A travel moment in Myanmar


Last year I took a trip to Myanmar with a good friend of mine.
At the heart of the country, next to the city of Mandalay lies the ancient city of Bagan that hides an impressive number of ancient stupas, temples and buildings. A vast network of paths and trails, along with a few roads, allow travelers to roam around the area at their pace.
We had opted for the popular choice of cycling, and early in the morning we were heading fast to the first temples we had picked on the map to catch glimpses of sunrise. It was going to be a beautiful hot sunny day, and we could already see the bright glows of golden stupas in the distance and we excitedly cycled our way for a few kilometers, until we passed through a massive old gate named Tharabha that impressively marks the entrance of the ancient Bagan area
Few minutes later however, we suddenly had to stop on the side of the trail, as both my friend's tires unexpectedly went flat at the same time.
This had happened only a few hundred meters from the first massive building that we had planned to start with.
We were cursing against the bad luck that would be forcing us to walk the bike back on the trails to the rental shop when a local passed by on his motorbike. He had stopped out of curiosity, and quickly assessing our situation, he had smiled and offered to help.
In a few minutes, my friend was sitting behind him and we helped him to hold the bike, upside down and sideways, in between them.
I laughed as I watched them leave hesitantly at first, the bike swinging from left to right, but quickly they found balance and eased away, and soon they were out of my sight.
Later on I met them at the rental shop and we all enjoyed well deserved cold drinks and shared stories, before we finally resumed our riding back to the temples.
One of the stories he told us, is that locals believe in ancient spirits, also called nats. They are believed to guard holy sites, and, in Bagan, no traveller should go straight through Tharabha gate without paying respects to the guardian nats to ask for good fortune.
Believe it or not, reaching the gate for the second time, we looked at each other and we did stop and paused in silence for a moment. I think now, looking back, that this moment felt like seconds of magic.
The rest of the day was magnificent.

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