Sunday, 20 March 2011


Thursday 10 February: Staying at the Emperor Hotel I aim to avoid government fees by taking Mr Tun Tun's motorcycle tour of the town's sights and, with his son is driving, we set off early before the ticket offices open. Most of Bago's Buddhist buildings are new, large and well loved. Kyaikpun Pagoda is a huge square pillar with four back-to-back sitting Buddhas towering above you. At Shwethayaung Pagoda a massive reclining Buddha, with 10ft long fingers, rests on a pillow of jewels. Here we meet up with Mr Tun Tun for breakfast (he's checking I'm happy with his son's tour) then we stroll around a placid pond to a new reclining Buddha. The small birds perching on his neck are dwarfed by his very serene face and massive ears.
Whitewashed Mahazedi Paya has an unusual feature, a tunnel flanked with golden Buddhas runs around the outside wall. From here it's a long ride north-east to see monk's at lunch - we are late so just catch them leaving the dining hall - an old one stops for a brief chat and to wish me well. Nearby is Snake Monastery where a large well-fed anaconda, believed to be the reincarnation of a famous monk, is lavished by 1,000 kyat note donations. We break for lunch.
Late in the afternoon Mr Tun Tun's son picks me up at the hotel to see the town's crowning jewel - Shwemawdaw Pagoda. It's taller than the one in Yangon and only slightly less impressive - glittering gold about to be protected from the sun by a basket-weave of wooden scaffolding wrapped in a swathe of orange cloth.
Back at the hotel I pay Mr Tun Tun US$10 (exactly the price of the government fees I've avoided) which he gives to his son (I'm only his second tourist pillion rider and his eyes gleam). They will meet me tomorrow morning, buy me breakfast and hail me, at local prices, a pick-up truck to Kinpun, Kyaikhto and Golden Rock. Nice man.
Photos of Bago.

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