4/4/2009 – Word of the day – Wow
Another early start to catch a flight to Bagan. It was dark still when we got into the taxi for the long drive to the airport and the only people around were the Monks walking the streets collecting their breakfast and the locals standing outside their homes and shops lit by candlelight ready to give to them. It was a lovely peaceful sight and as we got nearer to the airport the sun came up over the horizon and cast the sky a light orange colour.
The short flight to Bagan and my forward planning at booking a guesthouse meant we arrived in time for breakfast at the New Park Hotel. The rooms were lovely and spacious and had a little porch with chairs out the front. After eating and showering we took a horse-cart for the day to see the sights of Bagan with our guide, Win.
The moment that we left the village of Nyaung U and onto the open road I couldn`t stop myself from saying “Wow” every 5 minutes. The view was incredible and indescribable – I can try, but no words will do this place justice. Across the plains you can see hundreds and hundreds of pagodas and stupas popping up out of the ground like great plants. It was breath-taking.
We spent the day visiting various temples of different shapes and sizes, using the horse-cart as a form of transport. I wasn`t sure if this was cruel to horse and I spent most of the day struggling with my conscience over it.
The first pagoda Win took us to was quiet, with no other tourists or hawkers there. A middle-aged lady showed us around and took us up a dark, narrow staircase which led to the top of the pagoda. From there we could see for miles around, it was a fantastic view. In that moment I felt completely satisfied that I had made the best decision to visit Burma; Bagan alone is worth it.
Some of the temples were truly stunning pieces of art and architecture and wonderful places of worship. Unfortunately at quite a lot of the bigger temples there were rows of hawkers selling a range of art works and souvenirs. It was good in some ways because they would approach you to chat and talk about the temple, so we learnt something from them. But it was also a bit of a hassle as I had no money to spend and I felt bad having to say no so often. Most of the time they were nice enough and were happy to just speak to you.
For sunset we were taken to a quieter pagoda which was crumbling and not restored after the earthquake like the others so no other tourists were there. We arrived early and spent some time chatting to the only hawker there who had some sand paintings. We told him we couldn`t buy but he still sat chatting to us for nearly an hour until a Belgian couple arrived. In the distance, on an unusual square pagoda, dozens of tourists had gathered to view the sunset and I felt quietly smug that we had a better spot to watch the huge red circle cast different shades across the plain.
I really should write more, but it was such an incredible day and words just can’t quite sum it up. I’ll let the photos do the talking.