After much political discussion, and a three hour journey, through beautiful countryside, we finally reach the caves of Pindaya. The caves are half way up a hillside and there are 8,090 Buddhas inside them.
The first one was put there over 200 years ago and it became popular to put a Buddha in there to celebrate your life. The difference with these Buddhas is that the face of each Buddha has been crafted to the likeness of the person donating it. So, each one is different. We also learn to tell the difference between Indian Buddhas, Chinese Buddhas, Thai Buddhas and Myanmar Buddhas.
The town of Pindaya is charming and we have lunch by the small lake in the centre of town. It is a beautifully decorated restaurant with a big deck right out over the water. We have a table on the deck, and are served the best meal we have had so far in Myanmar. It costs $12 for the two of us including two beers and a cappuccino. But it is accompanied by a performance that doesn’t quite fit the surroundings. A local man, of about forty, walks along the edge of the lake and stops directly below us. He proceeds to take off his shirt and wash it in the lake. Then he takes of his longyi and washes that. He is now standing directly in front of us in nothing but his “tighty whities”, or in this case “tighty brownies”, doing his laundry. He then proceeds to bathe himself covering his body in a soapy foam and then splashing about in the lake to wash it off. Finally he washes his hair. When all this is finished, he climbs out of the lake and proceeds to do a vigorous work out routine in nothing but his underwear. If he had been 20 years younger and twenty pounds lighter it might have been entertaining. As it was, it just impeded our digestion. It was like watching a train wreck. You really didn’t want to see it, but you couldn’t help but watch.
People washing themselves and their clothes in the lakes and rivers is a common sight in Myanmar, but this is the first time we have seen it elevated to performance art.
After this “dinner show” we drive to the nearest airport and catch a flight to Began where we will spend the next three nights.
We say goodbye to Rosa, who has been a riveting travel companion, completely open and honest in our discussions about her country, and we have come away wiser and sadder.