Sunday, May 4, 2014

friendly barter

Shwedagon pagoda

Esther and I left Yangon with it's pilgrimage inducing Shwedagon pagoda to see ones with a little less shine, but no less the historical significance.

Temples dot the land of Bagan in the thousands. Although thousands less than what it once could claim.

Seated in the back of a small horse-drawn carriage, our driver lead us to the most renown of the bunch.

But with fame comes people trying to cash in on it. Namely, vendors.

They line the pathways leading up to the largest of temples selling clothing, post cards, small statues, paintings, lacquerware and other nicknacks.

On one such pathway a vendor called out to me as we walked by.

"My wife says she likes your shirt."  A blue sequined number I had bought a few years before.

I glanced over to his smiling wife.

"Where did you get it?" he asked.

"In America," I told him.

"How much was it?" he prodded.

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe $25."

"I'll trade you some lacquerware for it."

I laughed. "What?"

He began explaining how hard it is to get modern items - any item - without it costing the equivalent of an arm and a leg.

So on the temple grounds I strip off my shirt, replacing it with another provided to me, and hand it to the woman. She was left wildly happy while I was one piece of lacquerware richer.

"Maybe I'm more jaded than you," Esther commented as we walked away. "Because I would have never done that."

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