I am sitting in my room at the Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel – no idea how to pronounce that – in Bagan, after a very refreshing swim in the pool. It is the first break since I arrived here a week ago! The pace has been very busy and very intense.
To pick up where I left off on my last post. After the cooking class I spent an afternoon at the Mahasi Monastery with a lovely old monk, “I speak 5 languages” but no teeth so although we tried English, French and Italian I had to get Win Win to “translate”. Basically I sat in lotus for three hours as he explained the philosophy of Vipassana meditation and then meditated for another half hour to practice what he had taught. I don’t know how much I gained from the process other than really sore knees but once again I was impressed with the serenity and joy that these Buddhist monks express. The monastery was beautiful and tranquil and full of students of all ages, nationalities and walks of life there to study meditation for a week or a year. No photography allowed though.
I met up with Gudrun (Germany) for dinner – a really lovely woman who has just chucked her job to travel for a year! Interesting, funny and gutsy woman!
Saturday, Win Win and I spent most of it riding the rails! There is a train which circles the city and acts as a commuter rail. People get on and off, eat, sleep, do their shopping, bring their produce to or from the markets – and then do it all over again. The route takes you out of the city proper and into the green farming countryside. Most stops are in old colonial style stations with ad hoc markets, street vendors and tiny food stalls. At each station these vendors jump aboard to hawk their wares – be it food, household goods, clothing or car parts and then get off at the next station to catch the return train. It appears that each vendor has their own section of the route. I finally started to feel like I was getting the rhythm of the place and made a few really good photos.
That evening I met Steve (McCurry), Yuri and Oleg (from Russia) and Caroline (from Holland). Yuri had a bottle of fine single malt whisky and a generous hand so the evening was a success – I didn’t mind the next day’s fat head TOO much. Steve is quite charming but intensely focused when he is “hunting” an photograph. Yuri and Oleg are incredible photographers too. I was completely blown away! I haven’t yet seen any of Caroline’s work but she, like me is fairly new to the game – I think we are a bit more reluctant to show off our “work”.
Since then it has been up early and out to shoot for 3 or 4 hours, lunch and a break to download and edit photos, another 2-4 hours shooting, another download and edit, dinner and a face plant in bed!
So Bagan where I was once again pleasantly surprised to find – connectivity!
Much, Much More Later!