Nov. 24, 2015
After an early morning (6:30am) 1.5 hour flight from Yangon, we
arrived in Bagan, Myanmar. Bagan is home to 60,000 people and over
2200 pagodas and temples, scattered over a 26 square mile plain
along the Irrawaddy River. Bagan is the largest temple city on earth
and one of the most important archaeological areas in Asia. They
were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries when Bagan
was the capital of the first Burmese empire. As we drove from the
airport to our first stop, we could see them poking up everywhere.
These look very different from the ones we saw in Yangon. They are
made of brick and cement.
first stop was to the Shwesandaw Pagoda. There we took off our shoes
and socks (a requirement of every pagoda and temple in Myanmar)
and climbed up very steep, uneven stone steps to the top for a view
of the area. While a difficult climb (and even worse coming down!),
it was definitely worth it. Pagodas and temples stretched in all
directions as far as the eye could see. To view a video pan of the
area, click here.
then drove to Ananda Temple, a terraced temple peaked in gold. It
was built in the 11th century by a Burmese King and is in the shape
of a Greek cross. The architecture inside was also interesting with
fancy arches and alcoves. Inside each arm of the cross are 4 giant
gold standing Buddhas.
before lunch, we stopped at a local market where villagers were
busy shopping for fresh produce, dried fish and spices. As we wandered
among the stalls with the local people, the sights, sounds and smells
gave us a good feel for what is a big part of the daily activity
in the village.
lunch on a lovely outdoor terrace of a restaurant along the river,
we checked into our hotel, the Myanmar Treasure Resort. This is
very different from the multi-storied hotel in Yangon. It has multiple
two story buildings spread around a lush campus that includes a
restaurant and outdoor swimming pool. Our room was nice and large
but the bed had a very, very firm mattress.
the afternoon we visited the Ever Stand Lacquerware Workshop to
learn about this local craft. It is a very labor intensive process
with many detailed steps to complete the finished products. Watching
the people at work we decided it would never pass OSHA!
final event for the day was a 1 hour boat ride on the Irrawaddy
River. The boat was something else, with a long shaft for a rudder
and a tiny propeller on the end. We pulled up onto a sandbar and
the captain took the benches off the boat for us to sit on. Bunny
had brought some beer and soft drinks so we had a nice relaxing
time watching the sun set over the water.
Nov. 25, Bagan, Myanmar
started the day with a one hour horse-drawn cart ride through the
archaeological zone. Horse-drawn carts are a major form of transportation
in Bagan, along with motor bikes and bicycles. There are alot fewer
cars in Bagan than in Yangon. But they all share the same narrow
roads which is a little scary. Our horse cart took us on some dirt
paths off the highway where we could view the pagodas and temples
up close. We
learned that the difference between a temple and a pagoda is that
you can go inside a temple, whereas a pagoda is a solid structure
that you visit around the outside. Both are sacred sites for paying
homage to Buddha.
the cart ride, we visited the Damayangi Temple which still has original
art drawings on the walls and ceilings from the 12th century. The
drawings had been whitewashed over in the previous temple.
last stop before lunch was to a local village to see how palm sugar
is made. The owner climbed up the sugar palm tree with buckets to
get the syrup from the female flowers. This is then processed to
make candy called Myanmar Chocolate, and drinks.
took another optional tour in the afternoon which took us to a 14
story observation tower (the only building in Bagan that is higher
than 2 stories.) It gave us some breathtaking 360 degree views of
the pagoda studded plains as the sun began to set.
there we visited a nearby village which has maintained the traditional
rural Burmese way of life. The people were herding their cows and
goats back from the fields to their homes which was quite a sight.
dinner and show was included in the optional tour. It featured classical
Burmese dances, music and a marionette show. It was very well done
with very colorful costumes.
We really enjoyed our time in Bagan. It was nice to be out of a
big city and into a more rural area. And the scenery with pagodas
everywhere was amazing.
To view more photos from our trip to Bagan, please go to Bagan
Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to
Locations Visited Photos Map