After reaching Bagan I was given the biggest complement by Eric. He has asked me to guide one of his Myanmar tours next year. Jeeeze for someone to have that much faith and confidence in me as a person and my riding ability to ask me to guide for him and represent his company, I am gobsmacked and HELL YEAH where do I sign… already excited about reaching Bagan this news made my day
Bagan is probably the most well know city in Myanmar because of the temples which have been said to come close to rivalling Angkor (but not quite) Scattered throughout the city are over 2000 temples and pagodas. Some just tiny and not big enough to walk into while others are huge with extremely large Buddha statues and corridors inside. We were schedule dot have a sunrise balloon trip over the city which was very disappointingly cancelled due to high wind. I can only image how awesome it would have been to see the city and all the temples from the air. Just climbing up onto a single high temple gave one a stunning panoramic view across the area WOW this is certainly a place a worth seeing.
Like most touristy areas like this in most countries each temple is surrounded by a number of hawkers. Mostly they are great fun and not nearly as aggressive as those found in Egypt but you do soon get tired of being harassed. Our funniest encounter was when David started looking at the sand paintings wanting one for his flat. He did not find what he wanted so we left. We were riding in the back of our support vehicle for the day from temple to temple, taking a break from the bikes and hot riding gear in the extreme Bagan heat (the hottest city in Myanmar) Happily bouncing along a dirt track a scooter pulls up behind the truck and the rider shouts that he has sand paintings for David. While still driving he rides alongside and handing the paintings to us. Sadly they were not quite what David wanted, who wanted a red one with Buddhist monks. Not deterred the hawker rider turns up 30 minutes later at one of the temples with a few paintings of monks, just what David wanted …now that is service well ok determination. Anyway this guy proceed to spend the day following us and trying to sell us paintings, he was a great young entrepreneur and certainly knew his sales pitch. Maurice ended up buying a painting too. Sadly the ones I wanted from him were WAY over priced and no matter how he tried he couldn’t get usd50 out of me for a painting. But is’ funny how things happen….
At the end of one day we were just about to leave when a young girl came up to me selling the Bagan famous lacquer wooden bowls. She wanted 3000 kyats about usd3, for 2 bowls and would not sell only 1. I knew that in my purse I had 4 x 500 kyat bills. So said no I did not have 3000 anyway she carried on harassing me and bargaining and eventually I said ok I have 2000 and will take them. By this time we were in the back of the van and I opened my purse to see 3 x 500 bill damn, I apologised profusely saying I did not have 2000 only 1500 so could not buy the bowls. She snatched the money saying ok ok give me give me. Ok I agreed and took the bowls actually feeling bad now and apologising again. She said no it’s ok give me your hat. I love my hat and no way was I parting with it for all the tea in China I have had this hat for years and it’s my lucky mechanics hat. (i.e. the one I use to keep my hair out of the way when I fix bikes) so nope I said you are not getting my hat. I was going to borrow the 500 from David and it’s a pity I didn’t, because I would have noticed the bill. But by then the cacophony of the hawkers had got enough for us all and we drove off, me feeling guilty for short changing the little hawker girl…..erm HANG On DAMN it hit me they were not 500kyat notes but 5000. OMG the little cheating…well what can I say I went nuts kicking myself for being so stupid, I hate it when I do such stupid things. (15000 kyat is about usd16, but a night accommodation on my trip) I could not blame the little kid for a second. If some stupid foreign woman can’t tell a 500 from a 5000 note that I totally her fault, good on ya kid you got one over on me and I learnt a valuable lesson. That was NOT the first time that happened to me with foreign currency and I am sure will not be the last. Ah well temples hawkers and stupid foreigners the name of the game in Bagan
As well as sand paintings and lacquered bowls Bagan is also, well actually the whole of
Myanmar, is also famous for its wooden carvings, just stunning examples of workmanship.
However my favourite carvings were the coconuts carved into Monkeys just so cute