I slept in till what I can consider late with no rush to get moving since I planned for a relatively easy and lazy about sort of day out until I would need to board the bus at six or so in the evening. While I killed a whole pot of black tea waiting my time, I consumed a breakfast of omelette and crepe (a clear adaption from the Western world). Eventually I came around to renting a bicycle from the junk pile selection on offer at the hotel. With my barely qualified brakes I pedaled out of the main part of town into the farmland where families tilled and worked the land as well as an absurdly large buddha seated upon a blue thrown. I even chipped in to help the locals move the earth from the mud to the sun baked platform that they were molding into a wider extension of the existing road. Without any instigation on my part, women in the fields with their yellow sun cream and large circular billed bamboo hats waved in my direction until I returned an enthusiastic wave in reply. After passing some boys (novice monks in their maroon robes and regular boys) playing football in the red dust separated from the fields, I returned to Nyaung Shwe where I continued my exploration on the other side of town into their farmland. Eventually I came across the former palace estate turned museum that the travel agent recommended but I wasn’t about to pay the fee. Rain began trickling down on me sending me back to the restaurant that presented me with the cigar gift for a late lunch. While I waited for my hot and sour chicken to arrive, I made myself comfortable with an unlimited supply of green tea and the last cigar I had left. I smoked the hell out of that last bit of sweet banana leaf wrapped delight enjoying it down to the very final puff. Along with the my main dish, they brought a delicious lentil soup as a gift to me. Honestly, who does this? Where did these beautiful people come from? I am going to miss Myanmar when it is all said and done. They have left a definitive imprint on me and their gracious generosity will never be forgotten. Upon finishing the bowl of soup (even before I got halfway through my ordered dish it was so good) they quickly picked up the empty vessel. Immediately I feared the worst. Please don’t tell me they are about to give me another bowl. Sure enough they did, forcing me to finish since I would have hated to offend them. Just like my relatives in Italy, they fed me to the point of incapacitation. They take you from satisfied to fat and sassy in fell swoop. As the rain continued to come down, I kicked back and sipped my tea while watching the world go by. What a fantastic and miraculous feeling that can be. Once the rain died down and the skies cleared up, I rode off in the direction of a monastery that has been built atop a long extinct volcano. On the way a boy let me ride his buffalo for a bit. I asked if it was for no money and he kept saying yes but sure enough he wanted money. The end result was that I didn’t give any money as I have done time and time again and will continue to do. Sorry but you clearly got the wrong person. At the volcano top monastery I had the view all to myself but it was not remotely postcard worthy as the fog consumed much of the valley and the lake below. Once back at the hotel, I showered up before getting picked up for the bus to Bagan. Once there, I met some Americans and in particular a girl from Akron, which is extremely close to my hometown, who is teaching English in Thailand (she even graduated from my old university of Ohio). The bus ride was uneventful, which could not have made me happier.
Breaking Burma Day 104: Much Ado About Nothing