Day 17. Other side of river
Today we went accross to the other side of the river, where we could see a large Pagoda on top of a hill. There we vound monks chanting, people visiting and a wonderfull view of Mt. Popa as well as Bagan.
At breakfast today Billy said his heart is playing up and beating irregularly. Dave is still not well and has developed a bit of a cough and lung infection. Both will be taking the day relatively easily.
The boat west across the Irrawaddy took around 20 minutes and in the distance we could see the mountaintop pagoda which we were aiming to ride towards.
We made minor stops on little islands where local's unloaded and loaded, bamboo mats, foodstuffs and other supplies. The island communities are isolated completely by the water and the agricultural activities they engage in typically revolves on a single staple which won't sustain a whole family.
Once off the boat, both Bill and Dave decided to sit out the ride uphill and instead took an early boat back to Old Bagan. Mucks and I pushed on.
Towards the golden mountaintop pagoda
At first the roads were as craterous as elsewhere but once we turned onto a road which started to climb towards the pagoda and things smoothed out. Just as well because it was a vertical 25 minute climb.
The view however, was well worth it. We could see the thousands of pagodas dotted around Bagan, boats crossing the river in all directions and silhouetted against the haze far, far away Mt. Popa.
What I found interesting from this vantage point was the overview of the rivers width. You can clearly see the flood plain and all the little isolated island communities which exist purely because their dwellings are propped up on stilts during the wet season.
As I found out later in the day, the smoke which is visible on the photos is from the burning-off of weeds in preparation for this years crop.
I gave some money to two monks sitting at the feet of a standing Buddha - maybe I'll get some brownie points upstairs. We were both weary after the ride and had a quick tea before starting downhill.
Every tourist is fair game
We almost got scammed coming back on the boat - the way to the mountain we paid 1000K, on the way back they were asking 8000K per person. We held out and eventually got a boat which only wanted to extort 2000K.