Monday, December 7, 2015

Bagan, Myanmar

When we were planning our trip, we considered taking the bus to travel from Yagon to Bagan, but eventually we settled on flying. The hour flight was indeed very convenient —it sure beats a day-long bus ride.

We arrived in Bagan on November 13. Every tourist there is renting electric scooters, so we did the same. Renting one is only 7000 kyat / $5.50 per day! Surprisingly you don't have to fill out any waiver or do any ride tests. You just pay and they send you off with the scooter.

Bagan is known for its many pagodas. I think we were most marked by Shwesandaw because it is one of the few with stairs that can be climbed, and we happened to be there right at sunset when the view is magnificent. It was crowded with people:

So many people jostling to snap a shot of the sunset.

We also enjoyed the Ananda Temple:

The inside of the temple is really spacious.

Meditating monk collecting donations.

Burmese people are really fans of multicolor LEDs in their pagodas and temples —used here to decorate a Buddha statue.

On the outside of the temple.

We visited the Bagan Archeological Museum, built in 1998 for a cost of 1200 million kyat. The kyat was not trading freely due to tight currency controls from the Central Bank of Myanmar at that time, but according to the black market rate of 375 kyat per dollar, this would have made it worth $3.2 million, which is pretty cheap for such a beautiful gigantic 3-level ornate building with marble everywhere :) Too bad pictures were not allowed inside.

Bagan is also known for its lacquerware shops. We visited one, and saw women working on some of the products:

We randomly stumbled upon a group of dancers dancing to modern pop music blasting from speakers mounted on a truck. It was an incredibly hot day. You can see makeup running down their faces because of sweat. At the end of their dance, they would climb on the truck, drive 2 or 3 blocks, get off the truck and repeat their performance. We didn't figure out what this performance was for.

We saw many other pagodas and religious sites, too numerous to list here.

Bupaya Pagoda.

Shwezigon Pagoda.

Lauren bought a small gold leaf and put it on the Shwezigon Pagoda —a ritual performed by many visitors.

Dhammayangyi Temple —the largest of all temples in Bagan.

In front of Dhammayangyi Temple.

Sulamani Temple.

Gates of Sulamani Temple.

One day we were riding on our scooter from temple to temple on dirt paths. When crossing the village of Minnanthu, we stopped a few seconds to look at directions, and a woman came to see if we needed help. Then she offered us a guided visit of her village, and we accepted. We went inside some of the houses, saw farming and textile equipment, old women who she said every inhabitant of the village called "grandma" making cigars, etc.

Making (and smoking!) cigars.

Our visit of Bagan concluded with a visit to Mount Popa, well, technically Taung Kalat, which is the name of a rocky summit on top of which a monastery has been built:

Many monkeys at the base of the mountain.

Temple at the top of the mountain.

Great views all around. Mount Popa is the peak visible in the distance.

Next stop: Inle Lake, Myanmar!

1 comment:

  1. Wow beautiful pagodas and temples... Also the Sulamani temple gates look like iron lace. It seems so delicate and fragile for what it supposed to be some gates... Beautiful!