When in Rome, follow what I ask you to doDecember 29, 2016

It must be the middle-aged man, whose English was barely comprehensible to the tourists in the minibus (or so I thought). It could be the long journey as well. Bagan was the tourist trap in Myanmar, but I wasn't keen to check out the temples after my arrival. The afternoon reminded me of Siem Reap, and I was thinking of taking a nap. A local was eager to take me on a tour of the monasteries, and I agreed to his offer without thinking long and hard about my itinerary. It turned out that I wasn't feeling good, so there was a change of plan. I understood the local, who had a carriage, to be upset about the happening. I made a lot of apologies to the manager of the hostel, and she understood that I didn't intend it. I even paid half of the amount that the local and I agreed on. I didn't leave Bagan without being shamed by the middle-aged man. I couldn't help but argue with him. It turned out that he wanted me to pay the other half, and I didn't prolong our heated conversation.

My flatmates thought I was lucky to leave the town unhurt, as worse things might have happened before my departure. They were alluding to a recent news, where an Aussie couple has to do the walk of shame on the island of Dili. The local police found them stealing a bicycle. There was scant information in the report, but I couldn't share their sentiments. On one hand, the couple was lucky that they won't leave Indonesia with decapitated hands. They were spared of prison, and I couldn't imagine what might happen. Do as the Roman would do, as the saying go. My experience in Bagan taught me to have a presence of mind, all the time. I wasn't accustomed to the heat, which zapped my energy. On the other hand, I could have stayed calm. Sorry wasn't enough for the man, and he made sure that the other tourists would know my wrongdoing. There was silence (during our heated conversation).

I wouldn't think of writing about it (if I ever consider a travel blog), but I might opt for a fictional account of the events (if I should pen my first book). I was thinking of a visit to the temples, and touching a rock statue of an elephant unintentionally. It turned out that this was forbidden among tourists. There would be a commotion, and I could use "A Passage to India" as a reference. It would be remote from the novel, as the Burmese people were generally gentle and accommodating to foreigners. I shuddered after wondering if the incident (in Bagan) happened in Dili instead. I was certain of doing the walk of shame, and my mates saw it. Mum would be displeased, while Dad won't say a word for days. There won't be any excuse for bad behavior, but I didn't intend to break a conversation. It turned out to be an agreement, written in stone. I didn't perceive the cultural differences at all.

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