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Published: November 17th 2015
You can walk around, but you can't really go in.
After seven years of living and working in Asia, I've seen a lot of temples. Many say that once you've seen one temple, you've seen them all; there is a lot of similarity between them.
But Bagan was unlike anything I'd ever seen before.
An area of about 42 square km (16 square miles), it's filled with temples. Temples as far as the eye can see in any direction. Approximately 2200 to be more specific.(There used to be many, many more.) As my Dutch friend and I rode through them, exploring one after another, we repeatedly commented on how surreal it felt. Like we were in a magical place we couldn't have imagined. Or like we were in a dream. Or in a movie. Except that we could actually reach out and touch them, feel them beneath our fingers and soles, their smooth and rough edges leaving imprints on our skin and minds.
Our bus arrived from Yangon at 4am. After managing to get a shared taxi into town (with only one stop--we didn't want to pay double the price for two), my friend and I dumped our bags, ate, and headed out to see some temples before
The first of many
it got too hot. We'd been advised to go out early, return by 11am, rest up (and check in!), and then head out again around 4pm. I can say that, without a doubt, this is solid advice. Even at 11am and 4pm I felt like I was going to melt under the hot Burmese sun.
We visited the temples in groups; we divided and conquered. We saw everything we wanted in two days. Any more than that and I think they would have lost their luster. We didn't go to sunrise because we really like sleep and sunrise is always hit or miss. Our attempts at seeing the sunset gave a dismal performance one night and something lovely the second. My third night there it poured--like only a tropical rainstorm can--and people went out to watch that instead... and many needed help getting back. (I had wisely stayed at the hostel that night.)
All of the temples were lovely. All of them had really hot stones and brick to walk on. (Yet another reason to go in the early hours of the day--the stones aren't hot yet!) Between rocks, rough edges, and the heat, my poor feet took
Small, but you can go in.
Note the warm, toasty brick!
a beating. Putting on black flip flops you've accidentally left in the sun after that isn't a good idea either. I don't know how the locals do it.
Bagan is easily one of the most amazing places I've ever been.
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