Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma. From the 9C to the 13C the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar.
|Mya Thida Guest House|
Arriving in Bagan we were met by the friend of our guide in Mandalay, taking us directly to our guest house 'Mya Thida', having paid our 15 USD tourist fee to enter Bagan. The first sign that Bagan was going to be more touristy. Having settled into our room, we walked into the centre of 'New Bagan', for a meal. A bustling place due to the area being a very popular tourist region, evident by the number of restaurants there were here, great places to people watch, tourists and locals and watch the world go by. We selected 'Silver House' which met exceptions from our Lonely Planet Guide.
The next day Christmas Eve we had a very busy day with our guide exploring the 'Bagan Archaeological Zone' A temple packed day, the most amazing place it is no wonder that tourists from all over the world are now visiting this region. This was evident in the sheer numbers of people that were present on the terraces of the Shwesandaw Pagoda which provide an excellent viewpoint to watch the sunset from. A spectacular sight it is no surprise it attracts so many people, the place was swarming with people vying for places to take photos from! Luckily our guide got us there early enough to establish a good viewpoint. A Christmas Eve sunset I will never forget!
On Christmas Day our guide and his cousin drove us up into the hills to Mt Popa about 30 miles from Bagan and due to the condition of the local roads about a 90 minute drive. The main purpose of this half day trip was to visit the Nat Temple of Popa Taung Kalat. The Monastery is built on the top of the mountain at 1518 mt( 4981 feet),this period is also a holiday time in Myanmar with schools closed for ten days, it was particularly busy with many locals making the pilgrimage up to the temple. It took us a good twenty minutes to ascend the 777 steps up to the top, fortunately Ng Ng, agreed to accompany us. This made it more interesting as he was able to explain things and knew the easiest way to navigate ourselves around the vast complex especially as it was so busy. I did manage to get a few photos of the monkeys etc, despite the crowds, and of the view from the top.
On the way back to Bagan we stopped at a typical Myanmar restaurant for locals, I doubt many tourists stop here, certainly not foreigners! We were definitely a novelty but accepted as we had a local with us, Certainly the most bizarre Christmas Day lunch I have ever eaten, with no idea of what it actually was either, not particularly tasty but edible. A different and interesting experience.
|Christmas Day Lunch!|
Spent the latter part of the afternoon chilling out on our terrace back at the Guest House before Ng Ng, returned to take us out to another sunset viewing location in the Archaeological Zone, Pyathada Paya, another stunning unforgettable sunset. Although I have to say I will also remember the antics of the many tourist buses, trying to navigate around the temple area!
Christmas was indeed a very different experience and I made new memories to cherish. We could easily have spent much longer in Bagan, but it was time to move on and discover more of this stunning country.
I hope you have enjoyed my words and photos about this still relatively unspoilt destination. Although the tourists are discovering Bagan and hawkers are present at the more popular temples, there are only a handful that are regularly visited. There is still much to offer the intrepid tourist in Bagan, with time to explore.
An amazing place and an experience that is difficult to put into words. This video I found on this Website will give you a great impression.
If you are interested in reading my earlier posts about Our Myanmar Trip here are the links.
With thanks to the following sites for some of the background information included in my Myanmar posts. The links will take you directly to the official websites if you are interested in learning more about the country. I also used my Insight Guide to Myanmar for reference.
All photos are my own taken in December 2013 unless otherwise mentioned.
More photos can be found on Flickr in My Album entitled Bagan