We left Mandalay by boat, eagerly awaiting to leave in a sense that a man in prison awaits his release date. The boat ride was a cool nine hours in which a French couple at the front of the boat must have filled two small galleries with photos of riverbanks.
We went to the pagodas of Bagan the next day, well some of them: there are well over 2000 of the bastards at a rough density of how many pimples you’ll see on an acne stricken teenager. Some of them have fallen down due to a recent earthquake but with Burmese ingenuity, and a dash of dodgy building methods resulting in a lack of UNESCO world heritage status, many are still upright. Once again, Phoebe and I, ever the trusting people, listened to some of the drivel around the outsides of these temples which inevitably ended up with a pitch for a piece of sandpaper or some rather baggy harem trousers. Most of the temples were locked – coincidentally a hotel has opened up charging $5 for the view – but when we found one (Oak Gaung something), the view was actually astounding. Naturally, this was accompanied by a cacophony of haggling between a teenage lady trouser seller and a gaggle of middle aged Korean women.
We got up at nope o’clock the following day to catch sunrise at Shewanwehanehane=9gh (or something close to that). Hot air balloons went up, fog was there, and I can confirm that the sun did rise. Phoebe then had her bracelet stolen from the hotel room. We alerted Mr Toad, the hotel manager whom I rank among the worst people in history, to the situation. Naturally, he took offence that his hotels reputation was at stake and so proceeded to take us to a local police station with no translator where we were shouted at, told we were being searched and overall treated like criminals. I have recorded the conversation – it takes some hearing to believe it. After the shock wore off, we bought some sweets and barricaded ourselves in the room – it seemed the adult thing to do.