After getting off the bus It was just me and two Chinese tourists. We shared a taxi to town. The guy kept telling us that all the hotels were full, but we kept trying nevertheless. It turns out he was right, literally every place in town was full.
I read that in Myanmar, like in most Buddhist places, you can sleep at temples if all else fails. Unfortunately, to avoid abuse and to offset the cost of the nightly barrage of homeless tourists, the temple in town charges 6000 Kyat/$7 for their basic accommodations.
To be honest, I would have paid more. It was really, really cold. It’s hard to estimate, but for sure it was below 10C/50F. I also think that most if not all the money paid goes to the people who maintain the accommodations area in the temple.
The accommodation was essentially one long wooden pallet. A thin blanket is placed over the wood and a pillow is provided. Blankets to keep you warm are provided and girls are given a thin mattress to sleep on. I put a shirt on top of the pillow like I did at the Golden Temple and used my sleeping bag insert as neither are probably washed often.
It was about 4am by the time I got all settled in and brushed my teeth. I fell asleep and woke up at about 8:15am. By any measure it wasn’t much sleep, but I woke up feeling great!
I was the first of the tourists to wake up. I went to the bathroom, got my things, and took a bicycle rickshaw to where I had a reservation for the evening.
As I was leaving, two kids entered the temple and one gave me this piece of paper. They didn’t speak English, so I didn’t have any idea of what was going on. But we were all laughing, which is the most important thing. I later asked what they wrote on the paper and was told it was some kind of action hero they had invented.
During the day it occurred to me that for other people, what I just experienced would have been a nightmare. It was so cold, the “bed” was so hard, the sheets were probably dirty, etc. It might have been the crazy story they talked about after their trip to Myanmar.
For me it shows the wonderful hospitality of the Burmese and the monks in general. In the morning I went inside the temple and saw a monk. He greeted me with a smile and offered to show me where I could sleep, not realizing I had slept there the night before. He asked me if I had a comfortable night and I assured him it was perfect.
This is kind of what life is all about:
- You hit a roadblock. In my case I was freezing and no hotels were available.
- You don’t get angry or nervous or upset. You go with the flow.
- Some opportunity presents itself.
- Everything works out one way or another.
- You feel grateful.
- If you’re lucky, then this cycle repeats.
I thank the Burmese monks for their hospitality and below are some pictures.