Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sunrise no.2, Mt. Popa, pool-time, temple sunsets and NYE - Bagan Style!

So, another sunrise, we left at 5.30am, and was promised a return ride by our driver (more on that later), and we climbed in the dark up to the 3rd level of Shwesandaw temple (sunrise temple) as the 4th level was too crowded. We managed to get some good spots and we watched another iconic sunrise; though I must say, me and Netta agreed we preferred the sunrise from yesterday - there was somehow more colour/more mist and a better view! But it was still awesome. We then went to go get our taxi back but he was no-where in sight! Turns out he couldn't be bothered to wait so sent his friend in another car to come collect us, who luckily found us lol.

Then today the plan was to relax a bit before Cat and Meghan, a Canadian living in Japan who we had met on the boat sunset trip, arrived to spend some time by the pool with me at the hotel. We stayed around the pool until 2pm, by which time me and Cat had booked a tour to Mt Popa to watch sunset there. The taxi picked us up at 3pm and after a loooong pickup and a looooong bumpy drive there (it took almost 2hrs) we arrived, with enough time to peg it up the 700+ steps to the top before the sun set. Mt Popa is an extinct volcano with a temple perched on top. There were monkey's everywhere and the sunset was glorious - yet again! We then raced it down as the monkey's were all going crazy at dusk and we didn't want to get bitten by any. On the way back to the taxi we got a little lost and ended up by a growling dog who stopped us from going up - but luckily this growling dog made us so nervous we turned back and found the right way back and managed to catch the amazing colours behind Mt Popa.

That evening I just went for dinner at that cute little restaurant next door and had a good looooong sleep - because the last two sunrises had been after 5hrs sleep!

It was then New years eve, and after a morning ebiking (I was on the back of Meghan's - great driver), around Nyaung-U township seeing some temples and a market, we lazed by the pool before deciding how to start the nights celebrations! Meghan drove me over to Ostello Bello to save me one taxi fare and after a mad panic because no where could get me a taxi back at 1am, i managed to book one through the hostel for 15,000 kyat - NYE eh - rip you off everywhere! Me, Cat and another girl from hong kong who was with us at Mt Popa, all decided to do the sunset boat trip again, because - what better way to start New Years celebrations than with a sunset, drink and food and a great group eh? I also randomly re-met the american guy who i shared a taxi ride with to the bus station in Yangon! So we all did the boat cruise together and it was great - Cat and I were pissed by 7pm haha.

We all, with our newly formed group and Meghan, went out for a meal when we got back, and bought some bottles of rum and whiskey to drink, however we were told we weren't allowed - but there's nothing a cheeky pour under the table can't overcome eh? I had a lovely Thai curry and then we all ventured over to the hostel to pre drink before we were allowed up to the roof-top party to bring in the New Year. We had so much fun and had drunk more than we anticipated. However the great thing was, when I went to get my taxi back, there was another group heading back the same way, so instead of paying 15,000 i just paid 2000! woohoo! Happy new year!

My last two days in Bagan were spent making use of the pool, and blogging/booking flights, planning my next move. I also spent another afternoon biking around the temples and went for sunset at Buledhi temple where i met an American couple and a Chinese girl who made the long wait in the blaring sun and my dehydration more bearable (I had accidentally offered my only source of water up to the gods of the temple - it fell). P.S bare with me while I get the pictures uploaded - i will update the blog with them once done!

Then on the 2nd November I took a nightbus back down to Yangon, spent a day celebrating Independance Day around the small villages near my airport hostel with a lovely Danish girl, and then took an evening flight on the 4th to Bangkok, where i spent 24hours, getting my fix of Thai curries, 7/11 and a massage!

It was then onto Sri Lanka! My time in Myanmar had been amazing; it's untouched beauty, friendly people who look at a foreigner with wide eyes and smiling faces (the women were always the most happy to see a foreign face, I'm not sure why), it's slightly weird but wonderful food, and it's charming day-to-day life, plus it's utter chaos at times. It's still an up-and-coming country and it still has it's faults (while i was there, fresh fighting was beginning again making once-visitable places become off-limits again), with a still very pro-military government that even Aung San Suu Kyi still obviously fears and is opressed by. Most people look to her as a saviour, but as a foreign secretary, and under a government still very much tied to the old one, she cannot do as much as she would like. And this is tearing the country apart again. I am so glad i got to see the areas that will become more and more touristy - before they are touristy. However i would love to come back when the country is more stable and under a completely new government with no ties to its horrid past, to visit the places that are off-limits now. It has only been open since 4 years, and already in those 4 years it has made much progress, but it will take a long time for it to become stable, out of poverty and completely visitable. However, I hope in that time, it will not lose it's untouched beauty, i really hope they sensibly develop the country, but unfortunately, like it's counterparts Thailand, Laos etc, it will fall prey. So I urge those of you wishing to see it in all of it's present glory, to go now, because in 10-15 years, it won't be the same country. In some ways that is great, for the people will know they are out of hard times. But already, in places like Bagan, Inle you can begin to see the bad changes. For all of it's flaws though, politicially and ethically, the beauty of it's landscape and it's people who persevere and want for the better times outweigh them - it truly is an amazing country!

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