I couldn’t sleep. And training for the next race starts the day after the last… so at 5:40 AM I was on the roads of Bagan pounding the… dirt? rocks? packed sand? A bit of roadway? All of the above?
It was a s-l-o-w recovery run. By design and by necessity. I did take the opportunity to stop for a few photos (I had brought along my Canon camera which does far better in low light than my iPhone). So here’s a few shots from this AM:
At breakfast I ate WAY too much. I skipped the western options, preferring to go for a more non-traditional (at least for me) “brekkie” — I went with fried rice, fried tofu, and vegetable spring rolls. That’s a whole lot of fried… and I overdid it. I figured I’d be skipping lunch as the celebration dinner river cruise was slated to start at 3:30 PM. Might be a poor plan… but then I’m full of poor plans.
I did get to enjoy the hot air balloons lifting off into the partially overcast skies while I ate. As a few baskets disappeared into the clouds, it made for a beautiful sight. These photos won’t do them justice, but then again maybe photos in general can only approximate ANY moment, despite what we’d like to believe when we “capture” it.
Whether it’s cookie-related to my location or just what’s the current top story on CNN, a news story on Myanmar was front and center on the page– Rohingya crisis: ‘It’s not genocide,’ say Myanmar’s hardline monks. I struggled once again with the stories and the perspectives put forth that what’s happening to that minority group in North/Western Myanmar isn’t ethnic cleansing. If the position of the hardline monks is that their religion is undersiege, I’m not sure that view holds much water for me given that Buddhism is a SUPER-SUPER MAJORITY in this country. And I’m always leery of painting an ENTIRE ethnic group as terrorists. I continue to struggle and to feel some liberal guilt at my being here, lounging about in a posh hotel, running past archaeological wonders that indigenous people here view as a place to visit before they die. I’m privileged and fortunate and… well… complicit I feel in some not so good things. And that’s me TRYING to be appeasing to my local hosts even though I have to say everything I see indicates a “fake news” alternate reality to truth.
The article contains this prose:
Thaw Parka said Wirathu had worked “hand in hand” with Ma Ba Tha since its inception. However, he stressed the firebrand monk didn’t officially represent Ma Ba Tha — a fairly loose coalition of monasteries and supporters.“People want to attack U Wirathu, they cherry pick his extreme words,” he said.The monks view international media and their coverage of the Rohingya crisis with deep suspicion and carefully took notes during our hour-long interview.“When we look at them, the news sources, (we find) that they did not investigate themselves. They fell for what (the Rohingya) said. They believed them and made accusations.”“We don’t want to have these kind of grievances. You have to go to the affected areas and investigate yourselves.”Myanmar has largely blocked international media from traveling to the affected northern areas of Rakhine State and journalists that have been allowed to go have do so under government escort.
A lot of folks were heading out on rented e-bikes to tool around the monuments and ruins before our 3:30 PM pickup for the celebration dinner. I’m a bit ashamed to say I’m a bit burned out on such things. I feel the same way after a couple of Cathedrals in Europe or museums frankly anywhere. It gets to the point where I’m just overwhelmed and can no longer really distinguish the differences nor can I appreciate the differences (of which there are many). And it’s because I, well, let’s be honest, because I get to a feeling of personal diminishing returns I feel a bit ashamed. As I said above, there are locals (and foreigners!) who would thrill to be here and I ho-humming my way through the morning.
To be fair, I’m still a little banged up and recovering from the race but… ya know what? That’s just a pathetic excuse. Let’s call a lazy Kevin a lazy Kevin. I’m being lazy.
I did wander the streets of New Bagan. Forgive me, I’ve been typing and uploading posts at all hours of the day or night trying to catch the hotel network when the WiFi was relatively stable and fast so I don’t know if I’m repeating myself on this. But New Bagan has a sort of beach town vibe, that tourist trap boardwalkian feel of Virginia Beach or any shore, Michigan, or countless places along the coast that cater to vacationing tourists. Makeshift shanties offer e-bike rentals and tourism tickets. You can’t walk ten feet without somebody telling you they offer the best price. It’s funny to hear the same spiel coming from different people, just with a couple of unique efforts to make it one’s own.
And while perhaps I should have gone exploring further afield, instead I opted to sit in the pool and update the blog.
While guilt runs deep, it helps that I’m so shallow.