Man this place is hot. I have traveled to many hot places in the world. We hiked the Samarian Gorge in Crete and it was over 40C and that was hot, but here the numbers are not as high but the 30 C on the scale and the humidity combine to make the heat devastating. When we left Edmonton we checked out the weather channel and it read “feels like 45 C”, we laughed. I have never been much of a fan of air conditioning, but when we return to the car after even a short outing that cool air is good. I have to think twice about getting out of the car for the next adventure.
Yesterday R mentions that he recounted his exchanged funds and he was short changed $100 US. That is equivalent to about 100,000 Kaht. This morning, R&L need to exchange some more US to Kaht so we head over to the Farmer Currency Exchange again. He walks in and the girl recognizes him right away. She felt very sorry, realizing after we left that she did short change him and then without question hands him the missing funds. We are all amazed and are celebrating human nature as we drive away. A few blocks later, R says to L, “I did it again. We didn’t get enough Kaht this time either. I’m short about 90,000.” Our driver slows, pulls over and then turns around. We drive back to the exchange. As R and Ow walk into the shop, the young ladies are all smiling and laughing and tell them that they realized the mistake right away and the young fellow here made chase on his motorbike but couldn’t catch us, so he had to return to the shop. She handed the remaining funds over to R with many “Sorrys” and a big smile. We once again drove off celebrating the young women and their honesty. If you need to exchange funds in Mandalay, definitely go to Farmer Currency Exchange on 30th Street between 65th and 66th Street.
Now our day can start. As we drive towards our first temple for the day, Ow tells us he stays at his old monastery whenever he is in Mandalay. Ow was a monk between ages 19 and 29 (he is now 45). He asks us if we would like to visit the monastery and his abbot, who is in charge of the monastery. We all enthusiastically say YES!
We arrive at the monastery and meet Mr. Nandumala, or Uncle Abbot as we fondly called him. We sit around a table outside and Uncle Abbot treats us to small bananas, toast with jam and tea. He doesn’t speak English, so Ow translates our questions to him and our answers to his queries. He tells us he is celebrating his 59th birthday soon and asks us how old we all are. Murray says 60, R says 57, L says 55 and I say 29. Uncle Abbot burst out laughing and everyone had a good guffaw. We chat about Buddhism, Muslims, India, Canada and running a monastery. He is very friendly, laughs a lot, and holds our gaze very steadily. We all walk away from our meeting with Uncle Abbot in awe and smiling.
Once again we see too many temples. They each have something different to offer, but they are blending together. One’s Buddha is 423 ft tall, one has 45 Buddha’s, one has a gold Buddha, one Buddha is reclining and then there are fields of Buddhas.
Other than temples, we see sesame plants growing, cotton fields, corn fields and ox carts loaded with bananas. Most Burmese drive vehicles with right hand drive, but the roads are right hand drive just like at home. So for us, this is quite odd, it feels backwards, or sideways. Drivers use their horns to signal that they are passing another vehicle, or to warn cross traffic or pedestrians that they are approaching. Murray says that we are once again in the land of talking horns.
We spend another day hopping in and out of the vehicle, in and out of the heat.