Available in all sizes and colours
Today started with an opportunity to meditate on the sundeck. Only five guests attended but the reports were very good. After breakfast we are treated to a cooking demonstration with Chef Sumet. He has a full-house and teaches us how to make Tom Yum Goong, a spicy prawn soup. Samples are tasted and recipes demanded!
Late morning we visit the town of Pakkuko and its busy market. This is where you buy Thanakha wood, fruit, vegetables and pretty much everything else too. Our guides lead us though the market showing us the exotic fruit and veg, dried fish, spices and chillies. It really is fascinating insight into Myanmar life. Next stop is a cheroot making factory. Approximately ten people are sitting crossed legged on the floor making the small cigars. These folk are extremely skilful, producing perfect cheroots time after time without even looking closely at what they are doing.
After lunch back on board the ship we arrive in Bagan and head out to Myin Kaba village which is famous for its lacquer-ware. Most of the houses here produce lacquer-ware and everyone wants you to buy it from them. The Burmese are persistent but not unpleasant, and if you’re really not interested, they leave you alone. Sometimes you have to be firm and say you don’t want to buy. If you do show any interest then they’ll do all they can to make a sale!
Next stop is the Nan Paya pagoda, which has a unique architectural structure. The inner walls were built of baked bricks whereas the outer walls were built of sandstones. Another unique feature is the decorative artworks which adorn the four pillars of the interior chamber which are stone reliefs of ogres holding delicate flowers in their mouths. The stone blocks are laid so neatly and tightly that the joints are concealed from view.
Our final task today is to find a pagoda suitable to invade in readiness for the sunset. There are over 2000 pagodas on the Bagan Plains which cover an area of 16 square miles on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady. Many are in poor states of preservation but we manage to a good one, capable of accommodation the entire Furlongs family. We head up the steps to the highest point and wait for the sun to set. We are duly rewarded and numerous photos are taken.
At the base of the pagoda we are joined by various locals selling their wares. One of them is called Koko, a young man who turns out to be a serious entrepreneur. Before our visit is over, most of us have purchased something from him or one of his associates. If he hasn’t got your colour or size, he’ll nip home, have it made, get the right colour and deliver to us back at the ship. Over the next few days he whizzes around on his moped and turns up to most of our visits! Koko also has a good sense of humour and is extremely polite, so it is a pleasure doing business with him.
Photo: Bagan, wating for sunset © Dawn Furlong