Went to the Myanmar (Burmese) Embassy this morning to arrange my visa. What a relaxing experience. The Tuktuk driver said he'd wait for me, which I was a bit dubious about, but he didn't seem to be bothered, so I agreed. I went through a gate, expecting to see a colonial embassadorial residence and instead found a rather homely sort of bungalow. By comparison, the Mairie de Sauve is a chateau, although rather more run-down looking. The man at the gate pointed me up the steps, where I was met by a lady who gave me the necessary forms to fill in. There was only one page, asking the normal sort of questions; passport number, place of birth etc, although it had to be filled in duplicate. Three passport type photos were required. I only had two, which weren't actually passport size. When I told the lady, she just shrugged: 'OK two will be fine.' I handed over my 20$, or rather 180,000 Kip and was told that my three month visa would be ready on Thursday afternoon.
The whole process took about ten minutes and I left with free glossy brochures detailing the delights of the country.
Feeling at a bit of a loose end, I asked my driver to take me to 'The big, famous temple;' I couldn't remember its name. Ten minutes later, we arrived at a large complex, covering a few acres.
A woman approached, carrying a lot of tiny wooden cages containing even tinier birds. I must have looked a bit disapproving and rather curtly said no thanks. It was only a minute later that I discovered that this is quite a charming tradition. In fact, you pay her some money, she gives you a cage and you let the inmates free.
There's Buddhist symbolism for you.
Checked out some of the temples which were a little disappointing. One huge building had a golden Buddha inside which somehow reminded me more of a church, but obviously without the dreary vibe.
The most impressive thing there was a huge reclining Buddha and a giant Stupa which cost 5,000 Kip to enter, on the pretext that it housed a museum. The place was roughly square, with altars on two sides and a sort of cloister running round the outside. This was the 'museum.' There were lots of old bits of stone Buddhas and Nagas which had seen better days. There were no labels or descriptions, I want my 50p back.
Amongst all this debris was one interesting item, only because it didn't seem something which one normally associates with the tradition. Don't know about you, but I thought that there was something rather malevolent about it.
By this time, it was getting cloudy and thunder started rumbling. After the terrible heat, this came as a relief: rain, rain bee you tifool rain was approaching. It wasn't long coming.
Went and had lunch in a Chinese restaurant and by the time I came out, it was hammering down. Very pleasant it was too; such a change to be drenched with cooling rainwater than drenched in sweat.
Hobbled about for a mile or so, coming across the two images below and finally arrived at a bus station. Nobody could understand what I was on about, but it was just fun to stand at the shelter with the locals and feel cool in the by now heavy rain.
A little piece of found art at the side of the road.
Motorbike parking place.