Rabu, 26 Juni 2013

all the way from Bagan

Our life, mostly, started with a knowledge that God is the creator, who owns human's life. Worshiping God is a common practice from time to time, and it doesn't come from a particular religion (only), but from all religions with their own unique rituals. From my several last journeys to several cities and countries, I encountered Buddhism are everywhere. And Bagan has the most proofs of all, it's a small city with thousands of pagodas in it. It was simply amazing that there are almost more than 2000 pagodas in a small city with only 104 km2 as the city's core, named Old Bagan. New Bagan and Nyaung U are another city nearby (only kilometers away, and can be reached by biking), these two cities are now developing as most of the people started to move out of Old Bagan, since it's already become more of touristic area.

Pagodas are the main attraction in the city. The more you walk, the more you discover. Walk 100 meters, and you'll find another pagoda. It's just like that. You can climb to the pagodas which are accessible to people, and see the skyline of Bagan from the top of it. You might hold your breath, because the beauty is unspeakable. We, then, couldn't stop wondering how on earth they built those thousands pagodas in one small area, why didn't they get enough with several pagodas? Why thousands?

Religious practices are everywhere, people looked more religious in this area. They visit pagoda, just like we visit mall. It's a daily activity, and they pray whenever they could. They gather in the pagoda's yard, sit in a group and sometimes watch the tourist come and go.

Time went slow, and the heat was killing us. Whenever the sign showed to take off our shoes in front of a pagoda, we almost cried. Because our feet were hurt, the tiles that laid outside (most of them were brick) were very hot and we should walk faster --- almost running --- to avoid the pain. But, once we got inside the pagodas, it was very cool, like you wouldn't believe the outside's temperature was almost 40 degrees celcius.

To go around, we rented bikes on our first day and we strolled around using it the whole day. Biking was fun --- and again, the not fun part was the heat, only --- and it was cheaper compare to horse cab. It was easier for us to stop whenever and wherever, since the pagodas were everywhere. Pagodas in Bagan were quite different with those in Thailand or Sri Lanka, most of it were built using brick and exposed the natural color, earthy look. Myanmar's infamous pagoda is Shwedagon Paya, and it's gold in color. Shwedagon is shiny, while (most of) Bagan's pagodas are earthy.

We finished Old Bagan in a day, and we ended the day by climbing the most favorite spot for sunset, Shwesandaw Pagoda. Arriving there, and tourists were everywhere, wearing their sunglasses and sitting looking at the sun. Bathing with late afternoon sunshine, we joined the crowd and waited for the sun to set.

The following day, we decided to take horse cab --- one day with a bike is more than enough for the buttocks, ha! And, for the record 3 hours ride for 18,000 kyats was a pretty good deal. The horse cab driver brought us to another side of Bagan, we went northeast, the same direction that lead us to a village named Minnathu village, where cotton is the main income for the villagers . Surprisingly, this part of Bagan was barely touched. Tourists aren't go here, only a few bikes and horse cabs took the same way as ours. The pagodas were ruined and have not reconstructed accordingly. But, in a way, I like those view better. When we climbed a bit higher, Bagan looked like a dessert with pagodas in same color with its ground. Exotic!

We completed Bagan in two days, not hundred percent complete, but we got what we need, and we have seen what we wanted to see.

Tips from me :
From Yangon to Bagan, if you have extra money, do take plane. But if you have extra time, just take bus, the bus is really worth it.