World Map Burma

But Bo Bo said, ‘Three minutes’. A little rest for his Madonna first.

I had a wash and then dinner. Despite repeating my order of a small fried rice three times, I got a big plate of chip potatoes. When the small rice finally came it was enormous. I’d hate to see the large one. I had a great fruit salad and they made eighty cent fruit shakes that were all fruit, no ice, no sugar. When I paid I added an extra 1000 for the potato chips that I had refused, afraid the little waitress might be fined for making the mistake.

The wifi packed up the next day and the Al Jezira TV station had a signal that said ‘scrambled’, which made me wonder if something was happening out there in the real world that I was not allowed to know about.

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The next day at lunchtime I found Madonna standing under the trees outside the hotel still unemployed, so I hired her to take me to the Green Elephant Restaurant I had read about, situated on the river a little way from New Bagan. We trotted through the town, along dirt roads and down lanes shaded by trees to the river. This restaurant was very posh. At the entrance to it I climbed down and was met, handed a wash towel and escorted inside. The tables were on a deck overlooking the river from where a cooling breeze comes up. The food was expensive by local standards but still only totalled eight thousand kyat. The chicken curry was good and for once it was not huge.

Trotting back, Bo Bo told me that he has one child, a little girl in primary school. He has to pay for this all schooling costs money in Burma. He also told me that Madonna was ten years old. She had started working at the age of two and her work life expectancy was eighteen. She has had one foal, but work fell off and Bo Bo couldn’t afford to keep two horses, so he had to sell it.

The next night I was talked into visiting more temples. I really would have rather not, but I felt I should support the local economy, i.e. Madonna. I went out at five thirty and there she stood, patiently waiting. We set off and this time Bo Bo took me in another direction to where he said there would be no other tourists. It was dark inside the first temple we came to and empty except for a huge golden Buddha glowing in the gloom. On one side of it stone steps led up an inside spiral staircase to the top of the pagoda.

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