Now that the sun had risen, we were going to move further into the valley. Before descending our pagoda we looked out into the valley and picked our next destination. This one was big and loomed over the others. Back on the bikes we sped along the dirt paths and tried is best not to get stuck in the deep sand.
It’s pretty easy to get distracted in this place because you’re literally surrounded by structures nearly 1000 years old. We rarely we straight to a chosen temple. We stopped at anything that caught our eye and got out to explore. So before we even made it to the big looming temple we found ourselves parked outside of a huge pagoda with a few villages huts nearby. Now lots of temples have vendors and beggars trying to sell you something, but nothing compared to what we saw next.
Out from the hut came a little girl with short hair and huge eyes. She couldn’t talk really, all she could say to us was “Money”. We declined and she happily began walking back to to her home. The mother made a motion at her and she spun around and continued to follow us. We asked her age, and she couldn’t speak, but she help up 3 little fingers. This toddler was already asking tourists for money. She was so young she still babbled when she talked. She followed us around the site while we looked around, and just hung out the whole time. It posed a moral problem for us, and certainly not the last on our tour. In the end, we couldn’t give this girl any money, as it would only reinforce the notion that using the children in this way was okay. Time and time again we saw kids coming to us and asking for money. And they couldn’t care less if we said no. After denying one little girl she stuck out her for a handshake then a fist bump. The kids were adorable, but the practices being taught by some of the parents was disheartening. All you could do in these situations was be nice and never give money.
In Yangon we were approached by children on the street on 2 separate occasions where they would ask the same series of questions. “Where are you from?” “Oh, Canada! Very Cold. Justin Beiber?”. It’s was almost as if they were trained to say the same thing in multiple languages. One buy who claimed to know 4 languages could only ask your name, and where you are from in French as well.
But back to the large temple – which we’ll cover in the next post.