The six hour cruise down the Irrawaddi River was pleasant and relaxing. The best part was watching the sun rise over the numerous pagodas which lined the river, glowing white and gold in the morning light.
When we moored on the edge of the river in Bagan, we were greeted by the sight of children swimming or playing on the banks, as well as women washing their laundry. Locals helped us balance as we walked across a plank to shore, as well as caryying our luggage. After paying a $US10 admission fee, passengers negotiated transport to their respective accommodation. I stayed in a cottage at the Bagan Thande Hotel (http://www.hotelbaganthande.com/) amongst tropical gardens on the banks of the river.
I spent a couple of hours by the pool, before wandering out of the resort, where I had the good fortune to meet Ko Linn (Horse Cart No 218, near Aye Yar Hotel). Ko Linn is one of the horse and cart drivers available for hire to take tourist around the masses of ancient pagodas. He has a pleasant cheerful disposition, and not only speaks excellent English, but has an extensive knowledge of the history of the area and the pagodas. We agreed to meet next morning, when we spent several hours driving around to various sites before I returned to the hotel for a mid-day break from the increasing heat. Then we continued in the afternoon to explore more of the remarkable ancient buildings which surround the area, which enabled me to take dozens more photos of the buildings, and the paintings and statues of buddha in the interior.
There were numerous pedlars, young and old, male and female, who wanted to sell souvenirs along the way. Some were persistant, but never rude or exceptionally irritating, especially when you consider how difficult it is for them to make a living. Some were so pleasant and offering interesting craft work at very inexpensive prices, that I did buy lacquer wear souvenirs from them. At the end of the day, I joined Ko Linn for a light meal at a local roadside cafe. It never ceases to surprise me how enjoyable these meals can be, how entertaining the proprietors are, and how little it costs.
The hotel staff once again were most helpful booking a flight for the next day, as well as 'phoning the Remember Inn at Nyaung Shwe so I could book a room. The staff there, offered to pick me up at the airport for a reasonable price for the long trip from the airport.
Next: Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake).
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