Myanmar – Bagan Day Two

Day two of our Bagan adventure was not as temple heavy butwas more physically intensive as we rode bicycles throughout the day instead ofrelying on the horsepower to propel us around.
We rode the bumpy roads about 5 miles to Nyuang U in themorning (the closest so called modern town) to experience the local market andit was definitely an experience. The market was full of locals and a distinctlack of tourists, the smells and colors evoked so many other markets in Asiabut the big difference was that we felt like we were in a time warp withvendors using scales with weights (no digital here) and a distinct lack of anyrunning water or electricity nearby. The vendors were all expert bargainers butthe smiles literally glowed from their faces when we walked into the market.This was place where the locals happiness infected us.

Roadside temples (had to stop for a photo break)

More Roadside temples

Thanaka Wood at the market
Handmade Cigars


After a hot, sweaty walk in the market we stopped by a localcafé for a drink of some hot, sweet spiced tea with the locals. It was an openair stall with hordes of men sitting around drinking tea and coffee. A nicerespite from the market and the hot tea was just what I wanted. Yes I said hottea was a good idea during a hot day in Bagan, I think I even like warm waternow too! Just call me Asian.

After the tea break we attempted to call Carrie’s parentsfor their birthdays (but no international connection in town) and then made ourway to the Thanaka gallery.

Tea Shop

Phone Operator

Thanaka is ayellow cosmetic paste that is used all over Myanmar. It is used mainly by womenand children and is supposed to be good for sun protection and overall skincare. The paste is made from Thanaka wood, which is harvested in Myanmar, issold in all the local markets. You literally can’t go anywhere without seeingwomen with yellow cheeks from putting on the Thanaka paste (usually appliedtwice a day).

The Thanaka Gallery is a museum that explains how Thanakawood is grown, what is done with the paste besides just cosmetics, and alsothere are some carvings and different varieties of Thanaka in the gallery.  
After the Thanaka Gallery we saw the most modern temple in Bagan, Shwezigon Pagoda.

Min Thu took us to a very local street side lunch that was delicious and then dropped us off to rest bythe hotel pool before a couple more temples and an amazing walk through Min Thu’s village in the evening.

Shwezigon Paya

Min Thu took us to his village, after our pleading with him, and it was quite fun to see how the locals live. They were busy cooking dinner, tending their livestock, and gathering around the center of town to swap stories. Everyone seemed happy to see us and the children loved to race us on their bikes, hold our hands, and shyly smile from around every corner. It was a great way to spend the late afternoon and I hope the locals know that we appreciated their hospitality and ability to join them in their everyday lives.

The last major event of the day was convincing Min Thu to takeus to a stall for buying Paan to chew.
Paan comes in a variety of combinations depending onthe area of Asia but our particular combination was a Betel leaf wrapped (likea very small burrito) around betel/areca nut, chewing tobacco, coconut withsome slaked lime on the betel leaf. This entire package of paan is stuck intoyour mouth and slowly chewed similar to chewing tobacco. It is supposed to giveyou a little buzz and definitely gets your saliva going. My mouth turned into aoverworked factory for salive that was trying to spill out of my mouth andinduced me to spit quite often. The one fun thing about this is that thebetel/areca nut makes your spit red and everytime I spit I could hear the redstains contaminating the roadside. (see video and photo of the making of Paan).

Following that delightful experience we headed back to enjoythe riverside dining before another very early wakeup call and flight to Hehoand Inle Lake.

Village Cooking (fried veggies that were delicous)
Fans making the climb to see us
Our fans
more fans

Irrawaddy River at Sunset
Min Thu’s handwritten summary of our trip in Bagan
Min Thu and Charles
Paan leaves and Paan shop
Not drunk by us…but a lot of Myanmar Beer nonetheless
Our hotel room
Finally the next morning we did make a birthday call for $5 USD a minute
Categories: asia, Bagan, Myanmar | Leave a comment

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