The bicycle Trishaw man
I stayed at the chinese owned hotel Great Wall in Mandalay. I walked towards the city centre it was 20th of July then I first met him the bicycle Trishshaw driver Myint Thein or the Trishaw man as he called himself. He had black hair was surprisingly tall to be a Burmese man in his middle age. Myint asked, do you need my service today, I go anywhere?
I said maybe tomorrow, I will go down to U-Bein bridge in Amarapura but it´s far away so I take a taxi. Myint said it´s twelve kilometers down to U-bein bridge but that´s not a problem I can drive down and back again without any problem. I said I would like to start early in the morning so I arrive at U-Bein bridge before sunrise? Myint answered I can pick you up at five a´clock in the morning? I said, it´s allright for me but you do not need to come if it´s raining! We agreed on the price for a full day Myint asked for 6000 Kyats about 5 US dollars.
Maha Muni padoga
I woke up to heavy monsoon rains early in the morning so I went back to the bed again. After breakfast it started to clear up and Myint arrived at the hotel. I come out to join him on the Trishaw with my backpack for my camera equipment and a tripod. Myint had a heavy load about 100 to 105 kg on the Trishaw. To local people’s amusement Myint started the journey to U-Bein bridge after all he had to work hard with the heavy Trishaw. After three kilometer we arrived at the famous Maha Muni padoga it was time for a break. We went into the padoga which is Mandalays most important padoga this is an object of intense devotions to pilgrims from all over the world. The Maha Muni Buddha image is fantastic and well wort seeing. Interestingly enough the padoga is also of great devotion to the military leaders running the country. There were pictures of military generals from their visits in the padoga. We left and went out to the bicycle parking area. There was a small parking fee to pay but Myint didn’t own one single Kyat so he couldn´t pay the fee, the man was broke! He asked if I could pay the fee and he would pay back later? I did so! We drove a couple of kilometers more before it was time for lunch in a restaurant on advice from Myint. It was a nice restaurant, the food was good, but it was also very cheap! I paid 5000 Kyats for food and bear for two persons, yesterday in Mandalay I paid 5000 Kyats for one person.
In the afternoon it was time for U-Bein bridge. This the world longest teak bridge it´s 1200 meter (0.7-mile) long spanning over the lake Taungthaman. We walked cross the lake to the other side of the bridge it was very interesting to follow life of people moving back and forth over the bridge there were monks, merchant men with their wares over the shoulders, women with children. I took a lot of pictures and it was running towards sunset. I used my camera with a tripod and a filter holder with a neutral density filter attached to the camera. We were standing about 600 meter out on the bridge then suddenly the filter holder and filter dropped off the camera into the water down bellow the bridge. Myint asked shall I jump into the water and collect it? I said no you wont find it it´s to deep and muddy! No problem it´s just above my hips. It´s to dark now we need to come back to the hotel before it´s in the middle of the night. Myint accepted and we went back to the hotel there we arrived at 20:30 in the evening. I paid Myint for the day 6000 Kayats and gave him a tip 3000 Kyats (9000 Kyats about 7 US dollars 50 cent) after all he had been of great help during the day. Myint asked what I was going to do tomorrow? I will go to by bus to Bagan. Well I can drive and buy your bus tickets, what time do you want to leave there are two buses leaving on at 09:00 in the morning and one in the afternoon at 14:00? The ticket would cost 6500 Kyats and my service is 400 Kyats? I gave him 7000 Kyats and said try the 09:00 bus in the morning.
Next morning Myint arrived at the hotel and said that the 09:00 was fully booked and asked if I would go in the afternoon instead? I said ok and Myint went away to book the bus ticket! At lunch time Myint was back at the hotel with the bus ticket but he had also the filter holder and neutral density filter in his hand. How did you managed what? Well said Myint, yesterday evening I took a note of the numbers of the pole there we were standing on U-Bein bridge each pole has a number engraved. I returned early in the morning a jumped into the water after searching for some time I found it in the mud. I returned to my home and cleaned it carefully with some water. After that I went away to buy the bus ticket! A new filter holder and neutral density filter would have cost me about 140 to 150 US dollars so I gave Myint about 30 US Dollars in a tip for his work at U-Bein bridge. I said let´s have a lunch before I am leaving Mandalay for Bagan. During the lunch Myint said do you know then I meet you yesterday I didn´t own one single Kyats and it´s only ten days to the end of July , I have to pay the renting fee for my bicycle Trishaw, the fee for my children at school and I had no idea how to solve the problem. Now I have money for both July and August. Every year July is a nasty time there is almost no tourists and the local people don’t need the Trishaw man!
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