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Biking Bagan

Being sick was no motivation to see sunrise so we just slept in and grabbed breakfast at the hotel. We managed to check out of our first hotel without issue and walked down to the new place that we'd scouted yesterday, Shwe Na Di. We found out that there were even cheaper rooms for only $15 a night which we jumped on. They had some great drying space for our clothes and a fan. The $20 ensuite wasn't available until later. For lunch, we went next door for salad, one tomato, one chicken, with some Max Plus orange, which was essentially a sneaky Coke product trying to look unique. The salads both had more sauce than the ones we'd tried in Hpa An.

Eventually we worked up the energy to go biking. My stomach was still acting up. We worked our way down Anawratha road to see the large Ananda Temple that was undergoing restoration work. They had whitewashed some of the exterior walls in some areas so it looked more modern. Dark streaks were on many of the lighter, gray temples. The round top also gleamed as if it were recently painted or plated in metal. A few workers chipped away at plaster in the tall door arches to reveal more frescos.


Ananda Temple was built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha. Legend says that eight monks came begging for alms. They told the king that they'd lived in the Nandmula Cave in the Himalayas. Interested, the king invited them to his palace. Through their meditative powers, they showed the king the mythical landscape of where they'd travelled. The king was overwhelmed and desired to build a temple that would be cool even in the plains. To keep the style of the temple unique, the king had the architects executed.


Inside the temple there were four standing gold Buddha statues made of teak. Each statue faced in a different direction and they were incredibly tall. Looking up at the tall ceilings and cement walls, we spotted many old frescos of patterns and Buddhas. We walked around to see the golden wall enclaves housing many small Buddha statues. There were other gold depictions of Buddhist scenes and dancers. Wandering around was interesting to find the deserted sections that almost felt abandoned.


Outside the architecture was quite pretty with multiple archways leading into a long corridor. Animal statues sat outside.


Next we arrived at a gray temple with a golden roof which sat up higher and was visible from a distance. It was That Byin Nyu Temple built in the 11th century. We also visited some of the surrounding smaller temples which were more relaxed.


We found Old Bagan, a town which the government had forced citizens out of a few decades ago. The archaeological museum was there but given the price tag and reputation, we decided there were more than enough free temples to entertain us for days. The grounds did look quite snazzy though.


We made it to Bupaya with a white and gold gourd shaped pagoda and a nice view of the Ayeyarwady river. More Burmese people were here praying and taking photos. This pagoda was reputably one of the oldest in the area dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century, although it was also argued that it could have been built in the 9th or 11th. The original fell into the river after the 1975 earthquake then was rebuilt, so dating it is no longer possible.


Legend has it that the pagoda was built after a young man Pyusawti defeated one of the five menaces plaguing the city of Bagan, the gourd vine plant. The king was so pleased he gave one of his daughters and marriage and erected on the spot. Pyusawti later became king. We relaxed in the shade since I was having a hard time standing for too long without stomach pains.

We also checked out Gaw Dav Palin temple with several cute dogs sitting out front.

Our next stop, the palace site, turned out to be an archeological dig of the area. They'd found brick walls and remnants of clay pots underground. Several sites had pits open to the public, just a bit fenced off. A parade of dogs came by afterward as we rested on the benches. The bothersome aspect of the site was the garbage that people had just thrown in these historic areas. We left soon after as my stomach wouldn't tolerate being out any more.


After a rest and feeling slightly better, we ventured more into town past a volleyball game and May Khalar, our previous guesthouse. The area had some newer buildings and some I remembered from last time, like the bike rental shop and restaurant, had evolved or disappeared. New banks had sprung up too. We ate at the wood fire pizza place. Ryan had some sweet and sour pork and I had jasmine tea and a papaya pancake that was surprisingly filling.

Posted by Sarah.M 07:31 Archived in Myanmar Tagged temples bagan ananda_temple that_byin_nyu_temple ayeyarwady bupaya may_khalar gaw_dav_palin

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