Saturday 12 October 2013


A very cheezball article on wikivoyage likened visiting the ancient ruins of Bagan to a Spanish tapas meal – lots of little treats all in close succession.  I suppose anything wikified is prone to such crap poetic editorial content. But yeah, okay - it’s true that there’s definitely plenty of little treats of pagodas and stupas of all shapes, sizes, conditions and colours to explore in the 40 square kms or so of the plains.  Over 2000, actually!  It feels like we walked, climbed, crawled, poked around and buzzed past a pretty good percentage of those, but I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface.

But saying that, it’s interesting how so many of the larger pagodas haven’t just had their surfaces scratched, but rather have been fully modernised with neon flashing lights for halos over the Buddhas and reinforced concrete additions tacked on as decorations or whole new sections.  I suppose it’s no different to how an old European cathedral from the 11th century might be kitted out with all mod cons and centuries of alterations too.  They’re public buildings in actual use – which is cool.

Bagan in a day involved hiring electric bikes- the coolest mode of transport ever! I really enjoyed zipping along the roads, feeling the breeze on my face and finding and then exploring various stupas and temples. The most fun part was the off roading to the less visited temples. Most of the roads were sandy and bumpy and a little tricky to navigate. Particularly hard to navigate when you have a flat back tyre! It was only after a local girl told me that I had one that I realised. The locals in the village kindly pumped up my tyre and then told us we should go straight back to our hotel! I wasn’t too impressed when Ty told me the road back to the part of Bagan where we were staying was super sandy and had quite a few trenches. 

As we navigated back the sun was setting and we were awe struck when we saw the sky blazing behind one of the temples, it was stunning! The bike was veering all over the place and after making it to the main road, another local tried to help us by using a hand pump on the bike. This didn’t help, and Ty who was now riding my bike managed to get it to a place where we could safely stop. I stayed with the bike whilst he rode the good bike back to inform the shop. I waited and waited and waited, and as I waited a Japanese man pulled up at the same place with the same problem! Eventually one of the shop owners came to get me to give me a new bike and said I could ride back. The trouble with that was that I had no map to navigate and had no idea how to get back. He didn’t speak any English, but eventually someone else came by motorbike to guide me back to the hotel! It was a very fun but eventful day. 

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