Saturday, May 26, 2012

Myanmar / Thailand Trip Recap (4)

Day 4 and 5 - Bagan

Early morning, we left Yangon and flew to Bagan and spent the next 2 nights there.  Bagan is famous for it's temples and known to be Myanmar's Angkor Wat.  If you are into history, culture, and architecture, this is heaven on earth.  The locals here are also very friendly... it almost seems like everybody knows everybody.

Tip:  There is FREE internet at the airport (fastest in Myanmar in my opinion) so remember to turn on your wi-fi.  I guess that's one of the reasons why they charge USD10 per tourist at the airport...  at least you get something in return...

During our time in Bagan, we climbed the 777-steps to Mount Popa, visited countless temples, rode the horse cart and chatted with the driver all day, witnessed the buzzing Nyaung-U market, enjoyed the sunset on one of the temples and by the Irrawaddy river, watched the local lacquerware craftsman create their wares, got scared by the native lizards and screamed out of my lungs, and literally bathe myself in sunscreen and mosquito repellents... some of the temples names have already blurred in my mind, I know I will forever remember how beautiful Bagan was and wished I had more time to learn about it's amazing history...

There are so many beautiful stories to share... even words and pictures could only tell you so much... For the full experience, you have to be there.  I guess that's one of the reasons why people love to travel so much.  There's goes the saying "if you don't travel, you only read but a page of the book..."  Even I do travel often, I still feel like I have but a glimpse of a chapter...

they are sweeping the roads for travelers
our guide said they do it for free and consider it as a donation to Buddha
there is no big machinery here, most of the work is done by cattle
rest area 
worker gathering palm juice
fresh palm juice - so sweet and refreshing!
free juice, tea, and snacks for travelers
the owners won't ask you but you are encouraged to leave a small fee 
the infamous natural gas pipeline to China through Myanmar
this is a gas station!!!
gas is ~USD5 a gallon and the US people who made 10x more are complaining about gas price in the USA...
Mt. Popa - to climb to the top, you will have to walk 777 steps
... might as well be called Mt. Monkeys

volunteers cleaning after the monkey for donation
view from Mt Popa
grinding for divine remedy
traditional Bagan food for lunch
non-peak season pricing at the hotel we stayed
peak season prices can easily double and you might not even get a room
pool @ hotel
tourist friendly
Dhammayangyi Paya

I really don't understand how this place is not yet UNESCO certified...
I mean look at this place!!!
Thanks for the volunteer who light up the stairs with candles for the travelers everyday...
one of the many Buddha statues
Sight-seeing Bagan in a horse-cart
Alms for monks - you only see them early morning

@Ngaung Oo Market
stalls selling areca - I'd called it the "poor man's tobacco"
it stains your teeth and makes the addicts spit out red mucus - just gross! 
"flirting" with the friendly kid at the market :) 
buzzing market
what would happen if the Mt. Popa monkeys found out about this place...

Yum~  I think they are sucking nectar from flowers
this little guy followed us the whole time we were at Shwe Zigon wanting to ask for some small notes from my cousin.
Not only did he not get anything from us, he dropped 50 kyats and my cousin picked it up and taunt him XD  (of course we gave it back in the end but we didn't give him anything extra... only a banana as snack... we told him to learn to speak fluent English and Chinese and ask from us again next time!) 
cracking peanuts
no helmet, no problem
not smiling anymore 
stern face - all of which is a architecture trick!  Amazing!!
Anada Temple

Nap time
Run, run, run!
the creative minds see value in all things...
donated rice

damaged by treasure hunter
the different stages of making a lacquerware, takes 6 months minimum
the 3rd generation owner of the lacquerware shop 
Sunset by the Irrawaddy river
puppet show at the Nanda restaurant
more than enough for 2+
tasty fried chicken, good with beer
kitty finishing off any chicken remains
little guy enjoying his moment of freedom when mom and dad busy updating their FB status... XD
the magic draw of free wifi!

In the end, I didn't ride on a hot air balloon and see Bagan from an aerial view nor I saw the perfect sunset.  Nevertheless, it's still an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  In fact, I always believe that it's the imperfections in life that is always the most memorable.

Tip:  Hot air balloons are only available during the cool season as the winds during the other seasons are unpredictable and the locals there took safety very seriously and will not risk anyone's lives.


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