Humility / by Shaun Ventulan

My cousin and I rented out a bicycles that day. It was a fixed gear bike that gave me a cramp twice that day. We decided to head to a pagoda to explore and take a break from the battering sun. 

As soon as we got there, we met Koko. He told us he wanted to show us something. We walk inside the pagoda. The head space was small, the floor was as cold as graphite, there were feathers, and sand. It reminded me of Indiana Jones, and I was waiting for a snake to slither through. Fortunately enough, there weren't any snakes.

We had a small conversation of how beautiful Bagan is. He offered us beetle nut, a powdered substance that can be chewed. I asked him if I could take a picture of him. He said yes. He posed and smiled. He said he wanted to show off his teeth, as the beetle nut has reinforced them and he has never had issues with his teeth.

After this picture was taken, he told us he is an artist and would like to show off some of his work. 

We followed Koko to a smaller pagoda. He said it is best to view them in here. The light from the small door illuminated his paintings. 

The paintings were all made out of sand and powered gold. They were all intricate pieces of work. He explains that many of them share templates of works, but he has some original ones.

I asked him to show his favorite piece. He shows me the glory of old Bagan, in gold. The painting was rather hefty. Black ink and glittering specs. We ended up buying a piece of his work. Buddha's Palm and a gold leaf elephant.  

The next day, my cousin and I looked for a place to get breakfast. As we drove by a small shack, he calls my cousin's name. He bought us breakfast. I could not fathom the humility. 

When I asked him if I could take a photo of him, he smiled and showed off his painting.