Travel in Myanmar is not efficient. Short taxi rides are more expensive than they should be, but if you try to get the driver to take you a much further distance, the price changes to a per person rate, which ends up being more than a bus ride, but you have to take a taxi to get to the bus station, which is an hour outside of town. To get to Bago, we ended up paying 10,000 Kyat for an hour-long taxi ride to the “bus station” where we purchased tickets for a two-hour bus ride for 8,000 Kyat (2,000 each). Where the bus drops you off seems to us to be completely random, although there always seems to be someone waiting to sell you a tuk-tuk ride to your hotel. This time was no exception. We were dropped off on the side of the road in Bago and immediately greeted by a man who called himself “Peace.” He accompanied us to our hotel and, on the way, got us all set up for a tour that afternoon, promising that if we went through him rather than through the hotel, the people who did the driving would see the money rather than the hotel owner.
As promised, an hour later Peace arrived and took us to lunch. He then sent us off in a tuk-tuk with one of his drivers for a tour of Bago. Although we had discussed the four locations we were interested in with Peace, the driver ended up taking us to quite a few more. We visited the snake temple first. The enormous python is said to be the reincarnation of a monk’s daughter. The “temple” turned out to be more of a room with a shallow pool to bathe the snake on one side and a ledge with pillows for the snake to rest on the other. It take at least five monks to move the snake from one side of the room to the other. So many people were crowded around trying to get a look at the snake that I didn’t get any pictures.
Next was a temple high on a hill with views of the surrounding area followed by an enormous reclining Buddha, said to be one of the largest in the world (or at least in Myanmar). This was followed by a giant stupa with two levels. The first I could climb, but only the men in the family could climb the 100 stairs to the second level. Then we walked over a pond, through a monastery, to another stupa which had a cave-like circle at the bottom that held Buddha statues the entire way around. There are a couple more stops that I neglected to record, but I think I speak for the whole family when I say that by the fourth or fifth gold temple in one day, they all start to look the same. There was also a stop at a cigarette packing station, where uneducated women are required to pack 1000 cigarettes per day to earn their pay. The sweet tobacco is wrapped in a leaf and the filter is made from corn husks.
The next day in Bago, we arranged to go to the Moeyungyi Wetland Bird Sanctuary. This is a large man-made wetland area that is a wintering location for 125 species of bird. Ray was quite excited to go “birding” and the rest of us were willing to tag along. We were hoping for a National Geographic sort of adventure the way Ray kept describing it. Unfortunately, the birds did not get the message to flock to the marsh for our amusement. We saw maybe five types of bird, a few fishermen, some pretty lotus flowers, and a herd of water buffalo up to their necks wading in the water. We tried to ask the boat driver a few questions, but he didn’t speak English. Although the ride was quite peaceful and beautiful, we were all a bit let down that the birds didn’t cooperate.
We ended up back at the hotel and bargained with the manager to get a room for a few hours until our 12-hour, overnight bus ride to Inle Lake left at 6:00 p.m. Since we had been up extra early for our birding adventure, we napped (BIG mistake) and freshened up (always a good idea) for our overnight adventure.
Giant reclining Buddha.
Feet of the giant reclining Buddha. I tried to look up what the symbols mean, but got so many different explanations that I am still not sure.
Ladies not allowed.
View of boys from the bottom.
Lotus patch in the wetlands.
Water buffalo crossing.