to the countryside

Around 7:30 tourists start to gather in front of our hotel.
Among them is a German lady whom we met yesterday and who lives in US and has spent all her holidays with her mother in Germany but last year traveled for four weeks in Nepal and Tibet and decided that her mother ages but she doesn't get any younger and she must travel during her holidays. There's also a woman from Belgium in a wheelchair. She travels alone and can manage everything. She's also very cheerful besides that.
Tourists gather for a tuk-tuk to take them to the port. Locals have finally understood that a tourist just wants to ride on the river, cost it what it may. Boat ride to Hpa-an costs 6000 kyat and takes about three hours.
The boatman drives in a clever way, slowing down by the villages and speeding up elsewhere. Everybody is waving and a boat full of farangs seems very funny to them. Especially when it has car seats instead of wooden seats. First the surroundings are flat and the river wide. You could almost say the river is endless but the ends are somewhere close to horizon. During the second half of the journey narrow steep rocks start to appear here and there. On the top of those are stupas of course. These probably arose from the bottom of the sea like that, covered with stupas.
A brief stop for toilet is made and foreigners follow Külli bravely through bushes after some initial hesitation. On the other side is new water and new fishermen.
In the port of Hpa-an the transportation service offers are not very enthusiastic, not to say there are none. We walk through the heat to a direction where there should be Golden Sky hotel, with a view towards the river. It's there. A stern-looking hostess shows first a 25$ room on second floor and then a 'suite' on third floor which costs 30$. View and balcony towards the river, in hall a huge table and view. It doesn't take long to decide. Behind the house green fields spread out, strange rocks towering above them. A 'pagoda mountain' just across the river is advertised.
We take a bit time to think about today's sightseeing, agree a trip for the next day and go to look for food. The town has a village-like atmosphere, low houses, and noise. The concentration of muslims seems pretty high. Mosque is being renovated. Near the market people are busy unloading cabbages from a truck.
Restaurant is exactly where it's marked on the map and with friendly staff. With the exception  of four farangs sitting next table. After eating we make a brief tour through the market, take some grapes and some other things. Külli does the bargaining (I doubt that the one making a good deal is the seller), I use the opportunity to record the transaction.
The hottest time of the day is spent in the hall in front of our room, enjoying the view.Roosters  crow and other birds chirp. Heat hangs over village life.
Around three we take bicycles and drive in an unspecified direction. First attempt takes us to a monastery. Novices are stamping some straw on the ground and don't let themselves be bothered by our arrival. Next road takes us through a village, houses on stilts on both sides of the road and field behind them. Something is being hammered, something is being sweeped. It's been long since so many people were happy just because I was there. Külli tries to become friends with a white horse and his owner, showing him a photo of my sister on a horse. The owner of the horse laughs at that.
The trail goes to the river. A boat is just leaving across water. People go to wash and take water for their gardens. Water vessels are transported either with a yoke or on the head. We sit there for a while and just look around, then continue further. Further is someone's yard, two smiling kids and dead end. We take next road where the houses are smaller and shabbier but people just as cheerful. On a crossing are four women who try to direct us somewhere. We don't understand much of each other but that doesn't stop everybody laughing. On next crossing an old man comes from his hut and speaks a bit of English. He has studied in Rangoon. Asks where we come from and how long we intend to stay in Burma. Describes the school where he has studied and expects us to know it. We pretend to know. We get back to the hotel taking along a water melon on the way. People are still unloading cabbages.
In hotel the hostess gives us a plate, knife and two forks when she notices the water melon. Demands that we wash it before using. We enjoy sunset with water melon. Rocks disappear slowly in mist as if they were never there. Mosquitoes appear.
I find WiFi-password on the wall downstairs.
pagodas and monks
Zwekabin and other places

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