When I first arrived in Bagan I was still traveling with the lovely Joseline. She stayed in Bagan with me for the first couple of days then we parted ways as she left to head to Kalaw and Inle Lake. The first day we were in Bagan we rented E bikes (whimpy electronic scooters) and chased a sunset. The second day we rented E bikes again in the morning and signed up to join a tour group for the day put on by our hostel. There were 7 of us total, plus our local guide.
We headed out to see some temples, I believe we toured 5 of the most popular temples. Our guide was very knowledgeable and informative, but he was long winded. I did enjoy the info he was providing, but there was about 5 hours of talking and 1 hour of touring. It was of course a hot day (they all are here) and sometimes he would talk for a half hour in the beating sun outside a temple where you’re fully covered and barefoot because that’s respectful when visiting temples. During his long speeches, I was sweating profusely and being attacked by flies and other bugs. I know most of you know this about me, but I only have a five minute attention span. If you didn’t know that, now you do. I’m worse than a five year old sometimes. I’m a busy body, I don’t like to stand around or be still. Needless to say this tour was a challenge for me!! I know I sound horrible here, history is awesome, really I mean that, but I constantly found myself wandering off mentally and physically. I was so happy when we were done and back at the hostel. We had just enough time for a quick rest before our next adventure.
Later that night Joseline and I went on a sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy river also put on by the hostel. An ancient old antique bus picked us up outside and drove us down to the water. There were four young boys waiting with postcards to sell as we all got off the bus. This is common everywhere in Bagan. The postcards are all so generic and really cheap quality, honestly a really big rip off. On two occasions I met kids who had colored their own postcards. My little heart would thump for these little entrepreneur artists. One of the little boys waiting outside our bus had some hand colored treasures. I walked right towards him and told him how beautiful his drawings were. He was thrilled and asked me where I was from. I told him America and he smiled and said “Obama” (They all say that here, it’s so cute and also heartbreaking). We exchanged names and he walked with me the whole way down to the boat chatting my ear off in broken English. I told him I would think about purchasing some of his masterpieces upon my return from my cruise because I didn’t want them to get wet and ruined.
We boarded our boat with about twenty others and we were waiting to embark. I heard a little voice call my name from the shore. There was my charming little friend JJ. I waved at him and he yelled to me “Julie, I wait for you!” All I’ve ever wanted to hear is a boy say those words. HAHA. Just kidding! Seriously though, this was the most adorable thing. He kept yelling to me until we left him on the shore waving vigorously at me, with his sweet little smile. The sunset cruise was amazing because there was free alcohol and beer. Ok, the sunset was real amazing also, but free alcohol for the win. We also met a very sweet girl from Switzerland named Cornelia who I ended up hanging out with in the next days.
Sure enough when we got back to land, there stood my sweet little JJ screaming “Julie, I wait for you!” Of course, I bought all of his drawings and gave him some extra money to get something to eat. I’m sure the money will go to his parents but I don’t care. I loved this adorable little boy and I wanted him to feel special. I played with him on the shore for a few minutes until I realized my entire group was gone. I rushed back to the bus so it wouldn’t leave without me. JJ followed me the whole way. I gave him a quick little hug and waved to him as the bus drove away. He was my little buddy, forever in my heart.
The following day I was no good to nobody because I was still fighting the cold I received during the water festival the previous week. I decided to listen to my body and just stayed in bed. I was sad to be under the weather because it was my last day with Joseline. We had lunch and dinner together and the next morning said our goodbyes as she boarded her minivan to Kalaw. I loved Joseline, she was the best travel buddy. I miss her everyday but I’m so thankful I met her. She is a thoughtful and genuine person with a giant heart of gold. She is philosophical, grounded, funny and smart. She is a great listener, friend and has a deep rooted kindness for people and I learned so much from her. I look forward to meeting up with her again sometime, maybe in her native country of Mexico. If, you read this Joseline, I love you, you beautiful soul!
I spent the rest of the day getting lost on my E bike. Honestly, this is the best way to see Bagan. Get on your whimpy little scooter and drive. There are so many temples to discover and explore. I met up with Cornelia from the sunset cruise around midday and we got lost together, having the greatest time. At one point we were riding along on some back trails and a group of young kids ran after us. When we stopped for them they asked if they could ride with us. Without hesitation I said “hop on!” It was me and 3 little ones on my bike with me. One was curled between my legs on the floor board and two behind me holding onto me tightly. We rode along as they showed us different temples that they loved! Our little tour guides! When we parted ways they tried selling us postcards. Cornelia bought some because she couldn’t say no to these little gems of life. Me, I passed because they weren’t hand drawn.
My final day in Bagan I met up with a girl I had met in Yangon and a friend of hers and we rode around trying to find temples I hadn’t seen yet! The next morning I left for Yangon and then back to Thailand the next day! I had so much fun in Bagan surrounded by awesome people all the time and making friends with the local kids especially Moe Moe! I know, I know, more on Moe Moe next. Stay tuned!
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