Back on terra firma again much to my relief, I accosted a tuk tuk driver sitting by the roadside. They didn’t chase after tourists here. I suppose because we were a rare animal in these parts; I was stared at everywhere I went as an oddity, but not unkindly. I saw no other Western foreigners in Pyay, but I did meet some Thai women tourists in the hotel foyer.
The driver of this glorified motorbike that I had commandeered agreed to take me to see a site that was ten or so kilometres away. We took off, the engine struggling valiantly it was a lot to ask of a small motorbike engine. But first we went to collect ‘my brother’, who came too. Was I not to be trusted alone with this young man? The term ‘my brother’ can cover any degree of relationship up to and including friend. Whatever he was, the two of them looked after me well. They hauled me in and out of the back of the tuk tuk when the going got too hard for me. Mind you, they never touched the nun we picked up, only her baggage. My purity was so far in doubt it didn’t matter. They grabbed me one either side and heaved me about like a sack of potatoes.
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We rode out on the appalling road of yesterday, past the train station turnoff and into the countryside on dirt roads, crashing and banging. After three hours of this I gave up worrying about my bones and joints. Now my concern was for the damage I was doing to my internal organs.
As we turned off onto the dirt road we were hailed by the little old nun. She wore pink robes and had a large bundle on her head. We backed up and she climbed in over the high tailgate a whole lot more nimbly than I could.
Passing two oxen drawing a wooden cart, we went further down the road to drop our nun at her monastery, or is it convent, a few decrepit stone buildings without the benefit of doors or windows. I wondered at the privations there. It had an elaborate, garishly decorated entrance gate though. A bit further on was the entrance to the site I had come to see, the ruins of the once enormous ancient Pyu city, Thayekhittaya, which had ruled this area from the 5th to 9th century AD.
Here the government fleeced me of ten dollars hard cash. This fee included an obligatory visit to the museum, which was a total flop pitch dark and containing a lot of boring old bits of stone.
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