I slept some more and in the morning had a good breakfast of fresh fruit salad with a tomato and onion omelette.
Venturing out to the front of the hotel, I was accosted by a horse driver, one of several who wait for custom there on a regular basis. These little carts are the most practical way to get around on the dirt roads and tiny rough tracks, and there are 240 of them in the district.
The driver and I struck a deal for a tour around New Bagan. Just as well I did as it would have proved a long walk along dirt roads in the heat. I climbed in the small wooden cart covered by a hood. Drawn by a small horse, I was clip-clopped up and down the wide dusty streets of the town. It offered little except a few basic stores, a couple of hotels, restaurants and guest houses.
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From the town we drove down to and along the riverside, which is nice in a laid-back sort of way. Urged to get out and view the town’s gold-painted pagoda, I baulked. They all begin to blur after a while. I was more interested in the horse. A small brown mare with a pink plastic rose on top of her head, she was called Madonna. ‘My family like Madonna’s music,’ her owner, Bo Bo, told me. The horse should be the one to be insulted. Fancy calling a dear little mare after an uncouth old tart like that.
Madonna, Bo Bo and I continued on at a slow jog trot. The little mare seemed tireless. When I got out of the cart I put out my hand for her to smell so that she would know I was harmless, and then I patted her neck. She had stood half the morning outside the hotel waiting for a five dollar fee.
We located the village’s travel agent so that I could enquire about a train or boat from here to Mandalay. They knew nothing about trains, but said that boats were not travelling north now except the government one that went once a week. There were no tourist jaunts. I decided that the bus was the best option, especially after I learned that the train left at five in the morning. The bus also would collect me from my hotel. This saved an expensive taxi back to the bus or train station in Nuang U.
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