Anthony and Erica on the road to Mandalay 2006 travel blog

Riding in the ruins

Temple ruins

Crowds of temples - a still from a video clip I couldn't...

More temples in harsh midday light

Warm afternoon light

Crowds gather for sunset

I felt progressively more unwell last night, and had a mad feverish night's sleep as my body kicked the shit out of the alien invaders. But still on with the plan, so we hired two bikes and headed off to explore on our own. It was just great, and we quickly wished we were staying at least one more day. So we cycled around gawking at temples, progressively more off road, which is where things started to go a bit wrong.

First Erica slipped and fell in this muddy pool. I didn't have the nerve to suggest a photo. She was rescued by three Burmese women who were less averse to joining her in the mud than I was. So we agreed to head home to change, and soon after I got a flat tyre. So I was pushing my bike through the blazing heat in the middle of nowhere, while Erica was squelching unpleasantly along ahead of me, desperately searching for shade. The short version is we reached civilisation eventually: several Burmese men got involved, two of them went off on a motorbike to market to get me a spare, etc, and off we go again. What lovely people they are!

Anyway, back home, regroup, and off again, I still wasn't quite up for lunch. More temples, and this fabulous old teak monastery, and then to climb a temple for sunset. On another one nearby we could see large numbers of package tourists, as opposed to the half a dozen Europeans of quality and discernment on our temple. Seriously though, the temples looked stunning in the late afternoon light and it was a fab way to end our time here. And later I got my appetite back. All was well in my world.

General: They are big on tattoos here, they look prison style (and unhygienic) but have religous and magical significance, and they seem to like mine and recognise me by them (otherwise they sometimes struggle to tell westerners apart). Yesterday, this wood carver proudly showed us this article about him in Skin Magazine. Also, no socks or shoes allowed in temples. Fine, but in the old overgrown ones it is difficult not to worry about snakes, of which they apparently have some real beauts.

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