Friday, December 11, 2015

Myanmar - Bagan

The flight from Mandalay to Bagan took about 30 mins. 
It was 8.40 a.m. when we visited a wet market.
Mostly the ladies sit sidesaddle on the motorcycle, with both legs hanging together on the passenger seat. This one is skillful sharing the seat with a big grocery basket.

One thing I have to mention is everyone needs in their bare foot walking in the temples/pagodas in Myanmar.
Steve has his longyi ready when going in Shweigon Pagoda, but he couldn't figure out how to wear it without it falling down, a local guy helped him figure it out.

Here he was wore the longyi nicely.

An indentation in the stone, shaped like an eye, reflects the pagoda.

The van stopped for us just so we could see this long hallway leading to the temple.

One of the four Buddha statues in Htilominlo Temple.

We also stopped at a lacquer-ware workshop.  Here, a design is being carved.

Ananda Temple.

Ananda Temple has four standing Buddhas, one for each direction.

We climbed up to this temple, which already seemed crowded with people waiting for the sunset. Stanley said he would like to go to another, less crowded pagoda beside it.   

Some of us followed him but Steve and some others stayed at the other temple.
I saw Dhammayangyi Temple from the top. 

The sunset lights above the clouds was beautiful. 
We were up there very late.  The local boys came up a few times and tried to tell us, no light, must go down. However, Stanley still wanted to see more.
I saw the boys go down, and after a while they were all gone. I was nervous because I didn't have a torch with me, so advised we should leave. The stairs inside are short and narrow, really dark. Luckily two people had torches to find our way down. A little adventure.

We stayed two nights in Arthawka hotel in Bagan.
This is Thanakha, the paste made from wood ground with water.  Many Burmese like to put it on their face. It is traditional makeup, but also works as sunblock.
I also put some on.

The next early morning, we went out at 5 am, before the sunrise.

Sunrise in Bagan - Spectacular!

So nice watching the sunrise from hot air balloons.

Of course they paid for it.

We didn't pay, but we get to see the sunrise with the balloons in the view. It was nice too.

Pagodas as far as the eye can see. 
This pic was just the narrow field of view looking off the sunrise side of a pagoda. Many, many more pagodas outside the field of view of the camera and to the North, West, and South. Over 4,000 pagodas in Myanmar.

I asked Steve to put one hand in the shape of a heart.

How come he couldn't shape it well in both directions.

This temple has two "eyes", where light shows through. 

I have no idea what their names are.  Pagodas are everywhere!

Thatbyinnyu Temple, I looked it up on Google.

This is Shwesandaw Pagoda where we went to watch the sunrise.

We went to a village after breakfast.

We asked the kids in the village, what they want to be?
Here we got a boy who wants to be an engineer.  He got a picture with these two 'senior' engineers. 

Along the way from Bagan to Mt. Popa, we stopped at a roadside stand that produces peanut & sesame oils, and a few products made from toddy palm juice.
Here, peanut oil is being made the old fashioned way.

One of the products made from the palm juice is moonshine (for lack of a better term.) Sorry if some of the terms below are not correct, but I'm not a distiller. smile emoticon 
The toddy palm juice is cooked down to a thick syrup in woks. After that, it's mixed with rice that's been pounded down to create a mash, and the mash is allowed to ferment for 2 days. 
Looking at the pot containing the mash, the bubbles were coming up so fast that we thought it was boiling, but those are bubbles from the fermentation. 
The still is a clever setup using 3 pots, embedded in a fire pit. The mash is poured into the clay pot. A large pan of cool water is put over the pot to act as the condenser. The evaporated alcohol condenses on the bottom of the pan, then drips into a collector that runs out to nearby bottles.
The finished product is about 40% alcohol (80 proof), and tastes like a smooth vodka. Not bad stuff.

Our lunch on lacquer-ware plates.

We went to Popa Mountain Resort to have a view. 

Zoom in to take a picture of the monastery on Taung Kalat.

Sunset again at Sulamani temple.
I might get the names wrong for some of the temples.

Dinner with a traditional puppet show at Nanda restaurant.

The next morning, we went to the community area where they were setting up for a Buddhist Kathina festival.

However, we didn't have time to see the event, because we needed to go to the airport to fly back to Yangon.


Anonymous said...

I performed light research via wikipedia. Toddy or "Palm wine" for the lower proof drink. All bets are off for the higher proof drink (each country has its own name), but "moonshine" is close enough to the joke nickname "country gin" that Wikipedia uses. ;) I have home-brewed beer, but never distilled. I wonder if the rice is fermented or is an adjunct for flavoring. Wikipedia does state that palm juice ferments very fast--even left to its own devices in a natural state.


eHeart said...

The rice is mixed with the palm juice to ferment. I assume this is, in part, to produce more final product for a given amount of palm juice, which is harder to get in volume.


Anonymous said...

Rice also mellows out taste (why it is a staple of Budweiser beer) which may explain why the Toddy doesn't taste like Rum. I need to research this more... what you're saying about stretching out the supply of palm juice makes sense.


eHeart said...

They didn't tell the proportions of rice to juice, so the juice could just be acting as a fermenting agent & flavoring. The mash was dark, so I think there's a high percentage of juice - maybe 30-40%. This is a pic of toddy palm trees - labor & time intensive to collect a fairly small amount of juice. They collect the juice by climbing to the top (you can see the attached ladders) & cutting into the fruits. Several small (8-10 inch) pots are hung under the cuts to collect the juice, which have to be swapped out for empty pots twice a day. They said the juice collected in the morning is sweet, and the juice collected in the afternoon was a little bitter or sour, I can't recall which. After collection, the juice goes to the giant wok to be reduced to a thick syrup (first pic in original post), which I think they said takes around 2 hours, being stirred constantly.


Anonymous said...

This production technique wouldn't be too different from how linen is made (from stalks of flax).


eHeart said...

I've been fascinated by looms for years. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what a spinning wheel does though. The only description I've found really doesn't say much, other than it puts a twist in the thread - no explanation of why though.


Anonymous said...

As with rope making, thread is twisted to make it stronger. I lucked out and encountered a rope making exhibit at one of St Charles "Civil War Fairs". To make rope, you start with four strands of hemp bundles attached by hooks to the immobile end of a wench-and-pole. At the other end, the four strands are also attached by hooks, but this end of the pole is connected to the wench. You then turn the wench, with twists the four strands into one strand. When the newly created rope is twisted as tight as you can get it, you then clamp the ends in some way.


eHeart said...

Yeah, I think we had to make rope (or saw a demo of it) back in Scouts. That's what I'm not sure about. From what I recall, they don't put multiple strands of thread on the spinning wheel. Aside from strength, twisting might also make the end product a more uniform thickness, I guess.


Anonymous said...

Sin E, these are spectacular pictures! Thank you for showing me this country, and a glimpse into your trip.