Thursday, July 8, 2010

Burmese Tales - Crossing U-Bein Bridge to Ancient Amarapura

I was in a rush! I had to see the ancient city of Amarapura, north of Myanmar, at the fringes of Mandalay City. But the main attraction was on my way to the "city" - the U-Bein Bridge.

Stretching 1.2 kilometers, walking along its teak planks had been one of the most serene of experiences. With hardly a sound but the rush of the lake, and the waft of the winds, I trodded on, spellbound. To be honest, It was a considerable gale, I had to hold on to my cap. The leisurely walk to the other side took 15 minutes, but I couldn't help but stop every so often. In the middle of this bridge, I saw a single skeleton of a tree from a distance; a familiar sight among visitors. It was straight out of a painting. One day soon, I'd be able to share that photo here. For now, I had to rush and get to the other side. I had less than an hour for the crossing and back to where my tuktuk was waiting.

I could have stayed longer - but then I didn't want to miss the meal of hundreds of monks at a temple nearby. It is an attraction shared to tourists, occuring once a day - and a highlight of any Amarapura visit! During this ceremony, all the monks - young and old, big and small - would partake on a meal together - while us, curious and ignorant tourists, would watch them from the sides of their dining halls. All the monks must be laughing among themselves. "The idiots come to see us eat," they would say. While they do so, tourists like me take a hundred snaps. Some time during this practice, I was awash with embarrassment. But that pang of guilt was fleeting. This foreigner's folly somehow fuels the local economy. I came a long way to see them eat, what's so wrong with that? LOL

For now, I should be walking back to the other side of the lake. I felt lucky to be stepping on these teak slabs of wood. If you don't know it yet, U-Bein Bridge is the world's longest teak bridge - and without doubt, it was nothing less than magical.

A few meters near the edge, I saw my tuktuk. But wait! I saw dirty ice cream! The eating monks and my tuktuk would have to wait while I devour my scoop of ice cream.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Amarapura's U-Bein Bridge, Myanmar. This photo only courtesy of flickr's davebluedevil.

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