Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dancing Elephants in Tan Kyi Taung Village

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tan Kyi Taung Village and Salé

In the early morning the people around our mooring in Bagan woke up and began their day.

Brushing teeth, washing, fishing, and working the river. 

Beside our mooring were other boats, and rattan houses and shops on stilts that had been moved back as the water from the Irrawaddy recedes. We are at the end of the raining season and many houses that were moved away from the high water are now being moved back.

Our mooring line watcher removed the big line and we cast off and drifted past the other boats.

I watched from the rail as the many stupas and pagodas drifted past, some sparkling in the sun.

We stopped at Tan-Kyi-Taung Village and walked through the center of town (about 700 people), past homes and livestock.

We arrived at a pavilion, built for the elephant dance. The dance was clever, amusing and delightful. 

Two boys wore the costume, a hot and heavy job. There were several sets who took turns dancing and climbing and spinning like a circus elephant. The one in the back had to be strong to lift the front guy. Here is a short video of the dance: https://www.dropbox.com/s/onn9udelkuubr54/00015.MTS?dl=0
 The musicians played with concentration.
 It was a joy to watch and the people of the village watched as well.

The village was small and we had left the vendors of Bagan behind for a completely un-commercial site. 

We returned to the boat for lunch and in the afternoon we had an on-board visit by a family who make rattan items.

The family was from the Myit Chei Village with a family name of U Seit. Their village is one hour from Tan-Kyi Taung Village.  
I bought several things and took a picture of the young woman who made the basket I bought. Today had been great so far.

In the afternoon we went to Salé, a prosperous village full of old colonial homes. As we arrived they were holding their pagoda festival, a school holiday when they parade and take gifts to buddha at their pagoda.

We saw their Pagoda parade, the children brought offerings and marched to the Pagoda or rode in buses with dancing on the roof and characters of bulls or creatures and dancing in the street. The town was big enough to have a police presence, and the police were rich enough to wear gold rings.

The British came to Salé because of oil and stayed there until 1942 when the Japanese came. The oil pipelines were destroyed during the war and only 1/3 of it has been replaced, but the people of Salé work the remaining oil fields and are relatively prosperous. 

Many live in the old colonial homes or have homes with non-dirt floors. Although Salé has more infrastructure that Tan Kyi Taung, it is still without most things we take for granted.
These plastic bags of water were hung on every house as required by the city. If they are not enough to put out a fire, then the house would be lost. 

There is a strong value on education in Salé. The children were out of school and being tutored by their teachers. 

We also stopped by a shop where they make cheroots, a Burmese cigar filled with tobacco and wood chips, said to be the first cigar, with fragrant smoke that repels mosquitos.

We walked past the monastery, stupas and pagodas. Talked to the children and young monks in training. Saw the people and the scenes of life in Burma.

As we approached the Irrawaddy we saw this man, with his cheroot, going for water.
Below the stern of our boat, as the day fades away is the colonial era landing, a massive British structure that gives me images of men in white suits and women constrained by Victorian fashions. This town is framed by the skeletons of its British past.

After dinner, although we were all tired, we saw the movie called The Lady the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently a member of parliament, but spent many years under house arrest after she won election as prime minister and was imprisoned by the military. She was freed in 2010, but can she lead the country, how much freedom is there, and does it make much difference outside of the cities? Her father General Aung San was assinated in 1947 as he was working for democracy and a united Burma. 

Mengalai Ba

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