Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bagan - First Day

I guess it's high time for me to continue with my Myanmar write-up after leaving it unattended for almost 5 months! Looking back at those photos really bring up amazing memories I had in the awesome country and it has almost been a year already! Before my trip to Myanmar even a real deal, I always plan to include Bagan into the itinerary. I remembered seeing photos of this ancient city on the Internet, normally taken around sunrise, with morning mist clouding the temples and ruins, giving off a mystical atmosphere. It prompt me to want to capture the scenery myself. And I was not disappoint when I was there.

I took the night bus from Yangon to Bagan on the first day of my arrival in the country. Together with a fellow Taiwanese backpacker, Boris, we reached the ancient city around 3 a.m., eyes barely opened, shivering like crazy. It is cold season in December but I underestimated the coldness as my hoodie barely enough to shed me some warm. No visible streetlights and the 'bus terminal' is nothing but a row of shops in the middle of a road, all closed. Disoriented and without a map, it was not a good situation to be in.

Our driver that brought us to the hotel and around Bagan

Luckily for us, there are horse carts and motorcycles waiting for potential customers and we hired a horse cart to bring us to a budget hotel. We found one in about 10 minutes, Hotel Eden, a simple and decent one with its double room costing about US$ 30 per night. We settled ourselves down and called it a night.

Friendly Burmese going through their days

After 4 hours of rest, we began the day cruising the many temples and fallen ruins in Bagan. I find it the best way to get yourself familiarise with the place is to hire a horse cart on the first day only to continue exploring with bicycle the following days and that was what we did. We hired the same driver that brought us to the hotel for the whole day at a reasonable price of 20,000 kyat (about US$24) for the whole cart.

Shwezigon Pagoda

The temple at the background being Htilominlo Pagoda

The driver brought us to many pagodas, some of them are the famous ones in Bagan that should not be missed such as Shwezigon Pagoda (similar to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon in design and structure), Ananda Pagoda (Bagan's holiest and most important temple), Htilominlo Pagoda (one of the many built by King Htilominlo), Thatbyinnyu Pagoda (the tallest temple in Bagan - 61 metres), and many more. There are also temples we visited which names are not known to us. In fact, some of them are nameless or simply known as temple number so-and-so. The abundance of these holy monuments in Bagan is simply astounding that a mere 2 days is not enough to visit them all.

Buffet lunch with Burmese food at Golden Myanmar 2 Restaurant

Atop an nameless temple, overlooking the surrounding monuments

To end the day, we went to Shwe-leik-too Pagoda for sunset. As the sun slowly descents into the horizon, we just sat on top of the temple, absorbing the stunning view and doing nothing else. Watching the sky turning into a myriad of colours is a wonder itself.

Ananda Pagoda, the holiest of them all

Sunset view


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