Old Bagan & Leg Power

Trip Start Dec 28, 2011
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
New Wave Guesthouse

Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay,
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Old Bagan's Walls
I had some of Bagan's famous sites on my must-visit radar but had absolutely no idea of the scale of the Bagan's archaeological sites. With a classic bicycle with a front basket as my mode of transport, I set out exploring Old Bagan with an Indiana Jones' kind of spirit. Hti-Lominlo and Upalithein were easy to locate, just along the way to Old Bagan. Entered Old Bagan for Shwegugyi and That Byin Nyu temple which were both quite impressive. The Old Bagan city walls were not distinctively visible as I ventured out of Old Bagan to Yadana-Man-Aung before I headed back for Bagan Archaeological Museum.

Crush all Dissent
To be truly consistent with the policy of minimum financial support to the government, I should not have visited the museum. Unfortunately I needed the historical information about Bagan and what other ways than to visit its museum? Perplexing... And it was also a calculated risk, judging from the pompous architecture that do not really house much information. Its awkwardly gignormous hall was vastly empty, save for some statues and majority of the exhibits were repetitive Buddha images. Only 20% of the exhibits were considered useful to any travellers - information about the Burmese Kingdoms, their languages, the various ruling periods and vernacular architecture. As in any dictatorship government, in their archaeological museums, you would find a section of their technological achievements (that single scaled model of a fertilizer factory) and their national mottos (one of them "Crush all Dissent against the National Cause!").

Went out to view Bupaya at the jetty and then headed back to Ananda Temple before cycling back and forth for the big 4 sights outside of Old Bagan - Shwesandaw Paya, Dhammayangyi Pahto, Buledi and Sulemani Pahto. All of them incredibly majestic and grand. Shwesandaw Paya was the choice of all package tourists for the million dollar sunset photo site. They came in busloads - Chinese, Koreans, Italians, Germans - all elderly aunties and uncles. They were all there. It was quite predictable really. Today was an overcast so not much of a sunset anyway.

Private Sunset Spot
I headed to Dhammayangyi Pahto to check out a secret passageway for a private sunset spot and found it. It was a tiny space and the stairs up was treacherous to navigate in the dark but it offered a sunset view for one. The poster view of Bagan's pagodas can be taken on Shwesandaw Paya and to some extents - Buledi. Despite the long cycling distances under the sun, I think Bagan is a must-visit for anyone interested in ancient pagodas and is definitely an adventurous place to explore with a map.

Heading back to Nyaung U via Anawratha Road and dined at this Indian restaurant (A Little Bit of Bagan) which really was average and pricey. On route back to New Wave was dangerous with no street lighting and some crazy  tour buses muscling their ways around in the dark.
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