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Published: December 30th 2017
photographed over the wall as there were several tourist groups in the way from other spots
After some extra sleep following another early wake up (I was up 5 till 7) I debated whether to aim for Old Bagan, a couple of hours pedalling, or just hang about the hotel till the sunset boat. Win, the taxi driver who took me to see sunrise, was outside. We’d agreed to leave at 4:30 to use his friend's boat, now we are going an hour earlier to see the temples in Old Bagan first. Win and the hotel staff have been asking around but we can't find others to share the cost.
About 11 I took the bike just 10 minutes along the main road (less traffic, go figure!). The main temple was Gubyaukgyi with no photos allowed inside. It was damaged in the earthquake last year. There were many people including a tour bus from the river cruise. I looked around and took photos outside but did not join the crowds within.A little way further on was a group of temples beside the road, Gubyaunge from 11th century. The main one further up a track is looked after by a family in the house next door. The lady asked if I'd like to go in,
Group of temples
next to the main road and on the track to Gubyauk Nge
put her flip flops on and brought the key over. She showed me around using a small torch and was happy to have a photo with me. There was more inside than I had imagined, all rather different from others I’ve seen. Only the top of it was damaged so inside the Buddhas and wall paintings were intact. The group of buildings by the road, were numbered rather than named. I saw butterflies and lizards there and spent half hour enjoying the solitude. Inside one I took photos of all 4 Buddhas, one photo showing three of them from the angle I found.
Whilst pushing my bike in the sandy track I saw a bullock cart followed by a lady with her cow and calf. She was happy for me to take photos although beyond smiles, gestures and nods, we could not really communicate. More cattle grazed in the shade of various temple complexes without supervision, I’m not sure whether they would go into the road as they were pretty close to it. I explored a couple more pagodas (numbered) beside the tracks and roads and it was enough for a few hours out on the bike. At least
this one had been charged and the brakes were both working.
At 3.20 Win had his taxi outside and his 2 ½ year old son with him. I couldn't catch his name but he offered his hand to shake mine. It took a while for him to want to sit with me but by evening he was happily next to me or on my lap.
Temples I explored Thatbyinnyu
- by the wall of Old Bagan, Win dropped me at the car park and it was about 200 metres walk up to the temple. There were a few foreigners there so I just walked around the outside and the inside and then exited the same direction. Beside the track was a man sitting on the old wall of the city. He called to me to climb up for a good view and wanted to sell me a sand picture. I already had one from yesterday so thanked him and returned to Win. He and his little boy were enjoying freshly made juice at a stall and offered to buy one for me. Gawdapalin Paya
This pagoda is inside the old city of Bagan. The entire area
The pointed top fell off in the earthquake of Aug 2016
in here has been cleared of the villagers who used to live in it. They created New Bagan around 2005 and relocated all those people. However a lot of them have to come into the city to trade with tourists but their animals are not allowed to feed in that temple area because they live outside it. Maha Bodi
is a Hindu style temple and the people of Myanmar call it Indian. It is quite different to others that I have seen. Inside is just a plain Temple hole with the Buddha and outside they have excavated some of the old buildings at a lower level. A lady invited me to have Thanaka paste on my face. Even though I had this done in Mandalay, I went with her because I wanted to buy a block of paste. She tried to sell me a pack of 12! I gave her 1000 kyat for one which is about 60 pence and the photos of me on the boat show her design. Bupaya
was one of the earliest pagodas to be built in Baglan. It is on the River Ayeyarwady and in 1975 the earthquake caused it to fall completely
graze in the grounds of old temples
into the river, so what is seen now was built from that original model. My purpose of coming down there was to take the river cruise at sunset. I've read about another cruise that takes people sharing a boat but could not find any way of reaching that jetty which was rather further north. Win had arranged for a friend to rent a boat to me for kyat 15,000 about £8. It's the going rate but I was hoping still to find someone who might share the cost. We stopped at cafes where foreigners were having drinks or snacks but none of them wanted to join me. The lad who owns the boat led me down the steps to an area beneath Bupaya. There were row upon row of these boats that would accommodate up to about 30 people, but as we set out and chugged up the river, I noticed the majority had only two or at most 4 people on them, others were single occupants like me.
For nearly a mile up the river there were jetties with boats pulling away carrying tourists into the middle of the river to watch the sun go down. The noise
of motor engines was deafening and I only hoped they would cut them when we were into the middle of the river. They did and a wonderful peace descended. Or we could here as the sun red and and drop down behind some mountains to the west was the lapping of water against the sides of the boat. I was amused to see that my driver took this opportunity to do his washing in a bucket of the back off the boat.
Once the sun was gone my chap asked if I was ready to return. He started up the motor and I was surprised to see we had drifted down with the current, almost parallel to where we left and it took just a few minutes to move into the shore where he pushed his boat in between a couple of others. I was help down by a young girl I thanked everybody and walked back up the steps next to Bupaya to find Win. As we were leaving, a young man flagged us down and asked Win if he could take another couple back to their hotel. That added 10000 to the 15000 I had paid him
for the afternoon; not really enough to feed his family for the day.
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