Thank You, Myanmar.

I’m not one for sappy posts, but indulge me a little please.

For those of you that don’t know, Myanmar (Burma) has just held it’s first internationally accepted election. While it wasn’t to the standards that we see here in Canada, this is a historic move for the country. What makes this election even more important is that the military-backed party lost to Aung San Suu Kyi’s popular NLD party. While she won’t be able to become president as Burmese law prevents people with children born to foreigners from becoming president (oddly specific) her party has promised to provide her with a position higher than the president. Right now – it’s looking like this is going to become a reality.

Here’s a little but of context to put this in perspective. Until 2011, the country was ruled by a military junta and for most of this time Suu Kyi was jailed. Then in 2011, after international pressure, the country held its first elections. These elections which were won by the military-backed USDP weren’t exactly free and fair and in fact, most Burmese didn’t vote. While visiting the country in the summer, I learned that Suu Kyi is revered by many people in the country – many even refer to her as  “Mother Suu”.

Here comes the amazing part. These elections were so popular with many among the country that lines formed hours before polling began, and people continued to line up for days (check out the BBC’s coverage of the election for some incredible images).

The Burmese people are some of the kindest and warmest people I have ever met – and seeing these results makes me so hopeful for the future of their country. They WANT change and it looks like they’ll get it.

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The images of people lining up around the block really struck a chord with me. Why don’t we see this in Canada? Why do we celebrate a 60% voter turn out? It still means that one out of every three people in this country didn’t vote. Not exactly something that we should be celebrating. Myanmar is one of the poorest nations on earth and yet 80% of the population still showed up out to vote.  So my fellow Canadians, get off your lazy asses and vote. Plain and simple.

These results have also caused me to do a little bit of reflection and soul searching. Currently, I’m sitting on top of a washing machine doing 6 weeks worth of laundry AT UNIVERSITY. Man, does that sentence sound privileged. Looking back on my time in the country, most people don’t have the chance to go to university let alone own enough clothes to not have to do laundry (by machine) for 6 weeks. It also puts my disdain towards my grades into perspective. Yes, they’re not the greatest. But, hey, I’m at university. Something that I know many burmese would love to have the chance to do. It’s also inspired me to work even harder, I have the chance to attend one of the best universities in the country – I may as well make the most of it.


Yet in the face of government oppression (the Rohingya people aren’t recognized as citizens and homosexuality is illegal, among other Human Rights Abuses), the Burmese are some of the happiest and kindest people I have ever met. They greet everyone they meet with a “mingalaba” (hello) and a giant smile. In fact, they pretty much have a smile on their faces all the time. We can honestly learn so much from these people and they’ve inspired me to make some changes to my daily life. From now on, I’m going to smile more (maybe this will cure my Resting Bitch Face), be kind to everyone I interact with and realize how truly blessed I am to live where I do.

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Jezuba, Myambar.

(I’ll go get off my soapbox now)

Travel Blues.

I don’t normally get the travel blues which is why this is so weird/unnerving to me. Yes, I know I missed a post yesterday but this will cover it. It wasn’t that exciting of a day anyway.

Yesterday was a mammoth travel day – we flew from Heho to Yangon then waited at the Yangon airport for our flight to Bangkok. We ended up having singaporean food for lunch, but neither of us were too concerned about that as we were both starving.

Our flight was about 45 minutes late leaving Yangon for Bangkok and we got in a little later than we were expected. We made it safe to the Hostel in Bangkok which was a pretty incredible place – I’m super upset that I was so wiped because it looked like a great place to meet people.

We woke up this morning with every intention of taking the sleeper train to Chiang Mai. But, when we went to book it at the train station it was booked solid for the next few days. Instead of waiting in Bangkok we decided it would be fine to do the loop in reverse.

The plan was for us to be in Siem Reap, Cambodia tonight but that isn’t exactly how it worked out. Our train was 1.5 hours late getting into the Attarnyaphet (the border town on the Thai side) so we decided to find a place to sleep for the night then cross the border tomorrow as we are both exhausted. We met a lovely french couple on the train who have the same plans as us, and we decided to stay at the same hotel so we could share a cab to Siem Reap tomorrow to save money.

Now, it might be because I’m tired. It could be because we’re not doing anything. But I really don’t know. The last 2 days I’ve been super “blue” – I don’t want to say I’m homesick because I’m not. I’m just upset and I have no idea why. I really don’t have any reason to be upset either. I’m on the trip of a lifetime and am eternally grateful to Katelyn for letting me crash her trip. I have no idea what this is but I hope I can shake it soon.

Again, I apologize for not blogging yesterday. I don’t even know why I’m apologizing to you. I should be apologizing to myself for not blogging everyday. But, I’m over it.

Who knew there was a Nepali Restaurant in Myanmar?

Oof. Today was exhausting.

We got up, ate breakfast at the hotel and then were off to the bike rental shop! We scored bikes for $1 for the entire day and were soon off towards the hot springs.
After some navigational issues we were off on our way. It was a tough slug and we were both pretty exhausted by the time we got to the hot springs. We were both expecting the hot springs to be natural but they were 5 small hot tub like things. Not worth the 10$ to us.
Katelyn had read online that we could rent kayaks so that was our next mission. We stopped in a small town but no one knew what we were talking about so we bailed on that idea. We biked a little more and stumbled upon a nice resort. We stopped there as we figured that we could rent something there, or they would at least know where to go. The wonderful lady behind the desk told us she could arrange for us to get a canoe. We were both stoked and two of the hotel staff showed us the way to the jetty.
Our ride showed up and it turns out that our canoe was actually a small fishermans boat which we didn’t have to drive. We were both thankful for that as we were both quite knackered after the biking. Our driver took us around some floating gardens for about an hour. It was quite peaceful and serene – until we got stuck beside a longneck boat full of Spanish tourists. Their boat was a little too big for the canal and we got wedged beside them. But, all was good after.
We made it back to the dock no worse for wear and were back on our way to Nyaung Shwe.  After about an hour of biking we made it back into town and went to a Nepali place for lunch. I had Dahl baht and it reminded me so much of the amazing time I had in Nepal.
We dropped our bikes off napped for a bit and packed our bags. We went off to a late dinner and I had another banana pancake – which I really need to learn how to make.
Back to bed.
NOTE: I WROTE THIS ON THE 11th SO IT COUNTS AS A BLOG EVERYDAY. HA.

No means yes, Yes means Yes, and “Thanks anyway” is confusing

I have to say, its better than being asked if we’re married. It seems that most people here don’t understand that platonic friends can travel together. I guess this one is a pretty large cultural difference.

We had an earlier start than normal today as we wanted to get out on the lake – which is really why we’re here. We ate breakfast and then headed down to the boat jetty to hire a boat for the day. I think the two of us are getting pretty skilled at this whole bartering thing as we knocked the $30 price tag down to $20 – which is an entire night somewhere. Not bad for a 6 hour day trip.

Our first stop was a market directly across the lake from Nyaung Shwe. It took us an hour and a half to get there. It was a little rainy on the way but the contrast between the lush green mountains and the grey clouds was beautiful. Especially when it was occasionally interrupted by a gold pagoda.

We got to the market and passed through it on our way to another pagoda. We didn’t go inside this one but the view back to the lake was beautiful. On our way back to the boat and stopped to get a few things. I got a bracelet for my sister, and Katelyn ended up buying a bracelet that she really didn’t want to (note: don’t try things on and then say no, also there were tears). We navigated the mud back to the boat and were soon on our way to the next stop.

After the market we headed to a silk weaving shop. We got to see how they make lotus fibres into string to weave with, and we also saw how they weave traditional silk scarves. The scarves were gorgeous, and of course the one that I wanted to buy (but didn’t) was $330. Who knew a plain black scarf could cost so much. Yes, lotus is expensive but that is a little crazy.

Our next stop was another shop where they made boats (like the one we were on) and cheroot cigars. We learned that the longneck boats take one month to make, cost $2500 to buy and will last for ~20 years. Add that to the fact that they are completely made out of teak and that makes it a bargain. If you need that kind of stuff. We also saw some fishing boats being made. I have no idea how they guys sit in them as they are incredibly shallow.  After the boats we watched some ladies making cigars from Cheroot (a local plant) and then we were off!

Our driver and guide both asked us if we wanted to go to another pagoda but we both said no. 15 minutes later we showed up at that pagoda. I guess no means yes here. Oh well, it was quite interesting. This is another pagoda where men add gold leaf to statues of Buddha – albeit not as big as the one in Mandalay. Over time the buddhas have turned into giant gold blobs on a table. Fun. Some lady walked over to me and handed me a bag of stuff that looked like food, I thought it was free and she came after me and wanted me to pay her.  I handed it back and said thanks anyway and she walked away confused. A few seconds later I heard some ladies giggling and chatting in burmese about “OK thanks”.

We piled back onto the boat and headed to a silver workshop. It was really neat to see how they hand make lots of jewelry using really old tools. Katelyn bought a few things because she got a “special price just for her”, but I didn’t (mom, if you’re reading this you are the most confusing person to buy for and I don’t know what to get you).

Soon, we were back on our boat heading to see some long necked women. This is one of the local cultures around here and while it was interesting to see it made the two of us feel a little uncomfortable as there were only a few women sitting in the middle of a gift shop.

We were on our way to our final stop shortly thereafter – the jumping cat monastery. There were lots of cats but none jumped. A+ advertising. We took a look around, saw some cute kittens and then made a pit stop. As I was waiting for Katelyn our boat driver walked over to me and we started chatting about life,etc. He asked me if Katelyn and I were married, I said now, and then he said “friends” and banged his hands together. Again I said no, and he was confused. But then told me I should wait until I’m at least 30 to get married.

We were soon back on our way to Nyaung Shwe, but we took a little detour through some floating gardens. They were beautiful and it was neat to see some traditional houses on stilts.

After a long boat ride we were back in town and starving. We ate at a local place and I had the best beef and potato curry ever. I don’t think I’m going to get used to being home where I can’t get a main+ tonnes of sides+ 2 drinks for $4. Step up your game Canada.

We headed back to the hotel and have proceeded to abuse the wifi for the last 2 hours. Sorry guys.

Does it Count as a Museum if there is nothing in it?

Wow, no witty title today. I must be tired.

We got up early this morning and flew from Mandalay to Heho. Little did we know that Heho was 1.5 hours from Inle Lake. It was a beautiful drive and it reminded me a lot of the drive between Bharatpur and Kathmandu in Nepal. Although, I was snapped out of my reverie quite a few times because the signal lights in our cab sounded like a bike bell that had been stuck on Children’s TV for 10 years. It was that bad.

We arrived in Nyaung Shwe (the city where most of the hotels in Inle are) and got all settled at the hotel. We relaxed for a bit and did laundry before heading out for lunch. We had an ok lunch (nothing special) and then headed off to the Shan State Cultural Museum. The museum had hardly anything in it, but the stuff they did have was pretty cool and taught us a lot about the history of the region. The museum takes up two floors in the State governor’s palace but there was NOTHING on the second floor. It was eerie to walk around the bottom floor of the museum and see nothing and no one.

After we were done there we explored town a little, visited ANOTHER pagoda and found the boat jetty for hiring a boat tomorrow. We went to a market in town, but then realized we had done pretty much everything in town and headed back to the hotel.

We were still full from lunch and rested for a bit, checked the laundry and then headed back out to dinner. We ate an excellent dinner (ft. an amazing banana pancake) at the Lotus Restaurant. By the time we finished, it was pitch black outside so we headed back to the hotel. I’ve been downloading lots of podcasts for our trip (if you haven’t checked out Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids, its wonderful) and Katelyn and I started listening to serial as something to pass the time.

Ok, I super need to shower. You can probably smell me from here.

A Real Gentleman Will Never Tell You What He Wears Under His Longyi

Today was a bit of a quieter day, which was a nice way to end our time here in Mandalay. I think its due to the fact that I was feeling a little nauseous AND we pretty much ran out of things to do here in Mandalay.

We got a little bit of a late start to the day as the weather forecast (and my stomach) put a bit of a damper on things. I rallied about noon and we grabbed a cab to take us to Maha Muni temple (yes, another Buddha statue) and the U Bein bridge (we were originally supposed to go later in the day, but alas the weather forecast didn’t like that).

We hired a driver to take us to those two places, but he was amazing and ended up showing us a few other places along the way. We headed to Maha Muni temple first as it was closest to the hotel. It is the second holiest site in the country after Shwedagon in Yangon. What I found to be fascinating at this particular temple is that the men (sorry ladies you aren’t allowed) will walk up to the statue and put gold leaf on it. It looks like this has been a tradition for some time as the statue of Buddha is now sort of an amorphous blob – with a VERY shiny face (it is the only part of the statue that is polished, which happens every morning at 4am by a team of special monks). It was interesting too as I didn’t wear pants to most of the temples in Bagan and no one said boo – but here I was forced to put a Longyi (think a longer, less cool kilt) on. We did the obligatory tour of the temple and then on our way out stopped to buy a few prayer flags. These will definitely be an amazing addition to the ones I have from Nepal!

On the way to the U Bein Bridge (our next stop), I asked our driver where to get a Longyi. I have no intention of wearing it at home – but the fabrics are amazing and would make a nice blanket at home. Grandma, if you’re reading this – please help me. Our driver ended up taking us to this place called Shwe Sin Tai where we could see the process it takes to make these textiles. I splurged a little and got 2 longyis and Katelyn got a skirt. It was really neat to see how they handmade these garments using an old fashioned loom, which definitely played a part in my overzealous spending (if you can call $30 overzealous).

From there, we headed to the U Bein bridge which is supposedly the longest and oldest teak bridge in the world. It spans about 1.2 km and Katelyn and I walked the entire thing. It wasn’t like anything we have at home as there were small gaps between the planks and the thing definitely wasn’t level! After walking across and back, we had enough walking and headed back to the car. On the way, we were handed free energy drinks as there was a street team giving them out. As soon as I started drinking, a few of the people working the tent pulled out their phones and started snapping pictures of me drinking the energy drink (which didnt work at all). I guess I can expect my modelling fee in the mail anytime now.

Before we headed back to the hotel we stopped in the Gold Pounders district to see how gold leaf was made. This was definitely the highlight of the day for me as I found it incredible to see these hand made. They start out with a larger piece of gold which is cut into six pieces then hammered for a 30 minutes to increase the size. They then readjust the leaves and then are pounded for 5 hours. The pieces are then packed onto straw paper and sold. The rhythmic pounding of the Gold Pounders was almost hypnotic and I zoned out for a few minutes listening to it! There were some amazing works of art that the staff there had made, but alas backpacks are not conducive to carrying things like that around!

We made it back to the hotel and napped for a bit before going to the Sky Cafe at our hotel for dinner. It was incredible to see how flat the city is and even though it was very overcast we could see for a long distance. We both ate the “Myanmar Housewife” set menu which consisted of Green Tomato Salad, Lentil Soup, A traditional Chicken Curry and Fresh Fruit for dessert! It was a great way to cap off our stay in Mandalay.

Alright back to attempting to pack my backpack. No gracias.

Making Friends is Fun and Exciting

So, Katelyn and I finally met some wonderful backpackers and spent an excellent evening with them! Yay for making friends.

We got a little bit of a late start to the day (and missed breakfast..oops!) but decided to head out for a few of the sights around Mandalay today. After we were ready for the day we grabbed a cab and headed for the Golden Palace Monastery. The cab ride was a little suspect as the driver had TV on his GPS and was constantly checking it.  It was so neat to see such intricate carvings made out of wood, and preserved for so many years.

After that we decided to take in the Kuthodaw Pagoda – which some say is the world’s largest book. The pagoda features 723 separate slabs each engraved with separate parts of the story. It begs the question though – is it really a book? Like really. But oh well, it was really neat to see.

After that we had our courage up and decided to head up the Mandalay Hill. It wasn’t a true “hike” per se, as it was stairs the entire way. Lots of pagodas dotted our way to the top – but you can only see so many Buddha images in a day before you get a little tired of it. We didn’t even make it to the top as we got to a point which we thought was the top , but it turns out it wasn’t. Classic Burma. We honestly weren’t too broken up about it as the view from where we ended wasn’t that great.

After we regained our breath (and consciousness) we headed off for lunch at the Green Elephant. I had Aubergine Curry with shrimp as a main and fried Banana with Honey after. Both were absolutely incredible.

After lunch we headed off to meet our compadres at their hostel to head to U Bein bridge for sunset. The taxi that their hostel had suppposedly called was super late and by the time it got there, we were all super hungry and decided to go for dinner and drinks instead. An excellent idea if I do say so myself.

We were planning on heading to Mustache Brothers, but after reading some not so rave reviews we decided to find another bar instead. We tried asking some of the locals for help but to no avail. It seems our conclusion that the city shuts down quite early was correct as we had a super hard time finding another bar to go to.

We ended up randomly stumbling upon another bar where we idly chatted for the next few hours which was great. Katelyn (I know.. so confusing) headed back to the hotel a little early and the rest of us stayed for a bit then went out for noodles after. Honestly, Shan noodles are the best drunk food ever. Sorry poutine. You had your place in my heart for a long time.

After we were done eating, the city was pretty much dead and we decided to head back to our respective hotels/hostels. We had a hard time finding a cab and walked for a bit before a kind doctor stopped and told us he would drive us back. Thank god for him as I don’t know how we would have gotten back.

I’m still a tad tipsy so showering should be fun. Lets pray I don’t fall in the mess that is our shower.

No Caviar in Myanmar

Titus Andromedon would be quite upset by that. But, there are lots of midsized cars, which makes up for it.

(If you don’t understand the joke check this out…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6yttOfIvOw)

We had another early morning today as we were flying from Bagan to Mandalay. We debated taking the bus as it was much cheaper, but we didn’t feel like it was worth it (the fact that it wasn’t the a direct bus was the major factor).

We got into Mandalay at 8:10 am (probably the shortest flight Ive ever been on) and were out of the airport by 8:30. Thank god that flight was so short because my knees were pretty much in my ears the entire time. Oh the joys of Southeast Asia. We decided to save some money and take a shared taxi as it was $20 cheaper than taking a private one. We waited an hour for it to fill up and during that time we planned our few days here.

It took us an hour before we got to the hotel – which has WiFi in the room (it’s the little things that make me happy). We checked in and met the wonderful general manager who told us lots about the city .

As soon as we got to the room we both pulled out our laptops and posted pictures to Facebook (because, duh). We rested for a bit then decided we would head to the Mandalay Royal Palace (a reconstruction of the palace of the last Burmese King ) and then downtown.

The palace itself wasn’t too entertaining. It felt very eerie at times as we were the only ones visiting! After getting inside, I hope that they put my $10 fee towards building some English signs. We saw lots of amazing teak buildings but have no idea what they were. As we were heading out we decided to climb the old guard tower. It was an ok climb until we got to the top – the steps were quite loose and scared me a few times!

On the way downtown we met some other backpackers who invited us to go on a tour of the surrounding area tomorrow – so lets hope that pans out! After answering a few of their questions and then saying our goodbyes we headed off to the post office. It was way more difficult to find than we were expecting. Mandalay is laid out on a grid – but our maps are not the best.

We bought some stamps and were quite hungry. We stopped at a café that had been recommended by Lonely Planet but it missed the mark big time. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. We headed off to the Zow Gyi market, which was a mind blowing experience. It was amazing to see so many locals there (they got a kick out of seeing 2 white people wandering aimlessly through it too) and the goods they were selling were not what we were expecting. We saw TONS of Western brands of makeup and cosmetic products. There were also loads of fabric stalls in pretty much every colour of the rainbow.

On the way back to the hotel, we noticed that there was ANOTHER pagoda quite close and we headed there to check it out. This one was by far the sketchiest as the entrance was between two shops and was a gravel path. We entered the grounds and took a few pictures. But, as soon as I got close to the Stupa a dog started barking at me. I walked back towards Katelyn only to notice that the dog had found some friends and started chasing after us. WE RAN OUT OF THERE (the most running I’ve done since home) and some locals stopped the dogs from getting after us. We immediately deked into a mini mart to grab some snacks and return our heart rates to normal.

After that much adventure we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and rest up for the night. Which is much needed after the day we had!

Alrighty, time to constantly check my phone for notifications.

Getting mistaken for a Belgian is Fun and Exciting

Today was another long and exhausting day. Even though we’ve been doing typical Bagan Days (as the bloggers call them) – where we go out to explore the temples from 10 am – 2pm, head back to the hotel to about 4-4:30 then hit the temples again until sunset.

This morning was no exception. We got our e-bikes again this morning after breakfast and hit the trails again. First stop was Shwezigon Pagoda, another one of the larger temples in the area. As soon as we got there we were met by locals who followed us around. Katelyn and I immediately ducked off to avoid them – and carried our shoes with us (we just didn’t trust this lady). After we finished up there, we decided to head for the outlying pagodas as we felt that there would be fewer people there.

I left Katelyn in charge of the map as she knew where we were headed. We found the trail we needed with no problems. About half way down the trail, it turned into sand and man did we have fun trying to navigate that. We ended up having to push the e-bikes the rest of the way. I really underestimated how heavy they were – my arms are still sore (but that may be due to the fact that I haven’t been to the gym in a while… like 2 whole weeks). We got halfway to the viewing tower (which was about halfway to the temples we wanted to go to) before giving up. We ended up running into a bunch of swiss tourists – as we both bonded about how bad the “Trail” was. We got talking as we were biking, and one of the guys thought I was Belgian – which is new and fun. It made me super happy though – my French was pretty rusty and I though I sounded like Mr. Bean trying to speak French.

We found our way back out to the main road and decided we would head to Old Bagan and then explore the temples around there. We found one that seemed to be drawing a small crowd and decided to explore it. This was a great idea as we found a hidden staircase and were rewarded with an incredible view.  It was great to see the layout of the plain, and were able to pick out a spot for sunset.

We set off again and explored some more temples around Old Bagan (and also found an ATM because being broke was not a fun time). We ended up finding a temple down by the Ayerawaddy River. We later found out that the temple dated to the 3rd Century. Even though it was nice to see the water the stench coming off of it later changed our minds. As we were heading out to the main road we passed the Nuclear Catastrophe Overcome Pagoda (No, I didn’t change the name for comic effect), which happened to be closed (potentially due to a Nuclear Disaster). After that we went to the Gan Daw Palin Temple, which wasn’t built as a shrine to Sarah Palin (Ironic, with that name. I know).

It was getting hot out so we decided to get some shade and head to the Bagan Archeological Museum. It was amazing to learn about the history of the area and see some artifacts that had been found in the area. It was astounding to me to see the paintings from the 12th century that had been found. I found it incredibly interesting that they were able to generate such accurate pictures of Buddha in that time period. The thing that I found the most interesting is that the depictions of Buddha were more human-like than the blobs supposedly called “Jesus” by Christian artists from the 14th century.

We were both starving and decided to head back to the Starbeam café as we were both in dire need of some protein. We had an excellent lunch and within 5 minutes of being back at the hotel for our afternoon break I was out like a light. Our asses really needed the break – I don’t think mine has ever been this sore. Ever.

After the break, we headed back out to catch one last sunset. On the way we thought we would stop and see the largest temple in Bagan – only to find out that we had already been there yesterday. A+ for us. We decided to scope out a location for sunset, even though we had already decided upon one.

On the way to the temple in our minds eye, we stumbled upon another one that we thought might have an excellent view of the sunset. We went in to scope out a staircase, only to be met by hundreds of bats. Not our cup of tea. We walked out quickly and decided to walk around to see if there was anything else that we were missing. We went in the back entrance and looked to see if there were any bats. We didn’t see any so we tiptoed in. Instantly one swooped down at us and we booked it out.

We ran to our bikes and left very quickly. Almost as quickly as Mike Duffy after his trial. We found the path to the temple we had originally planned to go to, and as soon as we got on the path I wiped out. As soon as I had cleaned myself off and we were good to go, a Burmese guy appeared out of nowhere and “cleaned” my shorts off. We accelerated out of there, and he yelled at us. I thought I dropped/broke something which it turns out I didn’t. He just wanted some money for doing nothing. Ok.

We found the temple (nameless) and climbed up. We thought we were in for breathtaking sunset, only to have some clouds block our view. Oh well. It is what it is.

Alrighty, back to attempting to clean up the explosion that is my backpack.

Lay on MacDuff, and damned be he who dare say “Hold! Enough!”

Wow. I actually remembered something from Shakespeare. A+ me. Ok, well that might be because my dad says “Lay On, MacDuff” quite frequently. But thats beside the point.

Today was an incredible day. It was also VERY hot, about 42C. We got a bit of a late start, but it was much needed. The sun and the heat are incredibly draining. We rented bikes from the hotel again, but this time no one wiped out. Yay us. Side note: you should see my leg from yesterday. We set off to see some temples outside of Old Bagan. The ones we chose happened to be a bit more touristy but offered some incredible views. We visited Ananda first. This one was very touristy and had lots of people hawking their wares there. I was really interested in buying some Elephant pants (a South East Asia staple souvenir) but the long ones were too short for me (no surprise) and Katelyn got hers for $5 cheaper in Cambodia. Katelyn and I both decided that we’re going to wait until Siem Reap to buy most of our souvenirs as everything there is cheaper, and our bags will be emptier (we hope).

We crossed the street from Ananda to go to another bigger temple. On the way, I decided to try and make it look like I didn’t speak English as I was sick of people trying to shake me down for cash. I tried French, but the cunning little kids here spoke French. Oh well. We toured this temple with no problems, and headed off to a bigger one. Here my efforts paid off, the little bit of Swedish that I spoke managed to scare off everyone. Tack. However, Katelyn found the one lady in Bagan that speaks Italian and proceeded to show us around the temple. She passed us off to her daughter (we think), who showed around the top of the temple. It was so beautiful to see the major temples from a distance as we were fully able to take in their scale. We ended up buying postcards from the girl who showed us around as she was a helpful (as helpful as a 14 year old can be) guide, and took a bunch of pictures for Katelyn and I. We also got 20 postcards for $3, but the money wasn’t the main factor why we got them.

We headed off to New Bagan on our bikes, and ate a leisurely lunch there. After our longer lunch, we decided it was getting to hot to explore anything and wanted to head back to the hotel to do laundry and nap. On the way back we found a small path that lead to some smaller temples. These were amazing as they were very far away from anything else and one had the best frescoes we’ve seen in any temple. We also decided to climb one of the smaller ones and take in the view. It was truly amazing.

We decided to stop at a few larger temples on our way back. At the first one the local “guide” (aka painting seller) told us that it had the best frescoes in Bagan – liar. The ones we had just come from were infinitely better. We left there and headed for a last temple (Nagayon Gupaya). On the way in we noticed that it was devoid of anyone – including locals. Which was surprising, as it seemed like this one was a major one. We tried to go inside but it had been closed. We walked around, took a few pictures and were off back to the hotel.

It was so hot that we both needed a break as much like my GoPro we were on the way to over heating.

We rested for a bit then hit the dusty roads again. We had noticed a spot on a smaller temple near where we were yesterday and wanted to watch then sunset there. We got there early to get the best spot. We were the only ones there for a long time and scared quite a few people off because we stole their spot. It was incredibly peaceful and zen like for a long time and we just chatted while we waited for the sun to go down. Later on a couple joined us, but they went to the other side of the temple so we had the sun set all to ourselves. A few locals tried to get us to buy their postcards but a few “No Grazie”s sent them packing.

We noticed a restaurant beside the hotel, where the ATM that almost ate Katelyn’s debit card was. We were a little wary of the bat situation at night so decided that we would head there for diner. It was the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy. I think it even beats some of the restaurants I ate at there.

After a rough day yesterday, today was a much better day. I don’t know whether it was the better sleep I had, the better weather or a combination of the two. It might also be the fact that I decided to take it easy on the pictures today. Over the trip this is something I’ve been conscious of. While I love taking pictures, its important to experience the place you’re in with your own eyes as opposed to the viewfinder of your camera. That being said, I’m still taking pictures, its just not as many as I would be.

Ok – I’m off my soapbox now. I promise.