Thursday, April 6, 2006

Ngyaungshwe 05-01-2006

It took us about an hour including frequent stops and my ankles were burning from being held at such an unnatural angle for so long, ankles only bend so far after all! At least whenever we stopped it was along with hoards of other worn out Burmese, we were not the only people out of breath and red faced! All the while trucks full of people powered past us, foreigners are not allowed in a truck for this part
We finally made it to the top (along with the aforementioned 20 million people who were camped out on picnic mats all over the marble). People people people everywhere, all for a big gold boulder. Amazing.
We wandered around, Dylan went and stuck some gold leaf on the rock (‘Women were not allowed in trousers’ [I ignored this bit along with some locals so that was OK], ‘women are not allowed past this point’ ‘women must not go near the rock’ ‘women not allowed to do bloody anything humph’) and made a wish. We put our own western spin on the ‘merit gaining’ that goes along with the little packets of gold leaf, I sent my wishes with my husband seeing as I had to wait alone for him.
Again here - like everywhere - there was piles and piles of rubbish , I would have thought at least holy sites would have been cleaner but it is not so.
Feeling a bit underwhelmed by the rock and overwhelmed by all the people we went and ate a very expensive lunch in a tea shop down the mountain a bit. We tried to catch a lift back down in a truck only to be refused and had to walk (turns out it’s expensive anyway, even for locals, $3 even for them which is a lot). Down was a little quicker than up and the truck station much less frantic than back in the town. We climbed up onto little bamboo and wood platforms to make it easier to climb into the back. We unfortunately ended up in a truck where the wooden planks in the tray were only about 20cm from the bottom so long western legs were bent to their limits, much to the hilarity of the locals. Squeezed in shoulder to shoulder, hips to hips, knees in people’s backs (they don’t mind) we made our way back down the mountain much to fast for comfort but at least the press of people kept us in place on the planks. I hurt afterwards none the less. We took photos, another thing which we got laughed at for. People here laugh all the time over everything, its great.
Down the bottom back in town we staggered out of the tray to the ground, aching badly we went to our guesthouse for a much needed cold drink. Surprisingly the next day our legs weren’t too stiff, maybe because there was just as much up as down in the walking!
And that night we tried to burn the guest house down.There was no power most of the time in Kinpun so we got some little candles for light. We stuck one on the plastic vanity tray in the bathroom. Turns out those little candles don’t last for very long and Po-Seng vanity sets are very flammable! Whoops.
There was a WHOOMPH, Dylan bolted into the bathroom and turned the shower onto the vanity. The whole thing was out after about 10 seconds but not before the mirror had shattered (no, I’m not superstitious), the outside of the mirror was ruined and the little plastic shelf was a melted mess and the room was filled with acrid smoke and soot. The biggest casualties were our toothbrushes, Dylan’s filled with soot and mine melted and bent double. The whole fire was probably only about 10 cm across but what a mess!
Hands shaking, we told the management. These people are wonderful ,they really are. The manager just stuck his head in and went ‘never mind’ and grinned at us! When the power came back on they cleaned the room (we helped but they wouldn’t let us do much) and we offered to pay for all the damage, hearts sinking because we knew they could ask for however much they wanted… they asked for 4000Kyat… that’s $4 US. We asked if they were sure? I mean, we were prepared for so much more! But no, they insisted that was all they needed and were totally cool about the whole thing. I was amazed, impressed and very grateful!

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