Fly to Bagan •
Temples of Bagan • Cruise the Irrawaddy River
Early this morning, we'll transfer to the airport for a short flight to central Burma. Our destination is Bagan, also known as the "City of Four Million Pagodas." Many of the pagodas and temples are small and simple—but the number of them is staggering. Although Bagan's centuries-old shrines, pagodas, and stupas do not actually total in the
millions, there are well over 2,000 of them scattered along the remote 26-square-mile plain, flanked on one side by the Irrawaddy River. This qualifies Bagan as the largest temple city on the planet, as well as one of the most important archaeological areas in all of Asia. The majority of ruins in Bagan were constructed between the eleventh and 13th centuries, a time when Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire.
We take a brief tour of Shwe Sandaw Pagoda, before we head to a village market in the town of Nyaung-U: a great opportunity to mingle with the locals and wander among stalls that feature locally-grown crops, rattan items, tea leaves, and colorful traditional clothing.
Then, we pause outside the gold-domed Shwezigon Payaon our way to witness the beauty of Ananda Pahto, a terraced temple peaked in shimmering gold that is considered a symmetrical masterpiece. Built around 1090 by a Burmese king inspired by tales of visiting Indian monks, Ananda's perfection qualified it to serve as a prototype for successive Burmese temples. Inside its whitewashed walls are four large statues of Buddha, each with a different facial expression.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll check into our hotel followed by some time at leisure. Then we'll visit a lacquer ware shop to learn about this local tradition before heading to a nearby jetty. Here, we'll board a boat to gain a new vantage of the Irrawaddy (also called the Ayeyarwady). The people and the country's economy depend on this natural resource, as you will undoubtedly observe by the countless number of barges, bamboo rafts, and fishing boats that ply the waters around us. From on board, we will be able to observe how everyday life plays out along the riverbanks.
We dine as a group at a local restaurant this evening.
1 of 2 nights MYANMAR TREASURE HOTEL
56 SHWE TAUNG GYAR ROAD.
Tel: 011 95 61 65443Website: WWW.MYANMAR.TREASURE.COM
Wake-up call at 4 am, suitcases out in front of the rooms at 4:15 am and meet in the lobby at 4:30 am.
We got a boxed breakfast and started nibbling some waiting, or in the bus.
In the airport we each got a sticker. If you looked around: different airline, different sticker.
The flight from Yagon to Bagan was only 1 and 1/2 hours.
This is Bagan Airport.
Of course a bus was waiting and we went sightseeing right away. This place is something else and I don't even know how to explain it.
Here you can best read about it!
40 flat sq.miles studded with over 2,000 stupas, temples and monasteries. Farmers are allowed to use the land in between but it is the dry season.
Whenever we come to a temple, the bus boy (driver's helper) gives us each a packaged single wet wipe, because we have to take shoes and socks off.
This is the only one which we actually could climb up. Not easy for our western feet.
But so worth it!
The entrance to going down again.
We didn't go far and stopped at a local market.
You should have seen her knife!
Ronald stopped every so often to explain something to us. This young woman sells these grinding stones and pieces of would. They make paste with the powder and everybody (mainly women and children) have that on their faces. Supposedly it is sun protection but it has also a cooling effect. We each got some on our face. It really was cooling for a little while (might have been longer if we hadn't wiped it off).
Here on the left over the counter is a basket hanging with a baby in it. I wouldn't have seen it if fellow traveler Kathy hadn't pointed it out to me.
See the little socked feet sticking out?
The betel leaf chew vendors can get their supply here I guess.
Everything is so simple. This farmer transports his stuff just in a cloth.
We tried guessing what this is. It's fish paste.
Remember we visited General Aung San's secret office? It would have been the hero's 100th birthday today.
Visiting Ananda Phaya, one of the more important temples.
Besides a lot of small Buddhas there are 4 really large ones. One on each side in the middle. They all have different hand gestures.
Look how this one points at the tree of life looking from the side. I think this tourist got side tracked.
Ronald told us to take a close-up of the head of this one when standing near ...
... and then step back and see him smile.
Photo opportunity from another side.
Time for lunch. It is a Green Elephant restaurant again, this one on the Bank of the Irrawaddy River. We had liked the one in Yangon very much.
When they bring the food they always beat some gong. Yup, VIDEO!
It was very nice near the river. Walking to the bus of course there were children selling things. James couldn't resist to buy some homemade cards from one of the girls. When we "admired" them in the bus we found that there was something written on the back of one of them. James asked Ronald what it meant and he said "son of a dog".
Arrival at the hotel and some free time. James went for a swim but the water is cold.
After some rest (free time) the bus took us to a lacquerware factory. This is the artist/owner who explained to us the progress. It seems to take several months including the drying times to make/finish something. You got a new appreciation for this.
After that the bus took us to the river where a hired boat was waiting.
Of course as soon as we were out of the bus the girls offered things for sale. I was already in the boat and this girl gestured "look, your size". How flattering!
The sunset was not quite what we had hoped for but it still was very nice.
Dinner was included tonight. It was a very nice restaurant and we sat outside.