In order to avoid another night in Mandalay we continue to Meiktila after our trekking trip.
The bus ride feels like sitting on a frying pan. There's a giant golden duck and a park with a white column in Meiktila. We set some fish free and hope the locals will not catch them again any time soon. No-one knows when the bus leaves for Bagan.
In the morning we chill two hours at a roadside tea house waiting for the bus. Then there's Bagan. The biggest stupa colony in the world probably. Since 9th century. In turns out that our passports are still in Meiktila. They have three days to catch up with us.
Twice we make a dash for sunrise. The first time it ends with two punctured bicycle tires. The second time is better. Loads of pagodas of course. When I found individual temples more interesting in Angkor then Bagan as a whole is more impressive. A huge area covered in ancient buildings. But then of course you know how the inhabitants were chased away from here and don't feel so good anymore.
Although there are many tourists here still all Burmans haven't seen them yet. I'm asked to pose for countless pictures. And leaving one photo session step on a tomato. Who did put a tomato on the ground? You are supposed to walk barefoot in a temple. The British created a lot of anger running around here with their boots on. Maybe there were more tomatoes lying around back then.
Two days of stupas is enough and the third day we rent a car and go for Saley. There's a lovely wooden monastery turned into a museum. The driver suggests that we also visit Popa mountain. Well, I've tried to avoid that one. And with a reason. But since we have a lot of time... Stairs filled with garbage, monkeys and monkey piss. Visitors feed monkeys with nuts wrapped in newspaper. Monkeys unwrap the package and add the paper to the rest of the garbage. People leaning on brooms demand money for cleaning. Not an overly atmospheric place.