The sun rose behind the mountains. a golden orange ball, fading to a hazy cream colour as it ascended behind the wetlands and bird colony. The egrets and cormorants had been shrieking since before dawn.
We took our breakfast to the terrace while others ate in the dining room. The staff cut up our dragon fruit which we had bought in a market, revealing white flesh dotted with tiny black seeds. It was, however disappointingly bland to taste.
Wyn’s cheery face greeted us at the appointed hour and today’s treat was an excursion to the mountains BY BOAT. Now I had climbed uphill by water at home through a series of locks on the canal – Tardy comes to mind – but this was something else! We passed through a series of dams with narrow openings creating mini waterfalls about a foot high, so We had to get some speed up to negotiate these little steps. Apparently the openings were closed off at night I guess to replenish the water.
We ascended about 1000 feet to an area with over 1000 stupas – just incredible! These were many hundreds of years old and some had weathered badly over time or by vandalism and looting. However they still had a charm beyond belief with their peaceful bells gently tinkling in the breeze. Many had the roots of trees wrapped around them with their branches reaching skyward. Each stupa is beautifully decorated with exquisite stone carvings. And each contains various styles of the sacred Buddha according to the different families. people from all over Mayanmar come here on Pilgrimages and they are given lunch and rest. Inside the monastery they were chanting and reciting before the great Buddha.
We walked back down passed many craft stalls to the river and along a bit to a further monastery before returning to our boat. We speeded our way back down through the series of dams passing Kapok trees in flower along the way and women and children washing their clothes in the river, and even some young novices cooling off on a secluded bank. Eventually we pulled in at a small village where we were to have lunch at The Viewpoint – a slightly more expensive but very nice restaurant, Wyn told us. We all enjoyed a delicious meal together on a balcony overlooking the village and river.
This was a farewell to Wyn meal as afterwards we had to go straight to the airport to catch our flight to Bagan. However, Wyn just wanted to fit in one more thing – an oxen market! En route he pointed out a tribe in the back of a truck, distinguishable by their orange stripey headgear. Then we saw a large number of oxen being led by bear-footed young lads and Wyn told us that they had bought them in China and were leading them home.
We were on time for our flight to Bagan which only took about half an hour and were collected by our new guide Khi Soe and his driver and taken straight to Thazin Garden Hotel for siesta, although he did give us our bearings on the way – Old Bagan and New Bagan.