The Magic of Bagan ~ photo essay

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The majestic beauty of Bagan is unsurpassed. It is breathtaking! We were fortunate to experience it under a full moon before dawn, followed by sunrise.

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Early morning at dawn climbing up a bamboo ladder to perch on a pagoda to get a birds eye view of the valley as the sun rises

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As the sun rises, so do the tear drop shaped hot air balloons ~ rising slowly over the horizon. Quite a sight!

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The plains of Bagan offer serenity and beauty as far as the eye can see.

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As day light breaks, thanks in part to jet lag (which works to our advantage here) we make our way through the landscape stopping at stupas and temples.

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This, our first day in Bagan, we awoke early and walked randomly through the fields and valley enjoying our first glimpse of Bagan’s architectural heritage.

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Each temple is different. Some are large and majestic, others are small and simple. Almost all have statues of Buddha which have been repaired to return Bagan to it’s ancestral beauty.

IMG_0497This buddha statue inside one of the temples dons the same ruby red cloth as do many of the monks and monk novices in the region.

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Agricultural fields and ancient temples co mingle.

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Coming upon this scene of the farmer and his cows in front of the pastel colored temples in the early morning, was like walking into a painting.

 

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Peta gets a big hello lick from a cow!

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Our early morning walk through the valley of temples takes us to a market town. Time for breakfast! sourdough pancake with chickpeas.

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Burmese pancakes with a smile. Don’t look like much, but awfully good!

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Little girl sitting outside the pagoda in the market town.

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This golden Buddha is huge and soars up inside the town’s central pagoda.

IMG_0567The Burmese culture reflected in the people of the market, both sellers and buyers. From the headgear to the use of thanaka paste, the longyi (wraparound skirts), the market reflects traditions that have endured for as long as nearby temples.

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Plentiful supply of produce of all types.

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A woman at market spends time carefully selecting a basket full of mini eggplants.

 

 

 

 

 

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Women balancing market goods in baskets on their heads.

 

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A bull, unfazed by the market activity right around him.

 

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We spend our days either walking or electric biking (no motorbikes allowed, which is great as it eliminates  the noise and emissions that would come with regular bikes.) The electric bikes are rather slow, have no pick up, but are perfect for temple hopping. They get returned each night in order to recharge for the next day.

 

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Some of the temples have 4 Buddhas, each one facing a different direction of the compass.

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Happy to be back in Asia, where we thrive as a result of the convergence of aesthetics, good food, artistry and new cultures and Buddhism all around. Great way to start 2016!


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Gold cloaked Buddha inside one of the larger more prominent temples: Ananda Temple.

 

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A secret inside stairway leads us to the roof of a small old monastery. Perfect spot for sunset and meditative moments.

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Once again, “have bike, will travel.” Our favorite mode of transportation. In this case, the electric bike.


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The pool at our lodging, which is right on the edge of the fields, with a panoramic view of temples in the landscape.

 

 

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Internet is a tricky business in Myanmar as its not easy to get online for the most part. A gift as well as a challenge when it comes to things like blogging.

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Food looks simple, but tastes delicious. There is a lot of emphasis and variety of soups: pumpin and ginger soup being a constant. Veggies are left crunchy and its easy to get yummy meals in Myanmar. We had read that Burmese cuisine is a combination of Indian, Thai and Chinese. However, our experience is that it is  a unique taste profile that differs from all three. Fish sauce, noodles, veggies, mutton, crunchy toppings, herbs which all create the Burmese flavor.

 

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One bowl of mutton curry, the rest of the bowls all have veggies: Vegetarian paradise of chickpeas, eggplant, okra and green beans.


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6 days in Bagan: serenity and architectural beauty. A once in a life time experience!

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We spend hours chilling in the languid pace of Bagan.

 

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While sitting next to a small temple, a herd of cattle, including baby ones, pass by in a dusty silent magical moment.

 

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Relaxing on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River.


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Burmese tapas approach to eating: small plates of yumminess, in this case mostly veggies. The pumpkin bottom left is particularly good. Reading “Twlight Over Burma” an autobiography of an Austrian woman who married (unknowingly) a Shan Prince from HIspaw, North of Mandalay. She found out she had married a Burmese prince when their boat arrived to much celebration and festivity, which unbeknownst to her, was for him and his new bride.

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Plenty of opportunity and time to stretch, create space in mind and body.

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Burmese ‘doughnuts’ ~ the center has coconut and cinnamon. Delicious.

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Sugarcane juice was one of our favorite Vietnamese fruit juices…. We rediscover this forgotten pleasure once again in Myanmar. Super nutritious too!

 

We stumble upon a procession… turns out to be a very special day indeed: a community send off for young boys about to become novices at the local buddhist monastery.

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Young women in brightly colored best longyis lead the procession towards the temple, which will celebrate the start of the young boys becoming novice monks.


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Villagers on the side walk watch the procession go by.

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Young boys in their finest. Proud parents walk alongside the horses, ox and carts, as their children are heading to temple for initiation into monkhood. A week is the minimum amount of time.

IMG_1162This may be my favorite portrait taken on this trip, so far.


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A proud mother shows off her offspring from the ox driven cart, during the procession.

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Some carriages, such as this one are highly decorated for the festive occasion.

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24 thoughts on “The Magic of Bagan ~ photo essay

  1. Gili

    Chickpea pancakes – genius, why didn’t anyone come up with this before?! Love the herd of cows with the temples. They must have made quite a racket!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Pancakes were yummy with a sour dough taste.

      The herd of cows were pretty quiet. We have a video of it as well. Maybe we will post it. Thanks for your comments!

  2. brook skillman

    omg that was such an emotional blog for me! Seeing you two back in Asia, just so right…The FOOD, how in heaven you must have been and the sights…eye candy for days..I am looking at flights right now! THank you for your beautiful posts. (I do prefer these over videos but only because videos take so long for me to download).

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      It really does feel great to be back in Asia!
      The food was really good…very specific tastes and dishes.
      You would just love Bagan of that I have no doubt. What a special magical place.
      Glad you enjoyed the posts!
      Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Leslie

    Thanks for sharing, Peta! I may be headed there in April to celebrate my birthday week off…Looks serene, natural…just what I’m looking for! But maybe 1 week is not enough?Where did you stay in Bagan?

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      It was simply put….amazing!
      One week in Bagan is wonderful. Most people stay just 1-3 days, but we loved being there for a whole week.
      I can try to find the name of where we stayed, as it was perfectly located. Quiet and with a great view towards the temples, pool etc and not too pricey. Comfy too.
      Enjoy and happy birthday in advance fellow fire sign.

  4. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

    From KB:

    Enjoyed the pictures, people and settings. Peace and Serenity with good
    people.

  5. Excitable Ape

    You are a grand photo-star!. The images are lovely, colorful, and evocative, as usual. But are some pics sideways and upside down for a reason? For me it interrupted the flow of the essay. It didn’t significantly diminish my enjoyment…

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you excitable Ape! 🙂

      Nope no reason other than we are having some technical difficulties… Hopefully to be resolved soon. It all began with inferior to almost no internet in Bagan and most of Myanmar. Try loading photos onto a blog when it takes hours for a handful of photos to load. Sigh.

      Glad you enjoyed nonetheless!

  6. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

    From Adrienne J:

    Just beautiful. I love seeing this through your eyes and your artistic photography.

  7. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

    Thanks Adrienne, Nikki and KB. So glad you enjoyed this post in Bagan and we could share this spectacular experience with you. Thanks for the feedback!

  8. tami talo lowenthal

    not too hot not too cold color everywhere- and meaning- glad a friend of a friend of yr sister passing this on- thanks- tami

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Hi Tami, thanks for reading us. Yes,much of Asia is very colorful. In fact last year we flew from India to Turkey and the shock of the loss of color all around us ( what happened to all the saris?) was rather shocking and tough to readjust too. Has anyone else ever noticed that in Istanbul so many people wear jeans and the color black.

  9. carolinehelbig

    Hi Peta, I’m reading all your posts on Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam as Mike and I try and figure out where we are heading in fall. I think we have narrowed it down to this part of the world. We haven’t been to any of these countries (have visited Thailand-1991, Malaysia-1991 and Indonesia-1991, 2010 and loved them all). Unfortunately we only have 3, maybe 4 weeks and we don’t want to rush from place to place. Anyway, I’m looking forward to going through your posts. I’m happy for any recommendations.
    PS: Bagan looks awesome. Photos are great particularly the procession of beautiful young ladies.