Huge gap in posting; I’m the worst, I know. Let’s backtrack..
The weather predicted a not-so-cloudy morning on my last day in Bagan, so I decided to enjoy the sunrise from one of the pagodas nearby. At 4:15a, I was fortunate enough to have the entire pagoda to myself. Pulled myself up onto a ledge and sat in silence just watching the sun start to creep up and illuminate the tops of the thousands of pagodas. The picture doesn’t do the experience justice in the least. It was absolutely magical.
This is what it looked like when I first climbed up to the top.
These two cuties decided to join me after they saw my scooter parked across the road.
One last look..
Headed back to the hostel and met up with Chhay and another fellow traveler, Alex.
Grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant. Burmese curries are notably different than Indian and Thai curries. The gravy is a bit milder and seems to be comprised largely of sautéed minced onions as opposed to coconut milk or broth. I opted for a pumpkin and chicken curry this time around.
We walked around the grounds for a little while before being approached by a young boy who motioned to us enthusiastically. He grabbed our hands and led us towards a shrine like room repeating, ‘Lucky Buddha! Come see Lucky Buddha!’ Ooooookay..
Behold! The Lucky Buddha..! We were led into this room where two elderly ladies promptly shoved plates of fruits and incense into our hands. They motioned for us to move the plates in a clockwise direction and began chanting what I believe was a prayer. After this, they filled up a cup of water for each of us and motioned for us to throw this on the Lucky Buddha. They held our hands for a short while praying, and then in perfect English stated, ‘NOW YOU GIVE DONATION.’
Yep..no puntos for the tourists. We got scammed. Whoops. Luckily 1000 kyats (which was the required minimum donation-and here I was thinking I had escaped from RMD’s ha-) only comes out to a dollar or so.
Headed over to another pagoda with our scam radars up and ready.
Pit stop! Nothing beats the heat like guzzling down ice cold coconut water and scooping out the sweet meat afterwards. Favorite snack.
Chhay with some roadside foolishness
Prawn/fish cakes/crackers? Tasted similar to shrimp chips, except extremely oily and surprisingly chewy. Can’t say I’d give these another go.
Next, we check out the Htilominlo Pagoda, built in honor of King Htilominlo, ruler of Bagan from 1211 to 1231. It is one of the taller temples in the region sitting at roughly 150 feet.
A closer look
The inside view
Shops selling trinkets outside the pagoda
View of the Htilominlo Pagoda from a smaller stupa
Now this is where things got a tad funky. About halfway into the ride, we noticed a large gathering of people near a sand bank in the middle of the river. Curious, Alex asked the boat driver what was happening over there. I think the boat driver mistook her question for direction to head over, so he quickly steered us to the bank, secured the boat, and led us onshore.
And that is how we became unintentional wedding crashers.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. Here we were, complete foreigners, on a sand bank in the middle of the Ayeyarwady River, watching random people get married. The hosts generously offered us seats and asked us to stay for the event. We politely declined as it felt a bit intrusive, but joined along in the cheering at the close of the ceremony.
Our last sunrise. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out my time in Myanmar. Leaving was bittersweet; Bagan was undoubtedly one of the most uniquely beautiful places I have ever been in my life. But…Onwards! Thailand here I come!