Disclaimer: Since Flickr is banned by the Myanmar government, I have to use this router browser to bypass the controls. Unfortunately, although this means I can upload photos, I cannot view or format them. So if this entry is missing any photos or if the photos don’t look as nice, I promise I will fix it once I get unrestricted internet access.
If Yangon is the gateway, then Bagan is the heart of Myanmar. It has been consistently referred as one of the the 3 greats of Southeast Asia, the other two being Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Borobudur/Prambanan in Indonesia. And compared to those other two sites, what Bagan lacks in the grandeur of its individual temples it makes up for with the sheer volume of structures that fill the horizon.
Which is why its appropriate to nickname this place the “Manhattan of temples.”
The stickler in me wants to also point out that it’s really not all temples; there’s countless pagodas and stupas as well, the difference among these terms being:
- Temples – you can enter it and you can climb it.
- Stupas – you cannot enter it and you cannot climb it
- Pagodas – you can enter it, but you cannot climb it.
There’s over 2,000 of these structures (it used to be 4,000 before all the earthquakes) so it’s impossible to see each and every one of them. Not that you would want to, because after exploring about 6 of them you’ll start getting the idea that there’s not much of a difference inside; each of them has a Buddha, some steps to climb, and a tout trying to sell you a painting. That said, on the outside each temple /pagoda/stupa is constructed a little bit differently, giving each a unique character if you view it from a raised platform (i.e. on top of a temple or climeable pagoda).
The other great thing about having over 2,000 temples is that It’s possible to find a deserted temple/stupa/pagoda and claim it all to yourself for a day without being found by anyone (just don’t die in one, because nobody will find out for awhile and that would suck).
Finally, out of respect you must take off all footwear before entering anything (even when climbing to the top of temples). By the end of the day, your feet will have experienced so much pain from walking on hot sun-baked stone, you feel like you’ll be ready to join the circus and dance on hot coal first thing in the morning.
So I hope this entry looks okay despite the Myanmar government ban on Flickr. I’ll polish it up once I gain unrestricted internet access, but in the meantime, enjoy what you can.
I’m also currently writing up my next entry on almost getting struck by lightning (it struck a pagoda 10 meters above my head) on the top of Mandalay Hill. Not a fun experience; let’s just say I experienced temporary hearing loss and a burned right foot. Would you consider me lucky or unlucky?
– At time of posting in Mandalay, it was 93.2 °F – Humidity: 67% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: scattered clouds