Running these dusty roads in complete darkness, just before sunrise. I step into a centuries old shrine, shoes & socks off, and am face to face with Buddha.
In total darkness. Barefoot on hard bricks, I kneel down, prostrate before a manifestation of the One.
The sun rises. By 6:00am the tiny village nearby is blasting—Bronx style speaker volume—Buddhist music. In the distance, incessant calls to meditate emanate from Ananda—perhaps the most visited temple in Bagan.
Just yesterday on this road, the young man on his motorbike dropped a bag filled with small red apples. I paused mid-run to help pick them up.
Just down the road, the young man pulled up beside me, “You need help?”
He patted the seat behind him, offering me a ride.
“Jezu-ba.” Thank you.
I ran on.
Passing now through lushly forested mountains in central Myanmar, this would be a one lane back road in the U.S. It is a major highway here. Perhaps it’s best to not know what the driver is doing as we are 20 feet behind another van winding our way through switchbacks.
We’ve stepped back in time. Perhaps this is the place time forgot.
Horse drawn carriages dominated the roads in town, as countless women walked by carrying large plates of foods on their heads.
One lady approached first, yellowish-white paint on cheeks, large plate on head.
I bought two small bags of strange little local fruits. One looks apple-like. Semi-sweet. Nice.
She basically forced me to accept a small plastic bag to put my plastic bags inside of.
Then she proceeded to peel a reed, plate balancing atop head, weathered hands, dirt beneath nails. A piece for me. Then a piece for my new German friend. Then more for me. Without saying a word, she continued peeling. I ate the reed as pieces of it accumulated in hand.
She looked over at me quietly. Peeling, passing, peeling, passing.
Giving. Giving. Giving.