The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
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I thought the train was finally moving after at least an hour of waiting, but it was just my consciousness, slipping and sliding in two worlds. My reality blurred from fatigue and lack of sleep as I lean on the side of an open train window in the cart, oblivious of the passing crowd and vendors at the station. I am going to Pyin U Lwin (pyuu-lin), a cool scenic hill town, east of Mandalay, straight from an almost 8 hour overnight bus journey from Bagan. But I was awake the full day before and the bus ride didn’t offer a chance to sleep. It was already 15 minutes past 6am when the train finally rolled on the tracks. That’s already 2 hours late from its original time of departure. But I was just relieved the 4-hour train journey had started.
My journey in Bagan was coming to a close. On our way back to the inn, Mime asked about the Philippines. He was curious what it’s like here. So I showed him some photos from my phone and told him briefly how long it took me to get into Myanmar and how some things are similar with Myanmar as well. Mime has been a pretty reliable horse cart driver and guide. At first I was pessimistic since I’ve heard from friends of lazy and opportunistic horse cart drivers they had. But getting to know him, I learned more about his life here as horse cart driver.
These were the last few temples I visited in Bagan before leaving in the evening for Mandalay. Even if I enjoyed the sunrise and visited a few sites in Myinkaba, I already felt templed-out come mid-morning that I just wanted to head back to the inn to pack my things and get ready for the evening bus ride. But Mime insists we do a few more stops on temples on our way. I guess he wants to get my money worth so I obliged and it did pay off. I get to meet another interesting character in one of the temples in Old Bagan.
By this time, I had been used to the constant nagging of vendors. Initially they would eye you like a prey, ask where you are from, then give some trivia about the place or temple you are visiting, even accompany you around and finally ask to look at their wares without obligation to buy. On my way out from Nan Paya, I encountered this young persistent girl who tried to sell her lacquerware. I did look at the items she’s selling but decided not to buy the pair of owls (man and woman) that interested me that I found so expensive at 8000 kyat. As I head to the steps she was pleading. Telling me it would be good luck if I’ll be her first customer. She followed me to the exit with a face almost in tears.
Day 4 of my journey in Myanmar has been great so far, especially with that magnificent sunrise over Old Bagan. We made our way to the village of Myinkaba, just along the road between Old Bagan and New Bagan. Breakfast was the first order of the day and it was also a great way to observe the locals on their more relaxed pace. I noticed the similarity with Myanmar’s neighboring Indo-China country like Laos and Vietnam who likes to have breakfast at the streets, particularly tea houses. I pulled out a chair and sat down with Mime and ate like how the Burmese eat.
The chill of the early morning wind was really pleasant in Bagan this time of the year. Yes, I got up early and got out of the hotel just in time when Mime and Chune just arrived at the front gate exactly 5am. We started our ride again to the direction of Old Bagan while I survey the surroundings, now familiar even under the sheaths of darkness ready to wake up any moment. I have no idea which temple Mime plans to take me for the sunrise except that it’s somewhere between Old Bagan and Myinkaba, the next village. He has proven to be very reliable and knowledgeable as a guide aside from being just a horse cart driver so I’ll trust his recommendation this time.