Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sunset from Pyathada Paya

I nearly turned away and left when I saw the hordes of excited schoolchildren running through the halls and crowded the tiny staircase up Pyathada Paya for sunset over Bagan.

I'd hired a taxi driver to bring me out and back to Nyaung U, via the transportation coordinator at the town market. His friend had agreed to take me out, wait, and bring me back for 8,000 kyat. I could have gone cheaper by bicycle, but I didn't want to be biking after dark.

The guidebook had described Pyathada as having just been discovered by the tour groups. Which, even if all the tour groups in town were there, it still would have been okay. The pagoda has a huge level top and could handle a lot of people. But the busloads of Burmese schoolchildren all seeming to be on their first trip away from home was too much. They pushed, they screamed, they ran.

The taxi driver shrugged and motioned me up. After I pushed my way through, using my little keychain flashlight I'd bought in a Perth dollar store for camping in Western Australia, I got to a plateau where I couldn't move another inch due to the volume of kids. This was dangerous, I thought.

And then the taxi driver was there, coaxing me up farther.

Eventually, the kids left and the taxi driver pulled me up to the top.

And the view made the chaos worth it.

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