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Monday, February 16, 2015

MY LIFETIME JOURNEY TO ONE OF WORLD'S GREATEST ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES

 
 
In Mar 2013, I went to Yangon ,Myanmar for work related business. I end up extended my trip to another state of Myanmar called Bagan. Bagan located in central of Burma or current name Myanmar. To my excitement, Bagan is one of the world's greatest archeological sites, a sight to rival Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat for the time being at least. This is the richest archeological site in Southeast Asia with more than 13,000 temples once stood and there are some 2,200 monuments still standing and some 2,000 in ruins. This place once know of glorious capital of the First Myanmar Empire, is now 42 square km area dotted with thousands of ancient pagodas, stupas , shrines, ordination halls and monuments.

When I arrived at this place, I was so mesmerized with the landscape and feel 'aw' in the 'Lost World Kingdom'. At the end of my journey, I was overdosed with temples, pagodas and stupas.

HOW TO GET TO BAGAN , MYANMAR?
 
Yangon Domestic Airport

By Air
It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to fly from Yangon to Bagan. There are daily flights to Bagan from Yangon and also regular flights from another city ,Mandalay which take only 20 minutes. You can check out few domestic airlines in Myanmar to get to Bagan or Nyaung U Airport. The Air Ticket from Yangon will cost around USD65 or more. Myself took Yangon Airways for my trip. There are other reputable domestic airlines which you can try such as AirMandalay , Myanma Airways and Air Bagan (I am not sure whether you dare to take this since their plane crashed at HEHO airport in year 2012 which left one killed and few injured passenger.

Be mentally prepared to take small plane and it will stop at few places before reach to destination Nyaung Oo Airport, Bagan. I remembered the plane I took was YANGON - NAYPITHAW - HEHO - MANDALAY - BAGAN. They may said it is 1 hour and 20 minutes journey but to me it was more than that. I remember took 1:30pm flight and reached Nyaung U at almost evening time. The sun is setting down.

If you are more adventurous type and don't mind to spend hours of journey. You can opt to take train or by bus or boat. Of course it will be cheaper cost but it will be a painstaking journey that you will remember entire life.

By Train - 7 hours
By Bus - if you leave with afternoon bus then you will reach Bagan in the next morning.
By Boat - 14 to 17 hours

 
Nyaung Oo Airport, Bagan
If you see the 4th photo bottom right, that was how the Nyaung U , Airport people handle all your luggage. There will be lining of people dragging your luggage down from the plane. They will asking for tips to release your luggage. They tried that to me but I was so firm on not giving out anything and reached out to the driver I hired in advance for help.

ENTERING BAGAN

You have to pass through a ticket booth where you need to present passport to purchase a USD10 ticket valid for your entire stay. These passes are needed for accommodation and hostels during check in. They will take down the ticket number.

From Nyaung Oo Airport to New Bagan will take you around 15 - 20 minutes by car.

WHERE TO STAY IN BAGAN?

Bagan Thande Hotel
I chose to stay at Bagan Thande Hotel which located Old Bagan City. To my liking this Hotel is located overlooking the Ayeyawaddy River and ancient pagodas. This place is beautifully surrounds with birds' sanctuary and wild flowers garden.

I really hate to sleep in twin bed room since I was traveling alone. The eerie feelings like somebody is watching me sleeping from other bed. Other than the bed arrangement, I have no complaint. I love the peace and greenery surrounding of this place.

WHERE TO VISIT IN BAGAN?


Do your homework before travel to this place. Reason? You will not be able to visit all thousands of pagodas right? By end of the day you will be spoil and had enough of pagodas and temple visits. I was there for only 2 nights. I chose the most famous pagodas to visit.

Some of the famous pagodas with some great history behind the existence are :


Impressive view point for photo shoot at Ananda Temple (really proud of this beautiful shot I took)
The Ananda Temple completed in AD 1091 by King Kyanzitta. This temples known as the 'Mother of All Temples' in Bagan. The uniqueness of this temple , it was designed as a square with four large vestibules entering symmetrically from each side forming a perfect Greek. There are 4 inches deep in the temple facing the four cardinal compass points and each containing a single 31 foot tall standing Buddha status representing the four previous Buddha's. Synonym with its title the 'Mother of all temples ' this place is rich with all arts, architecture, glazed plaque, woodcarving, terra cotta and many other stone sculptures.

I could say this temple is a fusion of Mon and India architectural. It was clear that there is strong influence of Indian Architecture here. Ananda Temple is an Indian Temple built in Myanmar. According to my guide there is another similar one call Anantha cave temple in Udayagiri hills in Orissa , India.

Inside Ananda Temple

Surrounding Ananda Temple


Shwezigon Pagoda

Shwezigon Pagoda
Shwezigon Pagoda look fabulous under the bright moonlight. From 5 terraces the golden shaped stuppa providing lovely view illuminated landmark at night. The build of this pagoda started by King Anawratha but completed by his son , King Kyansittha and this is the biggest and the most important pagoda in Myanmar. It enshrined Buddha's tooth, collarbone and frontlet bone.

This place are glazed stone plaques on which scenes from 550 Jatakas (Buddha's birth stories) are depicted. The color of glaze is mostly green.

Htilo Minlo Temple

Htilo Minlo Temple
Htilo Minlo Temple was built in A.D 1218 by King who has three names, Zeya Theinkha, Nan Taung Mya Min and Htilo Minlo Min. Legend, I was told King Narapati had five sons. He wanted Zeya Theinkha to be his sucessor. However, he still need to play fair to all his sons. He used white umbrella which is on of the royal regalia to choose the deserving son. Fortunately the white umbrella iclined towards Zeya Theinkha and he was name as Crown Prince. When Zeya Theinkha became King he built this Pagoda and onteh stie of the white umbrella inclined toward him.Htilo Minlo means the King favoured by the white umbrella and the father King.

The architecture of this temple is quite unique since it was built with no iron or wooden beam to buttress. They were built of bricks and cement only. There glazed sandstone tiles of green and yellow colour decorated the structure. If you read glazing requires high temperature. Only skilled technicians can produces such decorative art .

Dhammayan Gyi Temple

Dhammayan Gyi Temple - inside

Dhammayan Gyi Temple - surrounding
I felt the goosebumps rose to my neck ,when I arrived at Dhammayan Gyi Temple. I asked my tour guide, why this temple look gloomy and full of dark secrets. He was so surprise with my question and asked whether I have read about this temple before hand? My answer was no, and I am not prepared to visit this one. I told him it was my six sense feelings. He told me my sense was indeed , right! This temple is full of dark history.

Dhammayan Gyi Temple was built by King Narathu in A.D. 1170. This cave in temple resemble Egyption Pyramid Shape from a distance view.

It was said that King Narathu built it in A.D.1170 and fin-ished it in 3 years. The king reigned only 3 years. Viewed from a distance its shape is like an Egyption pyramid. King Narathu was known committed many political killings which included killing his old father Alaung Sithu, his elder brother Min Shin Saw and his Queen Pe-Thida.

King Narathu built Dhammayan Gyi temple and became repent and feeling remorse to his own brutal crimes, he concealed off the inner corridors, windows and light wells so as to rescind his sins.

I was told the construction of this Temple was so details. Every brick -laying walling ans spanning concealed without hole in between King Narathu will chopped off the hand of worker who lay off the brick with needle can insert in between of the bricks.


climbed the stiff staircase on Pagoda to view the sunset. Be prepared to have you face swept by big 'ass'. lol

 I can spend few days talking about Temples and Pagodas ,I visited with full of excitement. But if I did, then some of you may never return to my website since I bored you to death!

SUNRISE AND SUNSET VIEW
Other activities you can do here in Bagan is to view the sunset and also sunrise. I went for sunset view but skip the sunrise. I was planning to take the hot air balloon for sunrise but it was an adhoc trip so I unable to get in since this activity require early booking and it depends to the weather too. I wish I could do this 45 minutes flights on hot air balloon to view the sunrise with fabulous view of mountains, temples and rural village life.

BOATING
You can also try the cruise along the famous Ayeyarwaddy river. This will be an awesome experience too.

TRANSPORTATION TO GO AROUND BAGAN
Temple site is too big to explore by foot. For those who are hunger for more adventure to explore more can rent bike. Most hotels offer bicycle for rent. Since I am a solo woman traveler so I hire a driver with sedan car with air cond. Hahahaha...talking about adventure in style!

Most driver speak English. My driver told me he learn English by watching BBC News and practice. He bought his old sedan car for USD25,000 through hard earned money as farmer. He learn and upgrading his knowledge in history of Bagan and each temples and pagoda to ensure he can explain it well to his visitors. I really 'salute' his perseverance striving to improve his family living condition from poor farmer to a decent one.

Other transportation you can opt to is Horse Cart. But since Bagan is always dry and it will be very dusty to ride on Horse Cart to travel around.


MOUNT POPA
Since I took evening flight on my last day in Bagan, so I told my Driver to bring me visit Mount Popa. On the way to Mount Popa , he stop me at one of Village Industries to see the coconut candies, Sesame seeds, groundnuts and delicious local snacks produce.







The Drive told me the Mt Popa is said to be the core of an extinct volcano with the height of 1500 meter above sea. This place is well know as the oasis of the central Myanmar dry zone. Mt Popa is also well known with its powerful Nats (Spirit) and also place for major pilgrim destinations.

I was told my driver , I need to walk up to the shrines on top of that hill which I wisely skip since I don't have whole day compete with the locals since its weekend. He end up brings me to Mt Popa Resort which own by one of Myanmar Tycoon. I have my peaceful time adoring the natural surrounding and best view and have my lunch which apparently my dinner too. 

I would suggest to overnight here at Mt Popa because this place is tastefully constructed with lushes  greenery natural surrounding.


 WHAT TO EAT?

 
Food in Myanmar is oily for me

visit 'The Moon' famous vegetarian cafe in Bagan

Food at The Moon is awesome and I recommend to try Papaya Salad, Avocado Guacamole and Authentic Pumpkin Ginger soup

TIPS 


- Bring plenty of cash. US Dollars can be used and exchanged but as the local currency (kyat) has appreciated so it has become more attractive to local businesses.
- This one is really IMPORTANT : make sure your US Dollar notes as pristine and crisps as possible. They would not hesitate reject you Dollar even your side unable to find the wrong of your dollar. They are damn choosy too. So make sure as new as possible! No bend note too.
- Only exchange money in shops and hotels only.
- Take proper care of your luggage or you end up in the tug war situation with the potters
- Be firm and update your knowledge with currency exchange or you end up getting cheat.
- Dress conservatively since you will be visiting many temples, pagodas and shrines
- Wear proper shoes that easily to take off when visit those holy places. 
- Bring shoe bag too. Don't risk yourself to come out from one of those pagodas,temples or shrines and find your shoes are missing.
- Some temples don't accept women to enter
- Not advisable to drink tap water
- Don't shake hand with monks and nun. As respectful gesture it is appropriate to offer a small bow.
- Bring hat for hot sun head covers. 
- Pamper yourself with lots of sunscreen.
- Enjoy yourself


I visited many Temples and Pagados in my 3 days journey to Bagan. For some people it may be a meaningless same old place. For me, I love the history and stories for each sites. I was mesmerized with the brilliant architecture and engineering during the ancient times. I wonder how they manage to do the accurate measure with limited advance technologies like we have in this modern days. I wish to visit there again and spend more days and also visit to another interesting city call Mandalay and HEHO.

Do you find my write up interesting?

Drop me a comment to motivate me for more such write up!


19 comments:

  1. oh I am quite impress that you travel to this country alone where woman's safety might be an issue
    very long write up hehe takes me some time to read it
    there was once upon a time I write like you with a very long story write up
    but then you will notice that some of your readers might skip it
    so my sincere advice is you can separate it into a few topics- Myanmar stay, Myanmar dining, Myanmar visit and etc
    which also help to increase your blog traffic
    MY-Emily

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Emily, thank you for your tips. I am glad to receive such comment for future improvement.

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  3. wow ,,, i hope i can be there someday ...hehe

    #visit me on shukranzahari.blogspot.com
    #happy blogging

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  4. Really long write rina. Nice trip, i hope can di so with my small helper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yvon! this write up suppose to be the long one. lol

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  5. Altho I've travelled to many places in the world during my 7 yrs as a Cabin Crew, I've yet to visit Myanmar. It's certainly in my must-go list :D

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  6. Omigosh...this place is gorgeous. I wish I was more of a traveling person, but this katak is so glued to her home ..lol

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  7. Simply amazing! Myanmar seems like a good country to visit but my next destination is not there :P

    waiyee.blogspot.com

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  8. I'm so jealous now. Thanks for sharing these photos.

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  9. You are so brave don't let the potter handle ur luggage :)

    Kolin zainal

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  10. Gosh... I would love to go to Yangon someday too... It is on my to go list.. Lots of tips here.. Thanks for sharing..

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  11. Your photos are way too awesome! makes me want to go on an adventure!

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  12. your photos make me miss travel! I love nature so much it was really fun travelling!

    xoxo,
    Sharon
    www.snowman1314.com

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  13. Solo adventure! Not every women out there are as brave as u! I won't dare travel alone, but u have guts! I've never been to Myanmar btw, good to know of the tips hehe ^^

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  14. I wish i can Go to such a place too, I love historical sites and learning about the history of the land

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  15. Woah! You're living my dream here woman! I'm impressed that you would travel to Myanmar alone. It's rare to see a Malaysian doing so in a foreign country, much less a country that is rumoured to be dangerous. Salute!

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  16. Looks like a nice place to go to get away from the city. I would love to see the 'behind the scenes' of the local snacks! Loll

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  17. Myanmar, the land with great historical cultural experience. I would love to solo travel once in my life!

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