although I enjoy boat trips, I'd have preferred a bus ride to bagan instead of an all day slow boat float on the irrawaddy. we had to get up extra early to get to the jetty so we can get good seats on the boat. We had assigned seats in the cabin but the open seating on the open deck would prove more enjoyable. And so we had to forego the 5 star breakfast at the marvel hotel. they gave us a breakfast box of boiled egg, croissant, a strange looking pastry and a banana instead. The boat ride was slow, boring and without entertainment. The included breakfast on the boat was just coffee/tea and 2 pieces of toast that were deep fried in greasy butter. for lunch we had a choice of fried rice or noodles. Both tasted awful. only some interesting town view at the beginning of the journey, some stupas, the mandalay and inwa bridges, otherwise, the views were of sandbars, some vegetation and very distant mountains. I was beginning to feel unwell, and being very hot on open deck, i went to the cabin to take a nap. By the latter part of the river journey, I was really feeling weak and sick and wanted nothing more than to get to our hotel in Bagan and rest.
our garden hotel was very nice, but full of mosquitoes. the staff even came daily to spray our rooms and bathrooms. i skipped dinner that night and the breakfast the following morning and dinner that night also. We visited 4 temples this morning, the first one, the Thit Sarwadi with good views of the entire place filled with stupas everywhere. In fact, there were a few stupas even in our hotel. stupas were mingled with houses, restaurants and shops. So many one could not possible see and photograph them all. the Ananda temple had murals inside that depicted the Buddha, lotus and flowers and standing buddhas, each facing a cardinal direction. After the stupas visit, I went back to the hotel to nurse my tummy cramps and rest. for some strange reason, I just felt all my energy sapped away, very tired and sleepy.
the next morning we visited 2 more temples the myinkaba gubyaukgyi that had murals on the interior walls, and the Manuha which had giant very upset looking buddhas. The murals in gubyaukgyi were quite interesting but I prefer frescoes and the european painted monasteries, probably because I was raised catholic. They did not allow photography inside the temples with murals but tour guides were allowed to shine torches on them. go figure! It also contained standing buddhas showing the 4 different mudras (hand positions). manuha, our last visited temple, contained gigantic stern looking buddhas with enormous chests and a reclining 'dead' buddha, built by kind manuba to represent his displeasure of captivity. This one was a cave style temple and very small, one could hardly walk there but the buddha statues were oversized with puffing chests, and super long slender fingers. quite interesting. This was the one I liked best.
skipping the lacquer shop, I returned to the hotel for a massage and to relax while some went to mount popa. I intentionally skipped popa because the reviews said there were aggressive monkeys everywhere and one had to walk the 700 so steps barefoot. Stepping on monkey droppings and urine barefoot while being attacked by stupid monkeys didnt sound too appetizing to me. The ones who went didnt expressed any particular enthusiasm when they returned. So I've gathered the view atop wasnt all that spectacular (mostly hazy again I guess) and not really worth the hassle.
While waiting for my soup at the pool side restaurant, I thought of perhaps renting a bike to leisurely tour the stupas on my own. then I've heard a crash. 1 from the group who rented a motorbike, crashed into a flowerpot, broke it and cut her lip, even before she set out from the hotel garden. The hotel staff rushed to the scene but they were more concerned about the flowerpot than the guest's injuries. The hotel tried to make her pay for the bike damages and for the broken pot. They've settled on paying the bike damages only. Wasnt buddha's teaching concerned more about people than material things? So much for motorbike rides.