Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan – Exploring thousands of Pagodas and temples with bicycle

Bagan temple fields are really a highlight – over 2000 temples and pagodas – built in only 250 years starting approx. 1000 years ago…

We have chosen to get spoilt and to stay in a very nice hotel (Blue Bird in New Bagan) and to take our time to explore the 40 km2 by bicycle (no Mountainbike, just a local bike without gears – repair stations on the way and definitely needed). Two challenging factors: the temperature (39 degrees in the shade) but with mercyless sun and the unpaved “paths” between the two main roads leading to the hidden gems…

The pagodas and temples used to be painted in white (or with golden tops) with fine decoration. The last couple of hundred years have washed away the outside decoration in most cases – whats left is the red brick stone which is now the dominating color.

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U Bein bridge, Myanmar

Der Karren, der im Dreck steckenblieb / The 3 former royal capitals Sagain, Inwa and Amarapura

Next day we made a tour to Sagain – with a sweaty climb up the Sagain Hill, Inwa – with a „Karren, der im Dreck steckenblieb“  and Amarapura – with an >160 years old and 1,2km long teak wood bridge…

Sagain Hill is spiked with pagodas and temples – countless. The way up (must be more than 1000 steps) was quite a workout – on the top we had a cup of tea in a questionable clean cup (no, there was no side effect) on a terrace with very nice view on shaky sticks… When checking out the temples we found a quite good artist up there as well and we supported the local art scene with a bit of extra revenue.  Also quite interesting in the temple the big rabbit next to the Buddha  – he used to be a rabbit in a former life!

Inwa used to be a capital of the kingdom, but now is a farmer village with some day tourism and not a lot of paved roads.

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Kuthodaw Pagoda, Myanmar

Wet start in Mandalay / 99 Pagodas on the way to Mandalay

99 Pagodas already on the way from the airport in Mandalay to the city center… wow…

After arrival we thought we walk to the first temple and/or pagoda but after half an hour we were so wet (even with rain gear) that we ended up in a café to think about plan B (other than walking or bicycle)…

Next day we got a car to make a not too wet pagoda / temple tour through Mandalay (plus some shopping: umbrella and gold leaf sheets)… We visited a monastery (Shwedandaw), a former part of the emperor palace. As King Mindon passed away in that wooden hall, his son placed it outside the palace walls and due to the bombs in WWII and the fire it is the only remaining piece of the royal palace. Old, dark teak wood with wonderful wood carvings, covered with gold leaves… Beautiful!

Close by the Kuthodaw Pagoda has the text of the Buddhist “bible” (the tipika) carved in > 700 stone plates – for each a little Pagoda built.

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