National Geographic : 1971 Mar
for U San Win and me. Usually we ended the day with a visit to a sidewalk tea shop beside the unpaved main intersection of Nyaungu, a five-minute ride from the village of Pagan. Out of sight of the pagodas, we relaxed to the unhurried beat of small-town Burma. We watched as a crew of laborers, shovelful by shovelful, inched a trench past the shop, gaining a few feet each day. It would even tually carry pipes for the community's first water system. Two-wheeled, one-pony carts-the local taxis-waited across the road for fares. One displayed a chrome-plated automobile grille mounted ahead of the driver. The Chinese shopowner told us most carts ran on automo bile tires until a few years ago. Because of the economic squeeze there is a tire shortage, and all but one have reverted to the old high wooden wheels, which gives them the look of long-legged ostriches. As they clattered brisk ly past our table, they lent an unfair note of antiquity to the scene. Truckers from Manda lay and Rangoon occasionally stopped to transfer supplies to pony- and oxcarts for local distribution. Caravans of carts rumbled by with local jaggery and sesame-seed oil, carrying them to the river landing a few blocks away (pages 344-5). Across the road carpenters, working with native teak, were building a tea shop. And the Union of Burma Airways' new Japanese-made bus passed on its way to meet one of the twice-daily flights. HAD TALKED with the airline's young and optimistic general manager, Capt. Khin Maung Latt, in Rangoon. He looks forward to a welcome flood of foreign ex change now that Angkor is unavailable to tourists and Burma is encouraging them. "We're training multilingual guides and will offer various package tours. We expect 55,000 visitors in 1971." I couldn't picture thousands of tourists, no matter how dedicated, being accommodated in Pagan's eight-room guesthouse. "We are renovating and air-conditioning two old Irrawaddy passenger steamers," the captain explained. "They'll tie up permanent ly at Pagan until we can build a hotel." So at least this much of Kipling's "old flo tilla" will at last stop at Pagan. Tourists won't "'ear their paddles chunkin'," but if the dawn continues to be the only thing that "comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay," Pagan will become the busiest port on the road to Mandalay. U 364 "You can hardly take a step in Pagan with out treading on bits of centuries-old build ing bricks or roofing tiles," says the author. Here archeological field workers carry away topsoil, baring remnants of a shrine. Pagan's restoration began in 1899, after hundreds of years of neglect. KODACHROMES 15) N.b.S . Mortarless mountain, Somingyi stupa lifts its brooding bell-shaped dome above the plain. It owes its survival to careful work manship and the dry climate. Burma's long-time policy of issuing only 24-hour visas has limited travel to Pagan. Today, granting seven-day permits, the nation looks to increased revenues from visitors. Barred from war-torn Cambodia's Angkor, many tourists are turning to the glories of shrine-studded Pagan.