Waking up feeling unwell

distant view of Gawdawpalin temple

Yesterday I made a stupid mistake which almost made me postpone my intention to go cycling through Old Bagan today. I ordered a lassi and a pancake for lunch somewhere. However, it did cross my mind that it is best not to eat in an empty restaurant. It is probably the lassi which caused my sickening. I lay unwell in bed all night, and now this morning I do not feel much better. Wisely I decided to stay in the room until noon.

Tanaka – the make-up of Myanmar

Myanmar lady with tanaka

In the afternoon I rent a bike and start cycling through Old Bagan to visit the remaining large temples which I have not explored yet. My tour is definitely worth the effort and feasible to do by bicycle; the heat does not bother me too much. At the first temple, I get an explanation about the place from a saleswoman who afterward also applies tanaka to my face. It must be a silly sight, but it must be said, though it may not cause real cooling, you will sweat a lot less. Tanaka is used by just about all women to cool down, but it also seems to get you lighter skin color. It is the make-up of Myanmar.

An unsolicited guide while cycling through Old Bagan

temple view while cycling through Old BaganShwegugyi temple in Bagan

Pretty soon I get company from a young Burmese guide; he will follow me unannounced and on foot all afternoon while I am cycling through Old Bagan. At every temple stop, he shows me around. And unlike my guide from yesterday, he follows the schedule that I have set out meticulously. Occasionally he gives a word of explanation about the place I visit. A nice anecdote; he knows one Bob Marley song, No Woman No Cry. He quietly tells me that he also knows a variant, No Government No Cry.

Buddha shrines inside Ananda templeBuddha inside Ananda temple in Bagan

Avocado juice is not my first choice to drink

When we stop at the last temple on my list for today, I find out that the guy is only 15 years old. In return for his services, I buy his series of black-and-white postcards without haggling. Afterward, I invite him for a drink. He chooses avocado juice, a strange choice, something that would not immediately appeal to us, I think. I classify hanging out with this person in my pleasant experiences with the guides from Old Bagan.

guide proudly posing in front of Buddha statueentrance of Gawdawpalin temple in Bagan

Nerves of steel needed to start a business in Myanmar

mural with Buddha Upali Thein temple Bagan

My cycling through Old Bagan has made me hungry. But because of my experience yesterday, no more frills for me today. I eat noodle soup with a glass of fresh lime soda. The owner of the restaurant where I have dinner appears to be a French lady. She left everything behind, first in Paris, later in Bangkok, to start a business here. That seems anything but obvious; the government in Myanmar is not interested in small, foreign investors. And corruption is prevalent here. To obtain permits, visas and such, you need nerves of steel and be able to put the necessary money under the table.

A massage in Myanmar differs from the Thai version

When I return to the hotel, a massage lady is already waiting at my door. Yesterday evening I ordered a massage for today. She mainly works on my legs, certainly once she notices some obstruction over there. A massage in Myanmar is different from a Thai treatment, but all in all, I have the impression that she knows what she is doing. When she asks me to schedule a new session for tomorrow, I answer evasively. I want to find out about the effects of today`s treatment first.