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    Tropical Heat Tour: Myanmar Part 17

    Sunday, September 9, 2012
    Nyaung-U, Myanmar

    The pyramid-like Buledi temple in Bagan, Myanmar.

    Beasts of burden pull a man in a cart past some temples in Bagan, Myanmar.

    Even though I was still recovering from a cold, I rented a bicycle and headed out on the road to Bagan because it was my last chance, as I was leaving town the next day. The bike was just as bad as the other one I rode two days ago, but at least the seat was a little bit higher. After winding around some dusty backstreets in Nyaung-U, I found myself on Anawrahta, a long, straight, paved road divided by a median that cuts down through part of the temple zone. As I struggled to pedal the slight uphill grade on the poorly-designed bike, I almost passed out in the thick, midday heat. I stopped and shot a few pics of some really nice smaller temples that only had signs written in Burmese, so I’m not sure what they’re called. Another mile or two up the road, I saw some massive temples in the distance to the left, so I pulled off onto a dirt road and headed over there.

    The gigantic Dhammayangyi Pahto temple in Bagan, Myanmar.

    The main Buddha image inside Dhammayangyi Pahto temple in Bagan, Myanmar.

    On the way, I saw a man in a cart being pulled by two beasts of burden–I’m not sure if they were ox or some kind of cattle, but each one had a weird hump on its back. The first temple I visited was called Dhammayangyi Pahto, a gigantic, awe-inspiring walled compound with an interior passageway that proceeds around the whole base illuminated with natural light by numerous doorways to the outside. There were some really persistent hawkers at this place. Next, I pedaled down the dirt road a half mile to Sulamani Pahto, which is widely considered to be one of Bagan’s most attractive temples, built in 1183 AD. It also features several halls festooned with Buddhist-inspired art painted on stucco walls. Right next door was Thabeik Hmauk, which is a smaller Sulamani look-alike. I just shot a pic of it from the road and kept moving.

    Paintings on stucco walls accompany Buddha inside Dhammayangyi Pahto temple in Bagan, Myanmar.

    The gorgeous Sulamani Pahto temple gleams in the setting sun in Bagan, Myanmar.

    At this point, I had to get off the bike, wade through thick mud and walk around some huge puddles on the dirt road. It got so bad, I almost turned back, but I eventually made it around all of the brown slop. My plan was to check out a few of the huge temples in the South Plain, then ride North back up the paved roads to Nyaung-U. On the way South, right before sunset, I stopped at Pyathada Paya, a gigantic temple that looks more like a fort. I snapped a few photos of the front just as the last golden rays of daylight danced upon its gorgeous rust-colored face. At this point, the Eastern sky was completely filled with black clouds. “I hope that storm doesn’t come over this way,” I thought. By the time I walked around back to ask for directions, sure enough, it started to pour. I made a quick change of plans and decided to retrace my path back through the dirt trails to Anawrahta, the paved road that leads back to Nyaung-U.

    Horsecarts wait for scheduled tourists in front of Sulamani Pahto temple in Bagan, Myanmar.

    A picturesque templet sits in the golden light of a perfect Bagan, Myanmar evening.

    The harder I pedaled, the harder it rained. Within a couple of minutes, I was completely soaked from head to toe. I put away my umbrella, put on my hat and concentrated on navigating my way around all of the mud puddles to reach the paved road before dark. After about a mile-and-a-half, the front tire suddenly popped off of the rim. Argh! It was so cliché that would happen. After a short while, as I carried the front of the bike up the dirt road, a man stopped to help fix it. When I took a close look at the tire, I realized it was blown out and unrepairable. He then spent a few minutes stuffing the tube and tire back into the rim so I could at least push the bike back to my hotel. I gave him a little money and we parted ways. Luckily, I was almost at the junction with the paved road. Another man on a horsecart offered to give me a lift back to Nyaung-U, which was about three miles away, for $8.00.

    The massive fort-like Pyathada Paya glows in the setting sunlight in Bagan, Myanmar.

    I tried to talk him down on the price, but he wouldn’t budge, so I started walking North on Anawrahta. After a half mile, a young girl rode up on a bike and chatted me up as we stood in the pouring rain out in the middle of nowhere. A minute later, another man in a horse cart pulled up. He wanted $6.00 to ride me back to Nyaung-U, but I talked him down to $4.00. It was funny that when he and I were haggling the price, the girl also randomly joined in all of the wheeling and dealing. I asked if she and the driver were family, but she said no. After the man tied my bike onto the back of his horse cart, I said goodbye to the girl as we climbed aboard and clip-clopped three miles back through the dark to May Kha Lar guest house, where I did some much-needed clothes washing and convalescing for the remainder of the evening.

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

    One response to “Tropical Heat Tour: Myanmar Part 17”

    1. J.Davis says:

      Sounds enchanting! So far away from modern civilization. That evening will be something to remember, I’m sure.

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