Here now and now here or nowhere

The title of this blog comes from a play on words that "now here" is also the same letters as "nowhere" just with a space added in the middle. I am always trying to get better at being in the here and now, and I've always been a bit of a joker so that is why I chose this name.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 11 - Bagan (Afternoon Tour)

The afternoon session brought us out on a different path. Instead of going on the main road, we would take smaller dirt roads in and around other temples. A little more bumpy but much nicer views and atmosphere.  We'd visit some of the bigger temples this time and as the day was in full effect now, we'd start to be badgered by people selling their wares.  Most commonly was people selling jewels. I've never seen such beautiful emeralds, sapphires and rubies as well as the more expensive star variations. I was reminded of Indiana Jones, it was fantastic. It was also fantastic how cheap they were. I'm sure some are fake, but most I believe were real. Burma is rich in many things, one of which is jewels. The mountains are constantly being tapped for them and legally you are supposed to by only from certified dealers (getting a certificate of authenticity with the purchase and seeing most of that money go to the government) and if you're caught buying from not authorized dealers the government can take the jewels away.  So it's best to not by from the vendors, even though the prices go from $300 to $50 in a few minutes of bargaining.  I really wanted to buy an emerald, as I love the color green, but I couldn't afford it as there are no ATM's in Burma so you have to come with all they money you plan to use. I don't know if I have enough so bye-bye emeralds. (I think I'll be ok, it's a want vs need thing.)  The people I was with bought a beautiful sapphire and the guy they bought from proceeded to follow us around trying to sell more. Logic doesn't always seem to come into play in Asia. We couldn't understand why he'd try to sell us more when we already bought from him instead of trying to sell to people who hadn't bought. Anyways, it's best to not be too logical in Asia.  

Many of the temples we saw in the afternoon had stucco paintings of buddha, various stories or tales, as well as animals (elephant being most common).  The last one we'd visit before going to our sunset view was the Ananda temple, which is one of the prettiest and most famous as well as one of the largest temples in Bagan.  There are four buddha's in the temple, one for each direction, and they are made out of teak wood, as teak is very sturdy, durable as well as abundant throughout the country.  

Next we were off to visit the most visited temple at this time of day, the one to catch the sunset at.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 11 - Bagan (Bean Sauce Tour)

After the mornings outing we were dropped off at our guesthouse to relax a bit, nap and avoid the heat.  I took a long nap and then headed off to the nearby soybean sauce factory.  A local food only made in Bagan is a black soybean paste that some compare to vegemite, but to me tasted more like a cross between chinese black bean sauce and miso.  It's famous in the country and many burmese people come to Bagan specifically to buy the paste.  I went to one of the local production places to watch and learn about what it was and how it was made.  While they were so friendly and excited to show me around, the unfortunate thing for me was that no one spoke english so I really don't know what was happening.  I think they basically just boiled soybeans for a long time, though something else had to be added into it as why else would it turn so dark?  The waste was used for animal feed (or so I read somewhere else) and so it was green friendly, in a way.  They gave me some packets to try. When I got back to the guesthouse the older lady there saw this and asked if I wanted to try it. So we prepared it by thoroughly mixing the paste with a little sesame oil, some chopped small onions, fried garlic and a little chili. You'd mix it and mix it till it became more liquid like. Then eat. You can cook meats or veggies in this but I just had it on rice. A very strong taste, but I liked it. In fact I liked it so much that in the evening I'd order a dish of pork cooked in it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 11 - Bagan (Sunrise)

Waking up extra early is never fun, that is unless you're going to do something very special. Today I woke up hella early to hop on a horse drawn cart and head down to the temples of Bagan to see the sunrise. We were a little later than planned, thanks to a drunken hotel clerk giving us the incorrect information re:time of the sun's rising, so we didn't make it to the very popular temple to see the sunrise but that's ok as this meant we had our very own temple to ourselves. Sure it was smaller, but it was ours! 

After spending around a couple of hours or so there, waiting for it to come up, watching it come up, hanging out with the views, we headed to see some more temples. Our guide was great and took us to ones that weren't so busy. Or maybe we were just up earlier than most so they were less populated.  He'd give us a little info and history but after a while it all runs together. This king built this one at this time, this other king built that one in this time but also rebuilt or changed the other ones…. etc… etc… The history is important and good to know but the brain can only handle so much information at one time, and just taking it all the beauty of the area fills up a lot of that information space.  

One of the temples we visited had a very important stone slab.  Sort of like the Rosetta stone, this stone had the 4 languages of the time with the the same writing in each respective language on each sides. It made translation much easier for archeologists in the region and is very culturally relevant.   

We saw hindu, buddhist and mixed type temples, respective of what the king of that time saw as the religion of the land.  But after a few hours as the sun was coming more and more out, we were taken back to the hotel to get some rest and relaxation and lunch before going back out in the mid day as the sun would start to set. Hence, avoiding the major heat and intense sunlight of the day.