Chef Sumet’s Cooking Demonstration
This was the second day of sailing. We were entertained in the morning with a cooking demonstration by Chef Sumet. He prepared a traditional Burmese rice vermicelli with fish broth and condiments. The name of the soup is called Mohinga. Not sure if it is exactly a soup or a vermicelli dish. It is usually eaten at breakfast but can be eaten at any meal.
I won’t include the recipe ( I”ll be glad to email it to you) since it is extremely lengthy but just a few details of the demonstration:
Here is the finished product – The chef made everything from scratch – fish broth, chili paste and finally the Mohinga. It was delicious, although I am not sure I would eat it for breakfast. Chef Sumet was very detailed and knowledgeable. He gave us a lot of cooking information, especially about Asian ingredients. Everyone enjoyed the demonstration and the samples.
Akauk Taung/ Tax Mountain
As we continued up the river we were told to look for the carvings of hundreds of Buddhas along the sides of the cliffs. At the end of the Second Anglo-Burmese War, Burmese and British toll posts were situated on Akauk Taung – a site that takes its name from the mid-nineteenth century toll takers who would kill time in between charging passing boats by carving Buddha images on the steep cliffs.
The day we were traveling was also a holiday so we saw hundreds of people visiting the pagoda on the top of the cliff as well as viewing the carved Buddhas by boat along the cliffs.
Some of the carvings of Buddhas along the cliffsides
Life Along the River On the Way To Pyay
The Beautiful Shwe Sandaw Pagoda
The riverboat arrived earlier than expected into Pyay so we had an unexpected excursion to the town center and lovely pagoda.
As we walked up to the temple, we saw people selling all kinds of things. Our guide pointed out the betel leaves and explained how it is used. Basically, it is made up of the betel nut (actual name is areca nut), slaked lime and catechu ( catechu is the extract from the areca palm tree and when heated by your saliva becomes a thick red paste) which is then wrapped in a betel leaf. Similar to snuff, it is drug and has been linked to several oral health issues. It has a stimulant effect somewhat like caffeine. In 2017, the government of Myanmar launched a nationwide campaign to stop the use of the betel nut chewing. It has become the leading cause of death in the country.
Usually, at the entrance of every temple, all kinds of flowers and objects are sold as symbolic offerings. These bright red and silver umbrella-like objects were seen at every temple.
At first, I just saw the view but then as I looked to the left, I saw this giant Buddha sitting among the trees.
We had a chance to wander around on our own. It is truly overwhelming to see the glittering gold and oversized decorated Buddhas which make up most of the temple architecture. It is hard to know what to photograph.
On our way out we walked through a long passageway filled with all kinds of unusual things to buy. Unfortunately, We were rushed through and really didn’t have time to look at everything. I took this photo of these colorful owls.
The pagoda was not that far from the boat so we all decided to walk back. It was a lovely afternoon without any rain in sight. As I was walking along an older gentleman came out from a building and walked toward me and started speaking in English. He wanted to know where I was from and was I enjoying my visit to Myanmar. Then he told me a bit about himself. I couldn’t really talk further as I had to stay with the group. So he kindly allowed me to take his photo.
Just before we reached the boat we passed through a market and enjoyed seeing some of the fruit and vegetables and also stopped to watch people cooking on the street. Shawn and I were disappointed that we didn’t have much time to take photos.
That evening after we arrived back on the boat, we enjoyed some local entertainment. A Burmese dance group accompanied by musicians performed for us. The dances were unusual and the dancers very colorful. The music was extremely dissonant and somewhat hard for western ears to listen to. Historically, the traditions of Burmese music go back at least 1500 years. It was, although, a treat to take a peek at this part of the Burmese culture.
The next morning we visited Sri Kestra in Pyay, a World Heritage Site. See what it is all about in my next post.