Thursday, May 23, 2013

Carefree Days in Bagan (II) - Old Bagan and 戴永明's birthday !

We started our day early, about 6am..? We were so excited that we're all gonna head to Old Bagan to catch the sunrise ! Even excited for Mamu, 戴永明 and I, cuz we're gonna ride our bikes there ! We rented it from a shop next door, just 1500 kyats for a day ! Irena and Ji Ee took a horse carriage there.

The bicycle ride was longer than we taught ! But was so much fun ! The fact that we lazybums woke up so early, riding bicycles in the morning breeze ( and in the dark too, although our bicycles have dynamo torch fixed at the front wheel) just to catch the sunrise ! What a remarkable experience... The ride is about 45 minutes.. We were a little worried as the place got brighter. We got lost once or twice too.

The very first time I google-d 'Myanmar', images of Shwedagon and Old Bagan came out. I was mesmerise by Bagan then. Looking forward since I arrived in Yangon, I'm finally in Bagan ! I often describe it as a 'desert', with bricks-made stupa scattered everywhere. Simply beautiful. It took me quite a while to believe I'm finally here ! It's in front of my eyes !

There was only one 'road', properly tarred. We didn't know which stupa to go to. Not all stupa has steps for us to climb up and catch the sunrise. Luckily there's 'horse carriage driver' saved us. He directed us to the specific stupa. Well there were more early birds there patiently waiting for sunrise. We got our bikes up the pavement and onto the 'desert'. First time cycling on sand I guess. It wasn't easy.. Haha. requires lot more energy. When we reach the bottom of the stupa, there were horse carriages and few cute authentic mini vans there. We parked our bikes and climbed up the steps. Kinda steep so we gotta be careful. And of course, our gentlemen/birthday boy helped us too :).
A stupa we passed by
The only tarred road
Love the colour !


Once we reach the top, my god ! Breath-taking!! There were quite a lot of tourist up there, as well as backpakers. Some already set-up their tri-pods ready for sunrise. The pros ! There were this American Couple sitting next to me. They were talking to another family. I wasn't eavesdropping but someone someone happy birthday , so I turned around to wish that 'someone' too. What a coincidence, I told them it's 戴永明's birthday too !
We were in time !!
They had hot air balloons, but 200USD !! for about 45 mins ! :(
戴永明 and I were so looking forward to the hot air ballon but we had our budget in mind :)
I believe I can fly...haha
Ahhh...! Cant believe my eyes !

We sat, we waited, we enjoyed the moment. Finally, we saw, the sun, slowing rising up from the horizon. I was really WOW-ed by the scenery. Made me feel how I'm too 'city' , I really understand the saying : The Best Things in Life are Free...

First time in my life, I observed the entire process of sunrise..I couldn't believe this priceless phenomena happen every single day but I just never value it as much..

After sunrise, we cycled around tho we were kinda hungry. This part was fun, 戴永明 was doing video recording while we cycled. Looking forward to see those video ! Mamu was ahead of us, we just followed her where ever she stopped to have a look at some stupas.. I enjoyed that morning so much !

Most of the stupas are quite similar. Made of bricks, white sitting Buddha statue inside. The stupas look really ancient.

There, our super star of the day ! :)))

The environment is really peaceful. No one wad there, just three of us, sandy grounds with stones, few big trees. Perfect !

After that we 'tried' to cycle back for breakfast.'Tried' as in we didn't really know the way back. Haha. I checked out the map and 'agak-agak' led the way back ! haha Didn't use the same road we came, you know, mummy always encourage us to try new stuff, no point going back the same way. On the way there are many horse carriages.. After maybe 15 mins ( nearer to the new bagan) we start to see restaurants and guesthouses. At one time we saw locals teaching some tourists play sepak takraw outside a restaurant. See how homey is Bagan !

Everywhere around Myanmar ( I really mean everywhere ), there'll be a small hut or sometimes just a stand or a table with follow-pot-like thingy on top. Inside is water, for anybody. We see this every 20mins. Sorry I couldn't describe it well, a picture will do the job :)
Sorry, photo taken in Mandalay, didn't take any of those in Bagan :(

After 45mins we reached the our Motel. It was already hot then but it didn't really bother us. Very dry as well, you could feel it on your hair, dry, rough and sandy. But aikss..those are least of my concern... Very much enjoying my every second in Bagan. But I was allergy on my lips tho. Was all red and itcy.

After breakfast ( as usually, omelet, some fruits, toast bread and tea ), everybody went back to rest... 戴永明, mamu, ji ee are all sleeping... Mummy must be surprised if she knew I was awake..haha
I was thinking and thinking ang thinking... I started to realise how superficial my life is.. Especially with my schoolmates and people from camp... All about looking nice, having all the high fashion stuffs, just to get into the flow, so that people won't think we're that poeple would like us, so that you'll get more likes in facebook..Is that really why we're living ? Striving to look good seem good, be popular with the criteria set by the society, so that people would like us for what we are try to become instead of who we really are ? Trying to be pretty and popular is like wanting to having the latest mobile phone.. There's never a end to this...It'll just cost you more and more, this desire in the society are like GOLD to companies like Apple and Samsung.. with the right marketing, they are the one who decide what YOU should have..!

Anway....As I was saying.. these thoughts keep coming in.... I did a lot a lot of thinking...
After that I decided to have some time alone with myself.. I went next door to a 'kopitiam' where we rented our bikes. I ordered a advargado juice (very common there) and started reading lonely planet with my earphones on...

After I'm done with lonely planet, (btw just read about old bagan ), I sat there for a while, took off my earphones, unconciously started thinking again..All about 'life' and stuff...weird huh... Meanwhile I listen to the voice of Bagan... Noises from the streets, vehicle, people talking..and so on..

When I went back to the dorm outside our room, 戴永明 was still sleeping and ji ee wanted to go out to the market so I accompanied her.. I wanted to buy bus tickets to Mandalay too..
We cycled less than 5mins to the market , a MAZE I would say... Ji ee and I split up and explored the market on our own, we said we were gonna meet at our bicycles at about 1:15..but...the place was so confusing that she couldn't find her way out, she was late for abut 15min..

Check out the structure !
Bamboo shoots

Belacan I think ?

See ! We don't need machine!

Leisure time for you guys ! Ladies busy selling vegetables ?

There's sea shells in the bowl.. They're gambling but I didn't get the game tho observing for quite a while

Vegetable Seller, the ladies....
What a coinsidence, I saw 戴永明 passing by with his bicycle, wanted to ask him back, before I could he's already back :)
Ji ee came out a few minutes after that.. Ji ee was hungry so we decided to have lunch...We cycled down the other direction (not the one to the market or old bagan).. Found a kopitiama and just had our lunch there... Ji ee's stomach was still not well, so she TRIED to take 'cheng-theng' noodle soup but you know, it's usually more saltish than Malaysian food..( which is great for people like me ! ) 戴永明 ate some fried rice I think and I had a little samosa..the very last one... I like it very much !!
It's time for us to buy bus tickets... Ji ee wanted to wander around more and 戴永明 and I went scouting aroung for cheaper tickets to Mandalay...Ended up at this agent, looks reliable... Not very expensive., around 7500 kyats/person.. Slightly cheaper for the locals...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Carefree days in Bagan ( I ) - Mount Popa and the NO PROBLEM DRIVER

I was filled with excitement on the way to Bagan because..I'm gonna meet 戴永明 soon !!!
When we arrived at Eden Motel, the receptionist, a friendly Indian guy, told us there were no reservation made. He ask for names, I was like....hermm...戴永明? Romeo ? 1 local and 3 Malaysians ? Give him a phone number ?

It was so early in the morning, we cant go anywhere either, so he took us to Eden Motel 2 right across the street. It was very cold, I saw a horse carriage by the roadside waiting for his early bird customers. Looking straight ahead was a quiet road, leading to the town or market I supposed. As we crossed the street, I felt the gentle breeze, making me wanna pee. When we walked in Eden Motel 2, the PIC was sleeping on the wooden couch. Our friendly Indian buddy looked through the reservation book and he gave up, finally brought us up to a triple room. Very large room, wooden floor, 1 double bed and 1 single bed, with air-con and fans, long bathroom inclusive of a bathtub, makes us feel like we were in 'lao chu' (my grandparents old house). The guy was so kind he let us rest there although check-in time is normally at noon but no breakfast that morning though. Before he left, luckily we remembered to ask the magic question of  'How much' ( not ba lao le cause he speaks English ), he told it was 40USD, it was too expensive, luckily we (Mamu the master ) manage to bargain our way to 35USD. He was pretty blur that time too, I guess he misses his sleep. Haha.

Ji ee and Mamu head straight to bed, they dint sleep well on the bus. I went down to the lobby hoping to contact 戴永明 but the guy was still enjoying his sleep I dint wanna disturb him so I went across to Eden Motel 1 to make a phone call to 戴永明 but there as a connection error. I started to worry a little.

I went back to the room tried to take a rest but I cant wait to meet 戴永明 !! Suddenly I heard sounds from the hallway, I lifted up the curtains from the window next to the door, and there he is.. 戴永明 !!! I recognised his hat from his back ! Haha. I opened the door and started yelling  戴永明!! ,  in a very high pitch.

He didn't know we were already here, and he tried to get a room for three of us. Poor sleeping receptionist had to carry a tilam for us. But I wasn't thinking of that, too excited , didn't even realised that there's a dormitory at the back and 4 backpackers were sleeping there. The receptionist then move the tilam to the walkway between our rooms and the dorm where 戴永明 rest temporarily after breakfast. Before we left for breakfast, 戴永明 and I got to talking, he was telling me about the train ride, the same bumpy experience we had from Yangon to Kyaktiyo. We exchanged some stories there I guess. Then we walked to a nearby 'kopitiam' for a very local breakfast. The skies were a little brighter then. We had Myanmar tea ( which tastes like teh tarik ) and 戴永明 had some roti canai thingy I guess, I couldn't remember but I do remember him offering me nice imported almonds nuts, I ate that as my breakfast.  We were talking and 戴永明 showed me his IC, all written in Burmese, which btw I found out he has a burmese name : Sai Nat.. Cool huh ! There's a section that I'm guessing its the date of birth, so I asked him, what number it was, cant believe I don't know his birthday ! It's 27th of February, two days from then !!! I was like wowwww !!! I must definitely celebrate with him !
But my concerns were that his family and friends don't get to celebrate with him, I feel really bad...
After that we went back to the hallway where the temporarily dorm were. He saw backpackers there immediately he preferred a dorm rather than a room as expected cause his adventurous character meanwhile friendly and happy to meet new friends, there's so much things to learn about him !!! hahaha
Before he took a rest we were discussing about education systems, again, exchanging stories..


After about 1 hours rest....I went to the dorm to meet 戴永明. He was talking to a new friend from US, Alexa Ross. She is a very experienced backpacker, has been on the road for a long time. She was the one who taught us a very powerful backpacking tip

  • Bring clothes that we intend to donate, after wearing give them to the children, lighter luggage the way back ( the smile on their faces when they receive it is priceless )
She also gave me a book that I read halfway, I'll probably share about the book after I finish reading it. After about 15mins came in 2 more backpakers staying in the dorm , one from Korea and the other from Poland ( i guess ), they convinced us that climbing up Mount Popa wasn't really that hard. I was initially a little discouraged when I read about Mount Popa online - 777 steps !

Finally, 戴永明, Mamu and I decided to CLIMB MOUNT POPA ! YEAH ! So proud of mamu although she was pretty tired. We talked to the receptionist and she manage to find their regular taxi driver for us to drive us to hill foot of Mount Popa. 10 000 kyats / person.  ( The taxi driver was a highlight of our trip, unforgettable life risking experience , stay tuned ! )

Let's Go !!
So we went on the taxi and head to Mount Popa. 戴永明 was very friendly, he talked to our beloved driver for quite a while. He was sitting next to the driver and Mamu and I was sitting at the back, look out the window, we have no idea what are they talking about ( waiting for 戴永明 to translate, haha ). He turned back and said something like this : " I think he's drunk".. HAHAHHA! I'm laughing now but you woudn't believe it was life-risking then ! We weren't sure so we just hoped that he's sober. Haha.
After about 15 minutes, the driver stopped somewhere that looks like middles of a desert where there's this shop that sells 'Tharn Yet'. Biji biji of sugarcane with bits of coconut slice. Sweet and nice ! But it was a little expensive. Anyway, I like it a lot ! Aunty Jacky asked us to buy too. Other than that they sell quite a lot of other stuff. Even knives !!

Stay Away from 戴永明 ! haha
Some 'weapons' they sold :)

Mummy buying Tharn Yet

Alcohol ! He let us smell it !


Although we just bought 2 packets of Tharn Yet, the owner invited us in to have our very first Naypitow ! (not quite sure of the spelling, will ask 戴永明 about it )  It's a traditional and very popular burmese snack. Taste good !! A little similar to our 'Mian kam' concept. There's quite a few types of nuts and tealeaves dipped in some yellowish paste that gives the salty taste.  

There ! Looks yummy huh !


We were ready to leave after eating ( and drinking myanmar tea too ! For free ! ), but our driver isn't. We are pretty sure he's drinking again. Alcohol to be specific. We went back to the car. Worries started to grow. 戴永明 tried talking to him A LOT. But what he replied is totally non-related. Haha. We find it really funny then. He did mentioned something about being a very experience driver and stuff like that. After a while we stopped somewhere where we can see the majestic Mount Popa from a distance. 5 mins the driver said. For us to take photos, for him to refresh too I supposed. haha.

That's Mount Popa !

Row of owls..I wasn't sure what this means..
Alright, now we're really going straight to Mount Popa. Still 戴永明 tried , in every way, trying to make our lovely driver stay awake ! haha. Almost about 1 hour...? We finally reached the hillfoot. There's a few beautiful ladies selling flowers and and stuff to feed the monkeys. Yes, monkeys ! Not mini monkeys but BIG FAT monkeys ! haha. Yea I was indeed afraid of them, cause there's a lot of them ! 戴永明 bought the monkey food and fed them. It's something rolled in white paper making it look like a slime and small ice cream cone. You don't even have to open it up, just give it to the monkeys and they'll do the rest of the job.

First few of the 777steps :)

The photo makes it look like asking : 'Will you marry me ?" haha
The women selling flowers and monkey food.

One of the MonkeySSS...And this is the medium size onces.....
777 Steps, We'll Conquer you ! One by One ! 
So proud of you Mummy !
Mother and Daughter :)

I like this pic !
Every step closer to the top
Yeah !