|We got to sleep in until 5am. We headed to the monastery. The sun was already up, but the light was that of an early morning. We sat at the edge, overlooking the misty valley below. A number of women were sweeping the grounds. They worked quickly and efficiently. Despite there being no audience, the band played on, and several people were still dancing on stage. At 6am, the generator stopped producing electricity, and a much-anticipated silence fell upon the monastery. Little novice monks were kicking bottles and balloons along with other, rather sleepy-looking children. Many of them probably stayed up all night, having a great time.
We just sat there, taking in the morning. Several kids came over to us, but the novelty seemed to have warned off a bit. They seemed more at ease with having us around. They became used to seeing us in their environment. That only made us wish we could stay longer.
By the time we got back to where we were staying, the monks were enjoying their breakfast upstairs in silence. Downstairs, they had to serve breakfast to most of the people in the village, and no sooner did we have our noodles with tofu, then they ran out of food completely. Out came the emergency, instant noodles.
The chanting coming from upstairs signified to us that the monks were finished their breakfast. Shortly after we saw them trickle out of the house. We were invited by the family to have more food upstairs. We were already stuffed, but couldn't really refuse.
We were ready to leave by 9:30am, a couple of hours behind schedule according to Thura's rough estimates. We thanked the family, and said our goodbyes. We left the village quickly, before any of the kids realized what was happening. It was really sad. I waved at some of them on our way out.
The going was tough. The climbing wasn't a problem despite of some really rough and steep sections. Then came the promised downhill. The road was washed out with deep grooves leftover from trucks, and big ruts and rocks everywhere. I resorted to walking my bike a good portion of the way. We stopped at a couple of villages along the way. In one of the villages we bought some hand-made bags, woven out of threads that came from a local tree. We were happy to buy them from the hands that crafted them. They smelled like the trees they came from, and had a very simple and practical design.
At another village we were invited for some tea by a couple of sisters and their mother. There were two little kids in the room where we were seated. We gave them our last box of pencil crayons and a notebook. The three women were so welcoming, they asked us to stay with them overnight a couple of times. We would have in a heartbeat, but we knew we had to carry on.
The road continued to be atrocious, going from bad to worse. Then things became even more interesting as the night set in. Luckily, the full moon just happened, and so there was a fair bit of light. Eventually, the road condition improved and we made up for some lost time. We arrived back in Kyaukme at 8pm on Sunday.