Pindaya is well known for making decorative paper and umbrellas.
To make the paper, mulberry bark is first soaked for a day or so and then boiled for about eight hours. Then the process of pounding the fibres to a pulp begins. Mashing the boiled fibers is a long process of rhythmically pounding with two mallets.
When the pulp is soft enough, it’s rubbed into a small bowl of water and swished to mix.
A rectangular wooden frame with a stretched cotton base is placed into a bath of water. When the pulp in the bowl is liquid enough, it’s poured into the water. A good swishing spreads the pulp evenly in the water across the cotton base.
After the pulp has settled, petals and leaves are added to decorate the paper.
After a minute or two of settling, the frame is lifted from the water bath and put into the sun to dry.
The finished paper is then lifted from the cotton backing.
The Pindaya Caves date back to the late 1700’s and consist of many chambers filled with approximately 8,000 Buddha statues. Visitors can walk up steep covered pathways to get to the entrance or use a more modern method (car and elevator) to get to the top.
The Archer and Spider outside the caves represent the legend of a giant spider that captured seven princesses and imprisoned them in one of the caves. A prince from Inle Lake bravely battled the spider and shot it with a single deadly arrow.
I’ve never had the desire to ride in a hot air balloon and originally said no to the Ballons Over Bagan option during the planning of our trip. Debra and John opted out as well. Our travel agent highly recommended it so we reconsidered and signed on…….and I’m so glad we did!
We were picked up before sunrise at our hotel and taken to the launch site in a really cool refurbished antique bus.
After arriving at the launch site, we were briefed on passenger safety and then watched the crews inflate the balloons.Surprisingly to me, the baskets held seventeen people (16 passengers plus the pilot). Below, our pilot (Chris) blasts the burners and we climbed aboard soon after.And we’re off……The flight was very peaceful and quiet, with the exception of occasional blasts from the burners.Up next: Flying over the stupas and pagodas.
Myanmar has been producing lacquerware for over four century’s. Bagan became the industry’s hub in the 20th century, and in the 1920’s the British founded a lacquerware school in the city to foster the craft.
The lacquerware shop we visited had items for sale on the lower level. The second floor had about 15 people working on various pieces that would eventually end up for sale downstairs.
The first 2 photos below are panoramas of the 2nd floor. Workers can be seen engaged in various stages of lacquerware production.
The process of making lacquerware includes weaving of bamboo (like in the photo below), molding and drying of lacquer putty, engraving, and polishing. A small bowl can take a few months to complete while a large object with elaborate designs can take up to a year to finish.
Lacquerware goes up in price based on the finer the detail and the more colors and layers of lacquer applied to the piece (15 coats is the norm for a quality item).
Erich did some serious negotiating for the goods I wanted. He was so proud of himself that he had me take a picture of him and the salesgirl.
During our trishaw ride in Dhala we made stops to visit a few local businesses. The spring roll wrapper shop had two young men making the wrappers and two women doing the packaging.
Our next stop was at a candle factory.
This boy and cat were resting near the factory entrance.
On our way back to the ferry, our guide (Lily) noticed a wedding celebration taking place and arranged for us to check it out. We met the newlyweds and were then invited inside. He is 28 and she is 16.
Erich liked the drink we were offered. It was made with milk so I spared myself the digestive agony and did not partake.
On our last day in Yangon we took the ferry across the Yangon River to Dhala. Before leaving the hotel to catch the ferry, our guide Lily applied thanaka paste to our faces. The paste is made by grinding the bark of the thanaka tree on a flat, smooth stone with water. The milky yellow liquid dries quickly once it’s applied. Thanaka is valued as a sunscreen and as a beauty product. In rural areas men and women apply it on their arms, legs and faces to prevent sunburn and sun damage. Urban female office workers who spend less time in the sun wear thanaka for its beauty and cosmetic purposes.
We walked past a street market on our way to the ferry.
I was in awe of this boy reading to other children in the ferry waiting area. They were engaged in the story and not running around. I kept thinking I’d never see this in the U.S.A.
The ferry arrived and the passengers were ready to depart.