Bagan (Pagan), Myanmar Week 152 February 25th - 26th 2014
A bit of food shopping in Mandalay, then off to Bagan.
But not before the restaurant equivalent of painting by numbers.

Eating by pictures.

We splurged on a $6 each meal.

Myanmar is described as one of the least developed countries. A result of years of military dictatorship.

There are certainly inequalities visible to us, but we think we will have to revisit what is meant by "developed".

Just to the left of the pagoda are .... ?
We expected jungle.

Instead we found an arid looking landscape with Acacia trees.

A milestone.

No, really.

304 miles and 7 furlongs.

There's often a clue to the value of things in whether they are picked up when fallen.

We think a bag of rice dropped off the back of the truck.

It is all being swept up.

Arid, accacia.
Railway is narrow gauge.

Track needs a bit of maintenance.

Others have seen steam as well as diesel locos. We haven't been so lucky with the steam.

The dry river beds are cultivated.

A well in the foreground.

Many tolls.

We argue a bit about whether we are "class 2" or "class 4".

At this toll booth the true complexity of the calculation was on display.

No wonder we have to queue.

We are approaching Bagan.

Pagan was founded in the 9th century by the Mranma who entered Burma from the north.

In the late 10th century the city state had grown sufficiently to dominate the area which is now central Myanmar.

We entered Old Bagan through the eastern gate in the old wall.
Our destination is the car park of one of the up-market hotels in Old Bagan.

With a restaurant view across the Irrawaddy.

And a setting sun to add atmosphere.
The Irrawaddy is a major north south highway.
Next to our car park a temple.
We set forth on e-bikes.

If you can imagine an area of 104 km2 with 10,000 temples and stupas you can imagine Pagan.

Its earthquake prone so only some remain standing, and only some of those are safe.

Bells seem to be frequent.

The temples and stupas (pagodas) are of brick construction.

Not quite a domed roof but certainly arched.

This is Shwe-Gu-Gyi. Also called Nan-U-Phaya.

Built in 1131.

Stupas are closed constructions with a relic at their core. Temples are open constructions to be entered for worship.

In this area some temples have four entrances (like this one), others only one.

Inside, an image of Buddha.
And carefully carved doors to protect.
The area is described as an archeological park but seemingly little archeology has been carried out.

Instead, some not so careful renovation, with a cynical view of attracting tourists.

Thus, the area has been denied world heritage status.

Having climbed to the roof of the temple we gazed on this scene for ages.


And chuckled at this one.
Our e-bikes, which, perhaps due to the steering geometry, are a tad wobbly, carried us through the eastern Tha-Ra-Ba Gate that we entered yesterday.

To either side is the remains of the moat.

More recent shrines either side of the gate, and bowls of fruit plus water as offerings.
The gate is described as the only part of the wall remaining.

We walked along it for about 100m.

The kingdom fell into decline around 1275. Firstly because of the activities of Kublai Khan as he sought to extend his Yuan dynasty Empire southwards onto the plain of the Irrawaddy. Secondly because so much land had been granted for religious use, free of taxes, that there was insufficient left to support the state.

The smaller temples, usually with just single entrance, seem to be in clusters.

The origin of the design is southern India.

Brickwork not quite up to the standard of Manchester!
The entrance to the Htilo-Minlo Temple.

Built in 1218.

In contrast to Angkor Wat, which is really not that far away, these builders with bricks knew how to construct arches.
There are four Buddhas in this temple.

One facing each entrance.

Remnants of murals.

Patterns on the roof arches here.

Imagery on the walls.
And friezes in between.
The temple was damaged in the 1975 earthquake and repairs continue.

No hod for this young lady, carry the bricks on head.

Right now I couldn't lift that many.

The shape is of course very reminiscent of Indian temples.
A quick detour through a laqueur ware factory.

Bamboo forms the base.

Gradually filled with laquer until smooth.
A new meaning to "applied by hand".

There was a faint, but not overwhelming, smell of solvent.

The cutting of lines and application of yellow paint occurs later.
A small, well ventilated, factory
These seem to be used when demonstrations are provided to tour parties.
And so to Shwe Zigon Zedi.

The major attractions are designed to have tourists run the gauntlet of souvenir stalls.

A golden stupa.

Three terraces.

The steps are steep (as at Angkor) and also closed.

We are a tad exhausted, the temperature is low 30's and humidity high.

Hot in the sun.

We retire to rest in the midday heat, and maybe venture to the Archeological Museum later.

Most people go to the bar for a glass of something.

Ali took two buckets.

We filled up with about 6 bucket fulls.

Have you any idea how easy it is to loose count of these things.

The "herbacious border" next to our truck is Lantana.

Complete with butterflies.

Just a suggestion as to why Australian Agriculture is so strict on cleaning. Lantana takes over in Aus.

A bit of packing up before the morning.
And we took our e-bikes back whence they came.
Towards Inle (Inlay), Myanmar Week 152 February 27th 2014

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