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    Tropical Heat Tour: Myanmar Part 15

    Friday, September 7, 2012
    Nyaung-U, Myanmar

    Locals relax in the roadside shade in Nyaung-U, Myanmar.

    A small Buddhist temple on the plain in Nyaung-U, Myanmar.

    The corner of Shwegugyi Buddhist temple with another temple visible in the distance in Old Bagan, Myanmar.

    The steep, cave-like stairwell inside Shwegugyi Buddhist temple in Old Bagan, Myanmar.

    I started off the day walking up and down the main road of Nyaung-U trying to find a better bicycle than the one I rented from May Kha Lar yesterday, but surprisingly came up with nothing. I didn’t see any rental shops anywhere, except for one, but the guy said he couldn’t raise up the seat, because there was no quick release. So, I just ended up walking South down the road toward Old Bagan, a town two or three miles away. On the way, I shot a few photos of some really beautiful brick temples, but there weren’t even any signs around, so I’m not sure what they were called. After a mile of getting heat-blasted by the sweltering temperatures, I really started to feel a bout of tropical fatigue coming on. I was hoping a truck would come by that I could just jump on, and when one finally did, I tried to flag it down, but the driver just smiled, waved back and kept going. Argh! After I had walked about a third of the way to Old Bagan, a van pulled up and I haggled with the driver to lower the price to about $1.75 to drive me the rest of the way.

    Mahabodhi Buddhist temple gleams in the sunlight in Old Bagan, Myanmar.

    More magnificent Buddhist temples along the road at sunset in Bagan, Myanmar.

    The driver and horsecart who drove me back to Nyaung-U, Myanmar.

    Finally, he dropped me off amid a field of huge, jaw-dropping structures, and I walked around exploring them. Bagan, on the banks of the Ayeyarwady river, is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world, with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The first one I visited was called Shwegugyi, commissioned by King Alaunsithu in 1131, one of the most intact temples in Bagan that still displays the peak of the area’s glory days. It features a really steep, cave-like staircase leading to an upper level, along with some pretty persistent souvenir sellers. One of these ladies tried to chum up with me, and talked to me incessantly for quite a while, as I dealt with removing my hiking boots and walked around. I told her I didn’t need a guide, but she kept telling me to come to her shop. Finally, when I left a bit later, she pulled me over to her booth, which was full of bowls, statues and other knick-knacks. I wonder how often a tourist buys one of these things out in the middle of nowhere? Probably not very often. Who wants to carry around something like that? I told the lady she should sell water and snacks instead. When I gave her a tiny donation, she and her other vendor friends laughed at me.

    Another Buddhist temple ringed by statues along the road at sunset in Bagan, Myanmar.

    A close-up of statues at another Buddhist temple along the road at sunset in Bagan, Myanmar.

    A nice, big, fluffy pancake for lunch at Swe Tha Har San in Nyaung-U, Myanmar.

    I just walked away over to the next temple, called Mahabodhi, which was built in 1215 and features a tall, intricately carved pyramid-like spire. Another lady followed me around this place, and when she asked me where I was from, I pointed over into the bushes. She was feisty with a good sense of humor and joked around with me for a bit, then tried to sell me a new shirt, because mine was drenched with sweat. At this point, sunset was drawing near, so I climbed onboard a horse cart, the driver of which had been following me around for a little while. He agreed to drive me back to my hotel for about $3.50, which is a pretty steep price for just two or three miles, but it was fun clip-clopping along, and it was nice that he let me jump off a few times to shoot a few quick photos of some more temples that were close to the roadside. I felt kind of bad for the horse, and asked if we should stop to let it rest and drink some water, but he said it was no problem, that the horse can go all day and gets plenty of rest and water every night. As I entered May Kha Lar, I realized I also needed plenty of rest, water and some grub.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

    One response to “Tropical Heat Tour: Myanmar Part 15”

    1. Poison Pie says:

      This sounds like a great day!

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