Sunrise at U Bein Bridge, Amarapura
By now you would have noticed that I’m a sunrise junkie. You see for me sunrises offer hope and give strength. It pumps life and I feel truly alive when I notice the breaking of the dawn.
Myanmar’s democracy heroine, Aung San Suu Kyi, wrote in her Letters from Burma, “There is a special charm to journeys undertaken before daybreak in hot lands: the air is soft and cool and the coming of the dawn reveals a landscape fresh from the night dew,” and I agree to the charm that we have anticipated since the night dew.
Tea plays an important part of Myanmar culture. Every restaurant or food stall you visit offers tea. My fave is the local milk tea which cost 2,000-4,000kyats (0.20-0.40US$ or Php5-10). Because we arrive a little bit early at U Bein Bridge I invited Callie to drink tea as we wait for the first light.
Below the longest teak bridge we saw Taiwanese photographers lined up with all their cameras on tripods ready for the first rays of light. Locals and monks started to cross the wooden bridge to visit the temple to offer prayers and meditate.
Boats are available on the lakeshore for tourists who want to roam around. But we were satisfied with our viewpoint from below the U Bein Bridge. As the sun began to paint the sky lighter we saw some tilapia fishermen cast their net for the day’s catch. As the sun rose higher up more and more locals walked on the teak bridge to visit the temple on the other side. We walked on and met some interesting people.
Monks and Monasteries
First was a nameless monk, on his mid-20’s, this monk spoke good English and because of his wide knowledge on geography, current affairs, history and religion we spent almost an hour chatting about life. I asked him to choose just one teaching about Buddhism and he was heedful to say, “live in the present.” That simple note struck a chord in my heart and reminded me to enjoy each moment I’m alive. Most of the times, I look ahead too much that I forget to bask in the situation I am in in the moment. Some people might find it hard to live in the moment since they are still stuck in the past- relationships, hurts, familial problems or traumatic experiences. But there is there is healing when we accept the past, live in the present and be positive with the future.
While talking with this nameless monk we also met a guy who has a psychological problem that told us not worry about the future. I can’t believe it, this person even though psychologically-challenge was happy with his daily life going to the temple everyday, all smiles. He doesn’t care of the past or the future and I believe he satisfied more of his life compared to other “normal” people I know.
So much for the preaching. I got carried away form these locals we met along the way.
Our motorbike driver then brought us to some weaving shops because I wanted to buy a longyi- skirts used by the locals. I managed to buy one at 45,000kyats (4.50 US$ or Php180)
We also met with Callie’s monk friend U Ott Tama at the Moe Gokeyeik Tha Monastery Center. U Ott Tama toured us around the monastery and museum then we invited him for breakfast. Then we took a quick peek at the thousand monks eating breakfast. Busloads of tourists congregate around the dining hall and since we are not fond of any touristic activity that day we went to the public market.
Since Callie was collecting dance videos from around Myanmar, she thought it would be awesome to add the local market to the clip she is making. She started to invite vendors and marker goers to “kaleh” (dance) with her. At one moment the market stopped to dance and clap with her as she entertain the whole crowd. It was crazy and everyone was beaming with gladness after the dance number. She was even given some oranges by one of the vendors because of too much happiness.
From the market we hoped on a local bus for a local feel because its cheaper (200kyat/person) than hiring a motorbike (2,500kyats/person). This is our last day in Mandalay for we will take the night bus to Bagan later that night.
But before the night bus we treated ourselves with roti, samosas and beef curry.