Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Time Traveler

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 
As I type, three young monks bathe and play in the river. Their language is unknown, but the sound of children at play is universal. They are swimming down the rope that ties us to shore. Now the city wakes and I hear boats and horns and the cars and buses move about. A splash below me as a young monk dives in. Joy in the morning.

After breakfast we boarded a bus and headed to a metal works where we saw them making fine silver items.

 The bus took us to Ava where we caught a ferry across the river.
At the other side an old lady  was washing clothes as we disembarked. 

From there we took a horse cart to Mae Nu Oak Kyaung Monastery. We were surrounded by venders as we got in the carts and they rode bikes alongside us alogn the road. 
 Along the way we had a first glimpse of the countryside and an idea of the world we would be seeing. The primitive wood plows pulled by oxen were a scene that has played out for a thousand years.

The vendors were persistent, but we did have a chance to see the ruins of the Mae Nu Oak Kyaung Monastery. It was a ruing, but there was beauty in the light an colors.

After the monastery we walked through a nearby village and saw a bit of how the people live. 

Primitive kitchens, simple houses with dirt floors. 
We saw them weaving bamboo rattan for roof shingles and later for a fence. 
 There was a bar that had a television, and a betel nut shop where they showed us how a "chew" is prepared. People chew it throughout Asia for its narcotic effect. Their stained teeth are a sure sign of a user. There was also a travelers water stand, a sight we would become used to throughout the country.

We went back to the boat thinking about the country and people we had seen. It felt like we were in a place that was lost in time, it seem as though it would have been almost the same 100 or 1000 years ago. At lunch we talked about how it felt like walking in the past, which led to a discussion of where we would go for time travel. I have trouble deciding, but Kathy’s point about Paris in the 20’s seems good. I think America in the 40’s might be exciting. I don’t think I would want to be in a century or place where women are possessions.

After a rest we went to see the cotton and silk weavers and I bought a scarf.
Next was a quick trip to the Mahagandayon Monastery. The monk spoke English and told us about his life. Classes, meditation, and for the young ones a sneak into town for coffee after their last meal at noon, when they were hungry. Lightening cut our visit short and we took the bus to Taungthaman Lake and the U Bein Bridge.  

It began to rain and we waited in a tea house where I tried Burmese coffee. Condensed milk and an odd taste.. it will not be repeated.  The U Bein Bridge is the worlds longest teak footbridge. We went out in the boats and took pictures, but the clouds obscured the sunset which is said to be beautiful. As we came in it began to rain and the skies opened up as we got on the buses. 

It was dark when we boarded the boat. Our landing on the Irrawaddy had been improved during the time we were there in Mandalay. They whitewashed the wall and added metal handrails the last day. I think Viking will continue to improve it, but as long as the residents use it for a dump, it will still remain a little rustic. 10 years from now perhaps there will be a dock, although that may not be practical in a flood plain river.

After dinner a local group of two guitars, percussion and two singers played 60’s music. Shall we dance, YES. I danced more than I have in years. One of the waiters was quite the dancer and he took me up with him. For the rest of the trip the crew referred to me as the dancer.

My sleep was restless as I am still adjusting to the time and the heat. Tomorrow, a day traveling the river.

Mengala ba

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