As we were pretty much surrounded by waterin Mandalay, we didn’t stay around for long, leaving there after only one full day. We took the 8 hour boat trip south to Bagan to see the stupas and temples there, which Lonely Planet compared to Angkor Watt. The journey was pertty uneventful, and you were often too far away from the bank to really see life on the riverbanks. The best thing about the trip was that you were forced to sit and do nothing for a whole day, except eat, write….or drink the bottle of Rum you bought the night before.
The one thing that stood out at me was the boat had 95% tourists on it and it felt like I had left the Myanmar we had grown to enjoy. When the boat temporarily docked at a couple of towns, several locals stood on the pier trying to sell you crafts or bananas, and asking for money. I found it quite hard from our elevated position on the boat, looking down on them, cameras poking around. At least when we travelled by bus, we were the only tourists on it, and you never felt you were throwing your money at things just to make life easy for yourself. One travelling partner put it in a pretty realistic manner a few days later though – we’re here for different reasons, some travelling, and some living, with different purposes, and different backgrounds. I guess sometimes you just have to make yourself as aware as you can of the surroundings, and get on with your travel plans. Despite this, you still have to laugh with the happieness of the locals like one of the kids diving underwater as soon as he saw your camera. then creeping up slowly. I know some people don’t want photographed, but this guy was just having a laugh with us.