There may be over 2,200 temples, pagodas, and monasteries on the dusty red plains of Bagan but all I wanted to do today was sleep on a lounge shaded by a red umbrella beside the jade green pool lined with little clay elephants at the Tharabar Gate Hotel. “I cannot look at temples this afternoon,” I confessed to my young guide, Sai, when he suggested an afternoon visit to the Shwezigon Pagoda.
He looked at me quizzically. “Perhaps you are not feeling well?”
“I feel fine. Just tired.”
“Ah,” he said, nodding. “It has been a lot.”
“Yes,” I said. “It has been a lot. I’m sorry. I know Bagan is one of the most amazing places in the world. And I am very much looking forward to seeing its temples. But not today. Today I want to nap by the pool.”
Sai smiled. “Okay,” he said. “No problem. Tomorrow we go to Shwezigon?”
And so, with more than a little bit of guilt, I took the afternoon off. I walked from one end of the pale green pool to the other. I ordered a tropical cocktail. And I fell asleep on my lounge chair while reading Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar once again. It was the perfect afternoon.
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