After taking a four hour bus ride from Kinpun to Bago, I linked up with a local guide to see the sights for a few hours before my next bus later that day, 12 hours north to Kalaw. After agreeing on a price, my guide and I set off on his motorbike to see some unusual sights. Our first stop was to a reclining Buddha which was 182 feet long… a pretty impressive piece of work. Throughout our time at the reclining Buddha, my trustworthy guide spoke mostly about either Buddhism or penile enlargement injections that many Burmese men went to Thailand to get, which was an odd combination. When referring to the male genitalia, he would use the term “banana,” which I found quite amusing.
From the reclining Buddha, he then took me to a monastery which was bombed during WWII… there were still bullet holes through the building! We then continued on to another monastery, where the Burmese Buddhists worship a 108 year old snake that was the reincarnation of a very holy woman that had lived in the region years ago. The snake, which was enormous, looked pretty lazy as I barely saw it move while I was there. But then again, I probably wouldn’t be moving much if I was 108 either.
On our way out of the monastery, my guide turned to me and inquired “Would you like some penis?” I was a bit taken aback. “Ummm, excuse me?” I replied. “Penis, would you like some penis,” he asked again. Quite an aggressive question to be asking a stranger, I thought to myself. And in front of a monastery no less! And why would he change from using the word banana to the more formal vernacular? “I like women, so no. But thanks for asking, I guess?” I don’t think he understood my reply, but when he pulled a bag of peanuts from his bag, I felt quite relieved. While I was pretty sure what his intentions were at this point, I declined from eating the peanuts, just to be safe. When I explained to him what he was actually saying, we had quite the chuckle.
From there, we visited a cigarette factory where women from 16 – 60 years of age worked 11 hour days rolling smokes. It made me realize how good we have it back home, but it also again made me see how hard women work in these “3rd world” countries. Not to say that men don’t do much, but I consistently notice women working in the fields while men chat and sip tea in coffee shops…just an observation.
After the cigarette factory, we headed on back to his house to meet his family and have some snacks. While he did this to give me a more “real” idea of how people live in Myanmar, I have the inkling that he really just wanted to show me how poor he was so I would pay him more for the tour. If he only knew how poor I actually was! His cunning tactics didn’t work on yours truly, but it was fun getting to meet his beautiful wife and child.
Upon finishing lunch, we jumped back on his bike and headed back to the station for my overnight bus. I advised him again how to offer future clients peanuts and bid him adieu as I jumped on my connecting transportation. I settled in for the long haul and reflected on the past few hours. Just another typical Burmese day of seeing gigantic Buddhas, praying to century old snakes and having conversations with the locals about penile enlargement surgery. Gotta love it.