Buddhist Temples, Benevolent People, and Boat Rides in Beautiful Bagan
Day 1 in Bagan: October 5, 2012
After being in Yangon and its surrounds, Mark and I took the night bus to Bagan. Bagan is a city in Burma known for having more than 3,000 remains of its ancient Buddhist temples. We’d seen stunning pictures, but no picture could compare to the vast amount of beautiful temples it offered all in one place.
Our first glimpse of one of the many temples at 4:00 am
We arrived at 4:00 am hopped in a jalopy and headed down dark and bumpy dirt roads to Kaday Aung Hotel http://www.kadayaunghotel.com/ in New Bagan. The staff was extremely friendly and set us up in a superior room ($45USD) upon arrival. We slept until around 8 am and got up for a complimentary breakfast in the outdoor dining room. Mark cracked me up by going barefoot and saying, “Whop, whop, whop, whop an, Panyaden style.” (Panyaden is the school where we work in Chiang Mai. Throughout the day neither teachers nor students wear shoes in the classrooms, and usually not outdoors either. It’s healthier for the feet.)
This was our view from the superior room porch. Lovely!
After our leisurely breakfast we got maps and information from the hotel staff, rented mountain bikes that looked sturdy, but we soon found were not strong enough for the bumpy roads, and were off to see the temples.
At our first temple we stopped and also shopped.
There were hundreds of intricate hand painted fabrics.
As usual there were English signs almost correctly written, but still were a bit off.
Friendly people everywhere.
We rode on and passed hundreds of stupas like this. Babies weren’t always present.
Inside the temples we kept seeing this guy.
Much like in Thailand, in Burma the day of the week you were born is culturally significant. Each day of the week is associated with different symbolism, in Burma, it’s an animal. In this temple you make an offering to your animal, and then switch on a light.
Monday, my day of birth, was represented by a tiger.
Other days of the week were singha and elephant.
More shopping. Our philosophy was to share the wealth and buy from many different vendors.
We were looking in this woman’s shop as the heat of the midday was beating down.
She mixed up some thanaka paste with the thanaka root…
…and applied it to my face in leaf patterns.
It did make me cooler. She was happy I liked it and gave me some paste. I bought some shirts from her too. She didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Burmese, but we understood each other. People everywhere were delightful.
We then headed down to the river for lunch where I met these new friends.
Mark and I were offered to take a cruise out on the river. It was inexpensive, would give us a unique perspective on the temples, and would be much cooler than cycling.
Our boat driver on our deafeningly loud boat.
Temple views from the river
Doing laundry at the river
Bathing and staying cool
Life on the river
It’s hard to see from this picture the dozens of temples in view.
Our way back to shore
I adored this gentle child.
I bought some handmade postcards from her? him? I wasn’t sure.
Heading back to our hotel we passed a few hundred more temples.
After day one it was confirmed: we love Bagan!