Blogs from Bagan, Mandalay Region, Burma, Asia - page 7

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Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan April 6th 2010

While on approach to Bagan airport I was really hoping for a preview of two mornings hence, when I was planning on taking a hot air balloon ride of the temples of Bagan, but alas we came in from the wrong direction and we touched down just as the sunset. This meant that by the time we arrived at the hotel (the bags took longer to get offloaded than it did to fly down from Mandalay) it was pitch black and so we went to sleep without a chance to see any of the sites. It turned out to be Max and MJ's 40th wedding anniversary and we helped them celebrate with barbecue and far too many beers. As a side note here, the Burmese are into strong beers. The normal strength beers are 5% alcohol, ... read more
Random temple
Lacquerwork
Market

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan April 5th 2010

And so on to Bagan. While it may not be appropriate to compare it directly with sites such as Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, it certainly is up in that realm, with some 2,500 pagodas, temples, stupas and shrines spread over a mere 40 sq km area. These were all built during a 200 year period from around AD 1050 to 1250, and while neglect, looting, earthquakes, erosion and bat dung have all taken their toll through the years, over half of the originals still stand, and the crumbling nature of them is half the appeal, along with the sheer number of them in this concentrated area. Bordering the area is the famed Irrawaddy River, along which many visitors cruise from Mandalay, which is exactly what I did 36 years ago, and what particularly attracted me ... read more
Myinkaba Pagoda
The obligatory sunset shot!
Bagan Panorama

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan March 17th 2010

Dear Friends, Although we are in Thailand already, we still owe you with our final entry on Myanmar. So here you go! Wonderland After our lengthy budget cruise we got back safe to Mandalay. There we only spent one day this time, which passed in lazyness but socially. We met 2 fellow travellers in the guesthouse, Marcel from Germany and Tim from Australia. Both nice guys, Tim is on the way to become a Buddhist monk so we had interesting discussions about religion, spirituality and the likes. Next day Marcel joined us on the bus to Bagan, which is "the tourist destination" in Myanmar. You would think that the road between Mandalay and Bagan is pretty OK, knowing the big flow of tourists and locals on this stretch every day, but no. The worst ride in ... read more
Take a photo of me please!
Golden glittery
"Tanaka girls"

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan February 10th 2010

People often ask me, “You're an idiot. You shouldn't travel to Burma”. An interesting question (?) and not the easiest to answer, I'll admit. The headlines will tell you that Burma is a dangerous place and that by visiting you are legitimising the repressive regime. I'll attempt to answer both these points later in the essay. Er, blog, I meant blog, of course. I'm also going to continue calling it Burma, not Myanmar. Just doing my bit for international relations, World peace and all that. Had I leapfrogged Burma and flown directly to Thailand, I would have left a gaping gap in my otherwise terrestrial route. Besides, I couldn't figure out how to create a non-contiguous line on my Google Map tracker, which was reason alone to cycle through Burma. Getting permission to travel was easy ... read more
Read and learn
Monks helping fix the bike
Eclipse through camera film

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan January 6th 2010

Salut ! Notre arrivee tard a Bagan nous laisse entrevoir quelques uns des milliers de temples parsemes dans la plaine, certains etant eclaires et ca nous donne envie de voir tout ca au plus vite. Notre premier jour sur place se transforme vite en veritable marathon ayant pour but : en voir le plus possible ! La zone d'interet s'etend sur quelques kilometres meme si les temples continuent d'abonder pedant plusieurs autres aux alentours. Notre guide de voyage nous en conseille plusieurs, les plus vieux, les plus sacres, les plus beaux... on note tout ca sur la carte et on se lance a velo sur les routes. On a tot fait de se retrouver avec un guide personnel a qui on indique bien qu'on a pas d'argent pour lui, mais il insiste que c'est pas important ... read more
Champ de temple
Un petit vendeur
Exemple de peintures originales a l'interieur de certains temples

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Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan December 2nd 2009

Sunrise in Bagan is even more beautiful than sunset (if that is possible). We woke up at 5:45am today and made our way to the nearby Mi Nyein Gon temple. Aung Shwe had recommended this temple for sunrise. It was perfect, as his suggestions always seem to be. The views of the sun rising over the mountains and the valley, with the temples poking up out of the morning mist, were magnificent. After breakfast, we switched on the TV and were surprised to find President Obama giving a speech about his decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan. In Yangon we noted that CNN and BBC are available via satellite tv but we wondered if the government censored the broadcasts. President Obama's speech proceeded normally enough for about 10 minutes and then suddenly the screen froze ... read more
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Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan December 1st 2009

We have secret information about the state of the world in 2010 - and we'll be happy to share it with you. The Nats told us. Buddhism is the official religion of Burma but it coexists peacefully with ancient animistic beliefs that have been part of local culture for thousands of years (worshiping nature, like hills, trees, lakes). The Nats (spirits) are at the center of this animist worship. There are 37 "official" nats but, in reality, many more exist and are worshiped by the Burmese people. Nat altars and statues are tucked away in corners of nearly every Buddhist temple that we've seen here in Burma. In fact, most Burmese homes are incomplete without one small altar dedicated to Buddha and a second one for the Nats (which are typically represented by coconuts with little ... read more
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Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan November 30th 2009

Today was one of our favorite days of the entire trip. We'll begin with a story: A long time ago in a far away land (the area then known as Bamar), a king named Anawratha was visited by a monk. This monk was sent by King Manuha, who ruled the neighboring Mon kingdom (also a part of Burma today). The monk's mission was to introduce King Anawratha to Theravada Buddhism (one of the two main schools of Buddhism, the other is Mahayana). The king was intrigued. The Bamar kingdom supported several religions at that time, including Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism and the usual animist (worship of nature) religions. However, King Anawratha was very progressive and open to new ideas. The monk must have done a bang up job because King Manuha not only adopted Theravada Buddhism for ... read more
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Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan November 11th 2009

Myanmar transport authorities have been taking lessons in providing customer comforts - from the Spanish Inquisition (or some other torture specialists of similar ilk), I am convinced of it. Thankfully, it was but a short ride to Bagan. 12 hours squeezed into a mini bus, knees around my ears (due to a design fault in the engine positioning that only a man could have thought a wise idea) and no cushioning in the seat, was quite sufficient to ensure a certain empathy on my part for your average tinned sardine. As ever however, I was made incredibly welcome and baby sat the entire journey by my traveling compatriots. I may not find these journeys comfortable but heart warming they most certainly are, the small children who happily chase the bus for miles if you wave and ... read more
My first Bagan temple
View from temple roof
Ladies carrying their wares

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan November 4th 2009

Bagan....30th October 2009 We had a bit of an adventure leaving Mandalay. The taxi we paid $13 for turned out to be a shared taxi which should have been half that price! That wasn't too much of a problem but the taxi driver left us alone in the taxi for 20 mins while he went somewhere (turned out he was collecting the 3rd person we were sharing with). Now the problem was that we had 35 mins to make a 60min journey to the airport! He drove like an absolute maniac but to be fair, we got there with minutes to spare but we seriously thought he would kill someone, probably us! Anyway the plane trip to Bagan took all of 25mins, just time for a glass of water and down again. Quick taxi ride ... read more
Full Moon Parade
The Children's parade
Our friends at the  restaurant




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