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March 14th 2015
Published: June 22nd 2017
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11th century temple11th century temple11th century temple

Here's our shore guide giving us a talk at this temple. If you zoom onto the back wall you can see the remnants of very decorative render or plaster covering the bricks. The temple was circled by vendors' stalls. It reminded me of the gauntlet of vendors at the Piza Tower in Italy.
Geo: 21.1367, 94.8383

The golden age for Myanmar was the Bagan Empire (or Pagan, depending on your source) that flourished around the city of Bagan on the eastern banks of the Ayeyarwady River. This was from 9 -13th C. Apparently there were 5,000+ pagodas in an area of several square miles around the city. A large earthquake in 1975 destroyed many of them but I fear we will still find plenty to visit in our shore excursion today.

In Myanmar, "pagoda" is a generic name for a Buddhist structure. If they are solid then they are called "stupa". If they are hollow buildings (a space you can walk into) then they are called "temples". Perhaps because of construction ease, stupa seem much more impressive and plentiful. Temples are generally smaller and consist of one or just a few rooms.

We had a moment of Internet yesterday as there was a communications tower right beside the boat when we 'docked' for the Tan Kyi Mt visit. Sadly Rob and I were having a "Burmese" (walking) massage when the announcement was made and then we had no time to go online. So I am sinking deeper into internet withdrawal - if we had access today I
That Byin Nyu templeThat Byin Nyu templeThat Byin Nyu temple

At 61m this is the tallest temple in Old Bagan. Apparently the temples were built without any special foundations and the builders kept the height low in relation to the width of the base to aid stability. The building has lasted a thousand years and umpteen earthquakes, so I guess they knew what they were doing.
would forgo the stupas and stay onboard!

Well, it turns out that Bagan temples are very impressive and Bagan is seeking to rival Siem Reap as a destination for viewing thousand year old temples. According to our day sheet there are 2,237 pagodas in the 42 sq miles of Old Bagan. We also visited a lacquerware factory in New Bagan, and climbed a couple of the lesser temples to view the sunset - which was a fizzer because the sun disappeared in the haze and we did not see it actually dip below the horizon. In the evening we watched a Burmese puppet show on our boat's sun deck.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


Lesser templesLesser temples
Lesser temples

Old Bagan is set to become the premier tourist area of Myanmar and land prices in nearby New Bagan have risen astronomically in recent years. We were beset upon by insistent hawkers as we left the boat and they followed us around for much of the day, seeking to wear us down. They were mostly good-natured and charming and it was only towards the end of the day that we lost patience with them.
Lacquerware makingLacquerware making
Lacquerware making

The finest ware has 24 layers of lacquer and pigment. They're all made from bamboo strips that are glued together with lacquer and then etched and coloured.
Demonstration potDemonstration pot
Demonstration pot

This demonstrates a fifteen layer pot, starting with raw bamboo at six o'clock. They also have wares that incorporate horse hair in the construction and these lacquered products remain flexible. China, Japan, Korea and Myanmar have extensive lacquerware factories and Myanmar is seeking to become pre-eminent.
Robyn and JaneRobyn and Jane
Robyn and Jane

The puppets are very intricate and weigh over 3kg each. Burmese puppets are controlled by up to 36 strings, even the eyebrows can move!
Pagodas, pagodas everywhere...Pagodas, pagodas everywhere...
Pagodas, pagodas everywhere...

Two of our group are off to a dawn balloon ride tomorrow to view the pagodas. I hope the skies are clear enough to get a decent view. At a cost of USD375 each, the ride didn't seem to provide value for money. I'm happy with my 4,000 kyat purchase - "Made in Italy" Ray Ban sunnies.

14th March 2015

Thanks for the enlightenment regarding the difference between stupas and temples. You crack me up with your comments about withdrawals, doing a great job with the photos and documentary. So how would you rate a Burmese massage, similar i gu
ess to a Thai massage. I take them to be a gentle race, so deep tissue and a pounding you would not get. It is all sounding too wonderful, though i share your sentiment on time out from any more pagodas - ABC's in Europe and ABP's in Asia! love hearing the history and walking in the footsteps of the earlier civilisation.
14th March 2015

I like the look of these stupas - but can understand that after 2 I would be a little bored. The history of these country sounds fascinating and I am enjoying the entries very much. Luckily they have massage on board the boat because I am
not sure what Sel would get up to without internet for any extended period.

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