Where the Gong Bongs

Category: Wendy's Wanderings 27 February 2013

Still no sign of chocolate here in Burma, the quest goes on!

Moving on from Yangon we flew to Bagan, which is a UNESCO heritage site due to its 26 square miles of over 2000 stuppas and temples, many over 1000 years old built when the area was a vast kingdom. Many have hidden staircases that open up to incredible views. We hired a car to take us to the site before dawn, walking through an old unlit temple with a head torch is a somewhat surreal experience where the Buddha at the alter is looking on. Even at 5.30am the key holder’s children Nadine and Honara are up and trying their best to sell me postcards. I must have given them too much money because I then receive slices of melon, and 18 more cards than the 2 I thought I had bought!

My main concern originally was to stop them getting under David’s feet whilst shooting but they were also fun to sit with and watch the day develop. As the sun started its ascent the dogs barked, the cockerel crowed, music blared out from a makeshift house (Journey's ‘Don’t stop believing’ as it happens) mist from the locals fires swirled its way in and out of stuppa’s and temples and formed a line between us and the distant mountains. A flock of birds flew overhead and somewhere a gong bongs, our interpreters e mail address is magical Bagan…now I know why. The senses settle as I absorb the moment, the mist adds to the atmosphere this is possibly the nearest I have been to meditation.

Beyond us 6 air balloons take flight and drift above our heads, thoughts of children’s story books come to mind as the picture becomes mystical. These children know nothing else; the beauty of the place is quite surreal.

Next day we travelled to Pyin Oo Lwin a colonial outpost as it is set in the mountains where it is cooler (3445ft). They still use ancient carriages with wooden wheels, which on unkempt roads gives the passenger the feeling not unlike being badly beaten! (green carriage shot). Still, made us laugh. A very different experience there on a Sunday when smartly dressed young men from the Military Academy shop alongside the longi wearing locals visiting the market.

There was also a grand English garden instigated by a Lady Cuff who was attached to London’s Kew Gardens in the early 1900s. With its unexpected lines of military precision through its rows of flowers ...there was a rock band thumping out a heavy base. Asia, an exercise in contrasts!

Back in the romantically named Mandalay before the Inle Lake leg, a gruesome city on the surface, hot, phrenetic with rubbish heaps on the streets. However having a local who knew where things where, allowed us some stunning surprises. We saw buddhas being made of marble once wrapped for despatch they looked like they were going to a wedding! (veiled Buddha.) We also saw silk being designed for a wedding gown (4cm which takes two woman a day to make) (bobbins image) and clay pots being made to carry water or oil.

Before we left we found a restaurant called ‘Red Canal’ a treat if you like curries in a fantastic setting. Chocolate, they do it, will it be good? No, it was totally gorgeous, each mouthful full of oodles of Chocólateness the yummy noises David and I made as we savoured the joy - we were almost asked to leave!! Chocolate never tasted so good. My addiction was satiated……for now.

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