Sunday, March 10, 2013

Burma -- Golden Paradise, Part 2: Bagan

We took a night bus to Bagan. Bagan is where the ancient temples are. And when I say Bagan, I mean the "Bagan Archeological Zone," which is actually three towns. The area is 26-square-miles, where it is believed the Burmese kings commissioned more than 4,000 temples.  The temples date between the 11th and 13th centuries, although some have been rebuilt (not necessarily based on the original) because this is a living worship sight and people still come to pray to Buddha (that sentence was in government speak, if you couldn't tell).  

We slept in Nyaung U. When our bus arrived at 4 a.m. we dropped our bags at our guest house and then walked to Buledi stupa and watched the sunrise. It was amazing to watch as temple after temple revealed itself through the sunlight. Nyaung U is a fairly peaceful town and we enjoyed sitting at cafes eating more Burmese salads (adding Lemon, PennyWort, and Bean sauce to the list -- we were working our way through all the salads) and watching the world go by during the heat of the day.  

We rented bikes our second day and biked from Nyang U to Old Bagan and then to New Bagan. The government moved an entire village from the ruins to New Bagan in the 70's, which is why there are now two towns. And we watched the sunset from a little unknown temple near our hotel the first night and from Buledi our second night. Sunset is definitely more stunning, but I would recommend sunrise when you arrive (especially if you arrive in the dark) because that is such a beautiful way to be introduced to the spectacle before you. 
 

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This is how a lot of tourists get around (horse and buggies), but the horses just looked too skinny for us...

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We stopped at a fancy restaurant for drinks next to the "river." The highlight was seeing my laundry on the edge of the "river" drying.

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My bike in Bagan -- also worth noting that this is the best bike I had all trip.

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These frescos are called Jatakas, or stories of Buddha's past lives, which is a common theme for temples.

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The wood piled up here is what people are using to paint their faces -- they pound it down into a paste on marble/rock slabs. It is like sandalwood, but apparently not actually sandalwood.

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There is a hot air balloon company that does trips over the temples. Unfortunately, it is slightly cost prohibitive.


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