Life isn't easy when you have to hawk your wares to tourists who become more jaded with every seller's hit. I don't think about that as the boy follows me through the market place lugging his stack of water colours and asking again and again if I'll buy. I only think about how I wish he'd leave me alone. It's not like I don't want to buy but he's the tenth seller to ask me, in Yangon's lively and colourful market today. But he's the most persistent and sometimes persistence wins especially when you can put a human face to it. Don't get me wrong, I would have bought in a second, helped him out with a coin or two without thought but I can't feed an entire city and today it feels like the entire city followed me.
What an incredible experience. The market in Yangon is crowded, loud and vibrant. There are jewels; ruby, emerald, sapphire; lacquerware and oil and water colour paintings. After following me relentlessly the boy finally began to talk to me and that was what caused me to buy that water colour from him. He became my temporary buddy, friend in a foreign place.
Today we have spent hours in the market, made more travel arrangements, and traipsed through Shwedagon Paya, a stupa that towers over everything. It is plated gold and surrounding it are numerous smaller temples with statues of Buddha everywhere. Barefoot, no shoes allowed in a Buddhist temple, an hour of walking immersed in a belief that I only partially understand when an elder appeared from nowhere. And with a smile and a request for one American dollar - he took charge, explained the ritual of water and the Buddha, of prayers for luck and happiness and family. Then he showed us the exit and where to find another treasure - this one of nature not of man. Over 10 million bats live in the Shewedagon Paya golden tower and at exactly 5:50 p.m. they come out in a wreath of living gray that goes on for about thirty minutes. An amazing sight. But there have been so many amazing sights on this journey.
Until next time.
p.s. The internet is slowing down noticeably and the equipment is older. Not sure when the next post will be. Off to Inlet Lake tomorrow. Get out my woolies because the cab driver said the temperature is only 4 degrees. To think I gave away all my extra winter clothes before I left Beijing!