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December 17, 2003
|Marco Polo described Burma as "vast jungles teeming with elephants, unicorns, and other wild beasts." We ride a wild beast, the public bus, to Bago, which lies in eastern Myanmar. This region is home of the Mon people, one of the eight 'national races' (the other seven are Bamar, Shan, Kayin, Kayah, Chin, Kachin, Raychaing - each subgroup distinct in subtle ways of custom, language, and dress). Scholars consider the Mon to be among the first inhabitants. They introduced Theravada Buddhism from India. However, the Bamar remain the dominent group.|
Okay, transportation can be slow but usually there's a duck seller if you're hungry.
The beasts Marco Polo wrote about have left, but for good luck people buy captured birds and set them free.
We found a gypsy-like gambling fair that spread out on a field and took people's money. Games included betting on the role of a die with various animals on it's faces or versions of the shell game. Don't take gambling advice from monk.