Dusty enlightenment

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
1
9
32
Trip End Apr 25, 2013


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Where I stayed
may kha lar guesthouse

Flag of Myanmar  ,
Monday, January 21, 2013

The dust in Myanmar is so thick and copious that there's just no point in trying to clean anything. Even the leaves on the trees are covered. The exhaust fumes are so dense that if I ever get lung disease it will be thanks to our South East Asian adventure. It makes me realise how clean the UK is and how lucky we are to breath the Oxfordshire air.

Bagan is no different although the fumes are less owing to the large number of horse drawn carriages which the tourists use to visit the temples. Bagan is an area of central Myanmar covering 26 miles square and simply littered with temples and stupas dating back to the 11th century. We stay in a guesthouse of mediocre shabbiness and take a horsecart out for the day to visit some temples. Temple construction was prolific between the 11th and 13th centuries but came to an abrupt stop when Mongols barged in looting, ransacking and generally exhibiting antisocial behaviour. The Bagan ruler didn't much like this and ran away but the region still maintained its religious importance and to date, over 3300 temples have been discovered and are protected by Myanmar's archaeological zone. The most impressive structure has got to be Ananda Pahto, thought to date back to 1090. On all four sides of the inner central square are 170ft gold buddhas, two original, two new. The Southern Buddha appears smiling from afar but stand underneath him by the collection box and he's frowning. Fullest donation box in the temple there, funny that. We watch the sun go down from the top of a quiet temple and are amazed at how many 'poor' young travelers have digital SLRs with huge telefocal lenses.

A couple of days later, we jump on the back of a local pick up truck (cheapest way to travel) and visit Mount Popa, a premier pilgrimage sight for those wishing to worship the 37 'nat' spirits. Climbing mount Popa to the Buddhist temple at the top involves running the 777 step monkey gauntlet, barefoot. Myanmar superstition says that one should not wear red or black on the mountain or curse. I failed at the latter after treading in monkey s**t.

Thanks to Tripadvisor.com, we found the 'weatherspoons bar' ten minute walk from the guesthouse. Pretty good food for Myanmar and no early morning drunks. They even have mayonnaise!

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