THE PAGODAS OF BAGAN
Bagan. What an incredible place. The word ‘incredible’ gets thrown around a lot in the modern playing field that is the world of blogging. But the word ‘incredible’ can and should be aptly and liberally applied when nominating superlatives for this amazing region in one of the most distinct locations in South East Asia.
In our travels we have rarely been somewhere where such rich ancient history of a former empire is within reach and so easily experienced first hand. Without photos it would be so hard to describe. If you could think Tomb Raider, The Mummy and Indiana Jones and then flip that image on its head and throw in some of the friendliest, genuine, gentle and humble humans on the planet, you may be close to something like the incredible city of Bagan.
WHAT WE DID
So much! First up we flew into Bagan early in the morning direct from Myanmar’s largest city Yangon (formerly Rangoon) and were greeted by Oliver, our amazing tour guide from One Stop Myanmar. This is probably a good moment to pump up Oliver’s tyres. Throughout our time in Bagan, Oliver was simply an absolute pleasure to have with us.
He was such a genuinely friendly guy who went out of his way to help us understand the inner workings of Myanmar culture whenever he could. Through his efforts and personal studies of the language, Oliver spoke great English and he loved bouncing English idioms and phrases off us all times of the day and night! We can say with all honesty that we regard Oliver as our good friend and would love to have him visit us in our home country of Australia in the near future. We even exchanged some sneaky parting gifts as lasting mementos of our time together!
Our tour was run through One Stop Myanmar who we would highly recommend for anyone going to Myanmar. They are affordable, really organized, with great, flexible tour guides who really care about their clients. To book a tour through them, visit their website: https://onestopmyanmar.com
Our first pagoda we explored was the Shwe-zigon Pagoda, one of the first pagodas built in the country and would later become the prototype for later Myanmar pagoda’s.
The Ananda Temple was an example of the intricate genius of earlier Myanmar architecture. Containing over 1200 statues of Buddha in various positions, each with a spiritual message, the temple’s cornerstone is a large statue of Buddha who’s expression actually changes from serious to smiling, depending on the perspective of his viewer.
Kyan-Sit-Tha U-Min is an ancient monk’s quarters. Centuries ago, the monks would live for months on end in their caves surrounded by detailed mural wall paintings, meditating as Buddha did before them. Because we had the greatest tour guide ever, we even got to go into one and continue this tradition with some meditation of our own in the darkness of the caves.
They really love their sunsets in in Myanmar and for good reason. The beautiful combination of over 2000 pagodas, temples and stupas, scattered amongst an ancient city, silhouetted against the backdrop of a warm south east Asian sunset is one of the truly amazing sights on this earth. We were lucky enough to go to the Dhamma-Yangyi Temple for a sunset in Bagan.
After a scrumptious breakfast at the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort, we cruised around the many pagodas in Bagan on E-bikes, which are essentially battery charged scooters. Oliver organized these for us, delivered them in deluxe style to our accommodation and led the way on our own personalised tour through the roads of this unique city.
We met young Myanmar kids, hung out with the goat lady and her goats, worked our leg muscles climbing up and down pagodas and were even acquainted with a Myanmar snake! It was such a memorable and special day that we will never forget.
Another highlight of Bagan was our ride on a horse and cart through the back roads and villages. As we rode through these small communes, having the privilege of seeing how the beautiful people of this country live their lives, little local kids would come out and say a friendly ‘Maingalarpar’ (hello in Myanmar) to the two Aussies on a horse and cart!
This really is not all we did in Bagan, these are simply just some of the many highlights of our time here – watch this space for upcoming blog posts exploring more of our other incredible (there’s that word again) experiences in majestic Bagan.
CAPTURED AMONGST THE PAGODA’S
Are you thinking of going to Myanmar? Have questions? Ask us in the comments section below.
Have you been to Myanmar? We would love to hear your travel stories also!