Horse, Buggy, and the Best Lit Photos of Bagan

Horse, Buggy, and the Best Lit Photos of Bagan

Day 3 in Bagan, Burma: October 7, 2012

This after a few days on dodgy bikes, this was a much more comfortable way to see the temples.

After a few days on dodgy bikes, this was a much more comfortable way to see the temples.

We started the day in the afternoon with an East meets West lunch.

We started the day in the afternoon with an East meets West lunch.

This is a petrol station in Bagan.

This is a petrol station in Bagan.

These clay pots are filled with drinking water that is available to all passersby.

These clay pots are filled with drinking water that is available to all passersby, next to one of my favorite trees, the poinciana.

Just the standard temple, cow, and motorbike view.

Just the standard temple, cow, and motorbike view.

Looks like the clouds are fixin' for a real purdy sunset.

Looks like the clouds are fixin’ for a real purdy sunset.

Uh-oh, it looks like our buggy may have a traffic jam ahead...

Uh-oh, it looks like our buggy may have a traffic jam ahead…

Good time to walk up a temple and let the cows, goats, and herders pass by.

Good time to walk up a temple and let the cows, goats, and herders pass by.

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Then the light started making the temples more photogenic.

Then the light started making the temples more photogenic.

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The complimentary color combination was stunning.

The complimentary color combination was stunning.

Time to climb up the temple and watch the sunset.

Time to climb up the temple and watch the sunset.

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This one is one of my favorites because of the amount of temples visible in the setting sunlight.

This one is one of my favorites because of the amount of temples visible in the setting sunlight. It just doesn’t even look real.

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Bagan, thank you for staying so lovely in a country filled with so much strife.

Bagan, thank you for staying so lovely in a country filled with so much political strife.

Goodbye Kaday Aung Hotel,

Goodbye Kaday Aung Hotel,

Goodbye Bagan. Hope to see you again someday.

Goodbye Bagan. Hope to see you again someday.

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Bumpy Road, Broken Bicycles, and Buddha Images in Bagan

Bumpy Road, Broken Bicycles, and Buddha Images in Bagan

Bagan Day 2: October 6, 2012

Mark and I decided to downgrade our room at Kaday Aung Hotel http://www.kadayaunghotel.com from superior ($45USD) to standard ($30USD), which better suited our budget. After breakfast we exchanged our rickety bikes for what appeared to be much better ones…but they weren’t. Nonetheless, we were ready for a day of cycling around to see temples. There are just so many!

This was a few kilometers down the road and today we were ready to see more of Old Bagan.

This was a few kilometers down the road and today we were ready to see more of Old Bagan.

IMG_3942The first big temple we perused had gigantic Buddhas in all directions of the temple. All similar, yet different.

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Temples temples everywhere!

Temples temples everywhere!

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Buddha imagery was even in the ruins.

Buddhas everywhere too!

Buddha imagery in the ruins

Buddha imagery in the ruins

This is an artist's rendition of Bagan at sunset probably from the viewpoint of a hot air balloon. Mark wanted to go in Balloons Over Bagan, but the season started the day we left Burma, and tickets were sold out months in advance. Oh well, next time.

This is an artist’s rendition of Bagan at sunset probably from the viewpoint of a hot air balloon. Mark wanted to go in Balloons Over Bagan, but the season started the day we left Burma, and tickets were sold out months in advance. Oh well, next time.

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This nice man showed us upstairs to a better view.

This nice man showed us upstairs to a better view.

And a better view it was.

And a better view it was.

Just beware of wasps nests

Just beware of wasps nests…

and Tokay geckos

…and Tokay geckos

More friendly vendors

More friendly vendors who we bought art from.

We then headed for a temple that was one of the most famous in Bagan, kind of like the Shwedagon of Bagan as is evident here.

We then headed for a temple that was one of the most famous in Bagan, kind of like the Shwedagon of Bagan as is evident here.

Temple detail

Temple detail

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Praying nun

Praying nun

Smoking monk

Smoking monk

Maybe it was because we were hungry, thirsty, and sore from cycling over a million bumps, but there was a strange feeling at this temple. I didn’t take pictures of many people, but there were a lot of people begging for money and trying to giving us ‘presents’ we didn’t want so we’d buy something from them. It was the only temple that felt like that, and the sketchiest people we met in Burma outside Yangon. The expression on the face of the monk above gives you an example of the not-so-welcoming atmosphere.

It definitely had unique details

Unique temple details…

...and different perspectives, but it was time to get out of there.

…and different perspectives, but it was time to get out of there.

Little did we know at lunch that day that we'd discover Mandalay Red, a 7% alcohol beer that was very tasty and went down all too well in the heat of the day.

Little did we know at lunch that day that we’d discover Mandalay Red, a 7% alcohol beer that was very tasty and went down all too well in the heat of the day.

After 2 Mandalay Reds, we rode to a temple that supposedly had good sunsets.

After 2 Mandalay Reds, we rode to a temple that supposedly had good sunsets.

Ahh Bagan!

Ahh Bagan!

So beautiful!

So beautiful!

IMG_4025As you can see, it was starting to get dark and we were about a 7 kilometer, bumpy, and traffic filled ride away from our hotel. On my bike, I could only use one pedal. Let the adventure begin!

By the time we got back it was dark, and we were exhausted, but still okay for a refreshing dip in the pool and a couple more Mandalay Reds to send us to an early slumber.

Buddhist Temples, Benevolent People, and Boat Rides in Beautiful Bagan

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

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!

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.

At our first temple we stopped and also shopped.

There were hundreds of intricate hand painted fabrics.

There were hundreds of intricate hand painted fabrics.

As usual there were English signs almost correctly written, but still were a bit off.

As usual there were English signs almost correctly written, but still were a bit off.

Friendly people everywhere.

Friendly people everywhere.

We rode on and passed hundreds of stupas like this.

We rode on and passed hundreds of stupas like this. Babies weren’t always present.

Inside the temples we kept seeing this guy.

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.

Monday, my day of birth, was represented by a tiger.

Other days of the week were singha and elephant.

Other days of the week were singha and elephant.

More shopping. Our philosophy was to share the wealth and buy from many different vendors.

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.

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...

She mixed up some thanaka paste with the thanaka root…

...and applied it to my face in leaf patterns.

…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. She didn't speak English and I don't speak Burmese, but we understood each other. People everywhere were delightful.

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.

We then headed down to the river for lunch where I met these new friends.

So cute!

So cute!

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.

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

Our boat driver on our deafeningly loud boat.

Temple views from the river

Temple views from the river

Bathing and doing laundry at the river

Doing laundry at the river

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Bathing and staying cool

Bathing and staying cool

Life on the river

Life on the river

It's hard to see from this picture the dozens of temples in view.

It’s hard to see from this picture the dozens of temples in view.

Our way back to shore

Our way back to shore

I adored this gentle child.

I adored this gentle child.

I bought some handmade postcards form her? him? I wasn't sure.

I bought some handmade postcards from her? him? I wasn’t sure.

Heading back to our hotel we passed a few hundred more temples.

Heading back to our hotel we passed a few hundred more temples.

After day one it was confirmed: we love Bagan!

After day one it was confirmed: we love Bagan!