Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Boat to Beautiful Bagan

The boat ride down the Ayarwaddy river to Bagan took all day - a very leisurely pursuit (Mark Twain would have approved), alternating between napping in the cool of the breeze downstairs, replacing lost sweat with beer in the cafe and waving at splashing kids as the boat cruised past them. We also got to see 3 teams lining up for a dragon boat race - but we missed the race :(

When we arrived at our hotel in Bagan we rewarded ourselves with a dip in the pool with a beer - to refresh and revive before attempting to hit up as many of the 3000 pagodas in Bagan as possible. 

Bagan used to be a UNESCO site - justifiably, it's gobsmacking! However the Myanmar government was not willing to stick to UNESCO guidelines/rules on preserving and restoring the often crumbling pagodas. A lot of pagodas are covered in electrical wires tacked up willy nilly and have been 'restored' using concrete completely unsympathetically, so UNESCO removed the designation.

A few temples we saw had the hallmarks of good restoration - the UNESCO lead teams did some good work, but even then they didn't get to finish their work as the government only gave them 9 month visas.... My good friend T would be raging!!

Next day temple mania commenced and we managed to visit 10 temples with our guide, so many pagodas, so little time! We must have seen at least 30 Buddhas also - so thats why most of the pictures included are montages!

After a brief siesta in the heat of the day - we were back out to see some more - at the last one of the day (where we waited in vain for sunset) lots of cheeky kids saw us (& our wallets) coming and raced up the temple after us. There were 15 of us up the pagoda and about 10 touts - only space for about 20 people max so the kids were practically hanging off the brick work!

The following day 4 of us took electric bikes out to tour the temples ourselves - Alison was a speed freak, soon a speck on the horizon! We all had minor mishaps - accidentally hitting the accelerator when parking Alison managed to run both me and Howard over, Charlie lost control of the very heavy bike walking it down a slope, hit the accelerator and got dragged a metre - the result was gravel rash :(

Stephen on his sporty little number - apparently it's red not pink....

The basic rules of the road were to hoot if you wanted to overtake and to give way to things bigger than you or VIP motorcades! It was very hot out in the sun so we had to stop in the afternoon for a cooling pool beer or two... See a theme developing?! The local beers Myanmar and Mandalay were very tasty!

We didn't actually see the pagoda that was mentioned on this sign - not sure if that's a good or bad thing! 

That evening we met up with the majority of the group to get dinner out of New Bagan where we'd been staying and then had a temples at night tour on the way back - I was glad the power cut didn't last so we could see them!

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