Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cave & cooking class Inle lake & Mandalay

 One morning I rented a bike to visit a nearby cave. It was only a 30 mins ride through a small village and nice green landscape views. Getting out was the tricky part, biking so close to the cars and trucks. No bike paths here. Everything needs a good cleaning  after Myanmar especially my backpack. 
The cave was pretty big and beautiful with many Buddhas inside and two monks. I don't think I've explored a cave on my Own before. Pretty neat and a tad scarey; iPhone's flashlight worked pretty well as I didn't pack my headlamp for this trip. 

My last day at Inle lake I opted for a cooking class, which was more like a cooking demo. I booked it with a nearby local, small family business called "My Parwnts" who are known for their messages. I wanted a short class as it was my last day; I was her only student. on the way to a local market, I saw a long snake cross our road. She said "lucky, lucky". Whew. 

Her and her family had to do some prep work- setting up the outdoor kitchen, table inside the message area and prepping the food. She pretty much did the cooking while explaining to me, in basic English,  the ingredients and measurements. Very different than the Thai cooking class but this was still entertaining. The family is so sweet, I just love them. 

While waiting, her family put their local root cream, thanaka  on my face that they all wear for sum protection. It was so refreshing at first, after a few hours it dries up and it's slightly uncomfortable. 

A few days earlier, I was here for a message; my first international one. It was a traditional Burmese style. We lay on the floor on a thick matt with our clothes on.  It was a pressure point technique, very thorough all around;  my legs and shoulders badly needed it. They only charge $6 for an hr, I gave them 10. 

I parted ways with my Dutch and Austrian friends and took a 7 hrs bus to the second biggest city, Mandalay, as my fight leaves from there. We were sadto leave this special place and each other. 

At my hostel, I quickly made friends with two young American guys. It's the longest I spoken to an American since my time in Tokyo 5 weeks ago. With only one full day, we walked for hours. We saw the Royal palace; we didn't go in but saw the massive endless walls behind the moat. Visited  kuthodaw pagado - the world's largest book built in 1868; Each shrine contains a large marble slab inscribed with sacred texts. 

Walked an hour and a half to start walking 1,729 steps up Mandalay hill. Nice views, and met a very cool artist using ink then oil to seal it and make it waterproof but the oil smelled like gas. Either way buying some of his art was the highlight of the day.
I was super tired but went with a few others to the infamous U bein bridge. About 30 mins drive, and the world's longest (.7 miles) teak bridge and oldest built in 1850. The bridge felt old, at times it waved because of the number of tourists waking on it. It was nice to see monks visiting as well. The sunset was gorgeous. 

Myanmar will have a special place for me as it does for many others I met. It's hard to describe it. Yes there's tourists here but it's still not super westernized or developed yet. People are happy to see us and are very kind. It's a beautiful interaction in a beautiful place. It's a bit tough getting around wth the buses and dealing with limited wifi. I wish I had spent more than 2.5 weeks and hope to be back sooner than later. 

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