04.03.2013 - 04.03.2013 40 °C
Today has been even better than yesterday. Bagan is quickly becoming one of our favourite places we have visited. We woke up this morning sore after the Tour De Bagan yesterday. After breakfast we came back to the room and had no idea what to do. We could hardly walk so there was no way we could rent a bike again. Chelsea then suggested hiring a horse and cart for the afternoon. Liam was unsure at first due to the cost but we are only going to be here once.
We hired the horse and cart from 12pm to after sunset. It cost us 13000 kyat which is about 15 USD. We bought some supplies from the local shop, 2 large bottles of water and some crisps (which Chelsea ate before the horse and cart had even come to pick us up) and relaxed in our guesthouse until noon. We had told the owner of our guesthouse where we wanted to go and he made some suggestions of where is good for sunset and he then told the driver of the horse and cart our plan.
We were very excited to have our own personal horse and cart and were really happy when we finally set off. We cannot remember the name of driver we had but he was really nice, a little quiet and shy which is good for us and he spoke good English. The horse was named Su Su, she was a big mare and was in much better condition than some of the horses that walk around Bagan. She was very obedient and liked to be stroked and scratched on her head.
Riding around Bagan on the horse and cart was really fun and feels like the only mode of transport worthy of such a special place. It is a little bumpy in places but most carts have a big cushion in the cart but it is slow and quiet and it really feels like you have gone back in time. For ninety per cent of the day we were the only people in sight and the atmosphere is unique, dirt roads, barren landscape and thousands of temples.
We went to the opposite side of Bagan today, it is vastly different from where we were yesterday. There is no main road running through the temple complex, it is all dust and sand tracks, We were glad we didn’t cycle because the sand was really deep at some points. The area is very peaceful, apart from the last two temples we saw; we had the whole place to ourselves all days. The temples themselves today have also been better than yesterday. They were in much better condition and most had large wall paintings inside dating back to the 11 and 12 century. Each one we visited became our favourite. We started at Lzagawna temple and then went to a cave monastery a little further on. This was interesting and a site that we didn’t previously know about. We then took a dust track further and went into three adjoining pagodas with lovely and original wall paintings and on to Tayokpyi Paya. This was our favourite temple of the whole place. It is set in a cluster of different temples and Paya’s and we were the only people there. The building was beautiful and the interior and exterior was still intact and was really intricate. Within the same cluster there was also a large white temple that was really different to all the others. Inside had been recently painted and was not to a very good standard but the exterior was really nice and we were shocked to come across a white temple in the midst of all the brick ones.
After a couple of hours riding and viewing temples our driver said we can go for a rest and took us to a tiny village called, Min Nan Thu. It seemed to be a kind of service station that the horse and cart drivers take their customers to get out of the heat of the sun. It was small working village that had a little restaurant at the front. We shared two cold lemonades in the shade and enjoyed the view and people watched. After we had finished our drinks a lady offered to show us the village. We were unsure but she led us around and started to explain and show us how they hand make clothes, peanut oil, cotton and jam, all of which comes from home grown produce. By this point we realised she was going to want some money if we went any further so we said thank you for showing us and walked away. Sure enough the girl still asked us for a present or tip but we said no thank you. It seems to be a common thing here where you will walk into a temple or attraction and a local will just follow you around without you asking and start speaking to you about the temple and then expect to be paid afterwards as a ‘guide’.
After our break we went to Sinbyushin complex. This is an abandoned monastery and as there was no one around it was a little creepy. The ride up to it is beautiful though and lined with trees.
We then went on to our actual favourite temple of the day, Pyathada Pagoda. It was quite a way away from the others, was quite large and no one else was there apart from a couple of local kids selling postcards. The inside was quite typical with large Buddha shrines but what made it special for us was the view. You could climb inside, up some steep stairs to the very top and see for miles over the plains of Bagan. It was stunning and we stayed up there for ages taking photos and sat admiring the view. It was really special and amazing to have it all to ourselves. We imagine at sunset the whole place would be packed but it was silent and peaceful. We didn’t want to leave but we knew we had a couple more stops before sunset. After a while another couple of people came so we got a rare photograph together at the top.
The next two temples were a bit of a disappointment. One was the largest temple in Bagan, Sulamahi Pahto and because of this and only this people flock there in the hundreds. We had to navigate past several coaches just to get the arch entrance. Then we were surrounded by people and locals trying to sell you things from all angles. We had a quick walk around inside, saw that there was actually nothing there and left. The next one, Thabeikhmauk was much nicer but again too many people. We had been spoiled by the peacefulness of the earlier temples. This one however did have amazing original wall paintings inside, basically on every available wall. There was one main section that was protected by metal caging but we could not get a very good look at it due to a large tour group of Germans taking up the whole area. The rest of what we did see though was incredible. There were large paintings of Buddha and people worshipping, elephants, dragons and a large religious scene.
Our next stop was sunset and it was a great way to end the tour. We climbed up Buledi pagoda via its stairs on the outside and from the top had a view over most of the plains. It was beautiful we could see so much more than our sunset yesterday. At first as we were quite early there was only us and a few Russian ladies sat waiting for the sunset but it is obviously a popular spot as loads of people turned up 10 minutes before the main event, but that didn’t detract from us enjoying the sunset. We sat there or way over an hour watching the sun get lower over the silhouettes of the temples until it disappeared behind some mountains on the horizon.
We went straight out form dinner once we had seen the sunset and as we were passing asked to get dropped off at Weatherspoons again. Today we had the Burmese classic, a fish finger sandwich. It was truly awesome. We spoke to the owner Winton, he recognised us from our two previous visits he used to live in England and we think he cooks is favourite English dishes and well as the local food, he was really raving about fish finger sandwiches in England. We are getting our western food fix whilst the options and quality is good, we will soon be back on local delights.