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Mandalay, Nyaung U and Bagan

TEXT GOES HERE (when I take time to write any)

I don't know what it is and I'm not sure I want to do it.
OK, first thing was that I had to get some local money. Problem is, the exchange rate is $1,000 kyat to a dollar. Here's $100 worth of kyat -- $100,000 kyat in 500-kyat notes. When you go out you need to carry, like, $25,000 kyat at a minimum, so you're always wandering around with these wads of cash.
I was only in Mandalay for the afternoon and I spent it wandering around the neighborhood looking for a CF card for my camera. I realized very quickly that my 184 photos-worth was not going to last. So this very colorful temple is about all I saw that afternoon. I found one 16MB CF card for $60 USD. No thanks.
We hopped on the night train to Nyaung U. We got the upper class car for $9 each. "Upper class" means the wooden bench has some padding and the car is lit by a bare bulb. The train wasn't full, so Sam and I each had a bench and got to lie down, although stretching out was out of the question. It was a cool train... the windows opened, and we had a nice ride. This was some small-town stop in the middle of the night.
Here's the view from our hotel in Nyaung U. It was a really nice place! We had a big room with beautiful windows and hot water. The town was peaceful, which was a nice change from China (and Mandalay).
Nearby Bagan is famous for its 11th- and 12th-century pagodas and temples, so we rented a horsecart and driver for the day and off we went pagoda-hopping. Here's the view from the roof of a pagoda, with farm workers and a scattering of pagodas across the countryside.
Pagoda (I can't think of much commentary for these pagodas unless one has some really distinguishing feature).
This one had some really nice wall painting in it.
Here's a nice little pagoda and our horsecart.
Pagoda.
Many of the pagodas (and temples, of course) had Buddhas inside, some of which I could even feel comfortable taking pictures of. Usually this was determined by whether there were a bunch of people kneeling on the floor praying.
This was a fairly big pagoda. No inside for this one, but there was a lot of climbing to be done. That's Sam up there on the stairs.
Bagan is pretty overwhelming. It's like some really big guy had his bag of pagodas bust open on the way home and they fell out all over.
Whew! After a hot afternoon of pagoda-hopping (not to mention the long night on the train) it was time to go back to the hotel and chill There'll be plenty more tomorrow.
Here are the rules for proper attire when visiting the pagodas. Floozies, trollops and strumpets not allowed. Angus Young either.
Here's one of the more fancy-schmancy pagodas in Bagan. The Burmese love gilding things.
Some pagodas and a monk. Monks are everywhere in Myanmar, by the way. The place is, like, 86% Theraveda Buddhist, and all men go to study at the monastery at two periods during their lives. I saw some nuns, too, but only rarely.
A really big dog.
The world's smallest color photo lab! There's an old Burmese guy in there who will develop your prints inside this crate. He can also take your picture and make you a little souvenir of your visit.
OK, this was the most monstrous place. It's so big I even remember the name, it's the Ananda Temple. There's lots of stuff inside, check it out below:
This is an interior wall. The place is filled with these windows and openings from one chamber into another. Some of these windows have Buddhas in them, but many are just these odd openings into another room.
There were four enormous Buddhas, one facing each direction. I got photos of all four, but in the interests of cutting down this gallery to only 120 photos I dispensed with the other three. Note the windows cut in the wall, those go to hallways like the one in the photo above.
Exterior detail. Woof. By the by, I learned yesterday that dogs in China say "Wang!" (rhymes with song). How cute is that? Actually, I don't know if this is even a dog. Some kind of dog/dragon thing or something. A Dogon?
Here's a little guy parked on the outside wall of some temple.
Here's Sam outside a temple. I have an image of this photo being on the back cover of a book someday, y'know, "About the Author." The skirt thing is called a longyi, and they're really a nice garment. I have four. :-)
Here's a copy of the Mahabodhi in India.
Here's a view over the famous Ayeyarwaddy (nee Irrawaddy) river, taken from a ugly new temple that wasn't worth photographing. Some of the more popular temples (including this one) charge a fee if you want to take pictures, and I since didn't really want any pictures of the actual temple I hid from the camera nazis when I took this one so they wouldn't run over and demand five cents from me. What a cheapskate.
OK, time for the next leg of the journey. This is the parking lot of the Nyaung-U Airport. I thought it an interesting juxtaposition to take a horsecart to catch a plane. We'll fly to Thandwe for our stay at Ngapali Beach... move to the next gallery!
On to the next gallery!