shwedagon

MYANMAR PART 6: BAGAN

MYANMAR PART 6: BAGAN

After spending three hours at dawn on the top terrace of Shwesandaw pagoda we were hungry and ready for breakfast.
The terrace had been packed for sunrise, but immediately after the sun came up a lot of people had disappeared and it was easier to move around and take in the views across the plain in different directions.  By the time we left some local kids had come to the top of the temple and were hustling the tourists, selling postcards and posing for photos 

We saw more kids hustling in Bagan than anywhere else in Burma, which isn't surprising really as it's one of Burma's most popular and long established tourist attractions.  On leaving the hotel after breakfast to explore the temples a young girl immediately approached us and after (very sweetly) asking us if we'd like to buy some postcards, proceeded to pull a brand new Penguin paperback of Orwell's Burmese Days from her dress and ask us if we'd like to buy it.  She said it was "very good" and I asked her if she'd read it, to which she smiled in a kind of you-know-I'm-not-being-strictly-honest kind of way and said "Yes, of course.  It's very good."
In all the time we were in Burma we never found these encounters tiresome or awkward.  The kids were always polite and not particularly persistent, and it never felt like a pressure, but at the same time it is sad that the kids don't go to school because they can make money selling to tourists.

MYANMAR PART 1: YANGON

MYANMAR PART 1: YANGON

We'd been planning the trip to Burma for almost a year, and during that time had looked at hundreds of photos of different parts of the country as we attempted to plan out an itinerary, but nothing could have prepared us for the reality of the country. By the time we left, we were both convinced that it was without a doubt the most beautiful country we'd ever seen, populated by the warmest, most graceful people we'd ever met.

Our first view of the country was from the plane as we flew in from Bangkok. Looking down, the country seemed incredibly rural, full of fields and woods, and every few kilometers, scattered with golden temples. The stupas, covered with gold leaf, are dotted everywhere throughout the landscape, and they were to be a repeated motif throughout our journey across Burma. The place is deeply religious, and in one of the poorest countries in South East Asia, the people still dedicate so much of their time and meagre wealth to building and maintaining the temples.