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tappers’s Travel Diary

Monday, 14 Aug 2006

Location: Bagan, Myanmar

MapWas so glad to arrive in the town of Nyaung U after traumatic journey! For Myanmar standards the place was touristy, but really it has no tourist fascilities at all! If you ever want to come to a country that is completely untouched by Western influences, and entirely traditional than Myanmar is your best bet!

Spent three days in the area of Bagan. The place is famous because it contains a plain which houses thousands of unique and unexplored temples (google it!). Spent two days in a horse and cart travelling across the barren plains along sandy paths past cactus and other unfamiliar spiky plants. The scope of the place is unbeliveable and has far more temples than those witnessed at Angkor in Cambodia! The joy of these temples is that you are generally the only person inside them, because there are very few foreign tourists in Myanmar. Tayok Pya Paya was a temple that you could climb to get the full perspective of Bagan from above - thousands of temples as far as they eye can see! The best thing about Bagan is the fact that because of its out of the way location, these red brick temples have been untouched over the centuries and are thus in a perfect state of preservation.

Dhammayazika Paya looks beautiful rising from the heat of the plains , the scope of the place is huge, whilst the structure of Dhammayangyi Pahto is an imposing pyramid - all of these different architectural styles are all found in one location! One of the best temples for me was Anando Pahto because it was made of so much gold that it makes your eyes sing to look at it reflecting the suns rays. Also Shesandaw Paya is a remarkable place from which to watch the sunset because you get a 360 degree view of Bagan from the Ayrewaddy river to the far off mountains - spectacular! Only experiencing this place for yourself can really do it any justice, though i will upload the photos for you as soon as i return to Thailand!

Travelling alone is such a rewarding experience, the ability to have freedom and independence is unlike anything else in life. Yet on the flipside you do experience a mild sense of lonliness and a lot of stress, but the positive far outways the negative! Combined with the fact that you can never truly be alone because you are constantly meeting new people, and sharing great experiences.

From Bagan a group of us took a day trip to the mystical Mt Popa. This mountains is the holiest nat worship sight in the county - nat being the 37 different spirits worshipped by the people of Myanmar. Mt Popa is basically a huge crag with a monastry ontop - the climb up is strenuous and well worth it for the views, but only if you can avoid the vicious monkeys which have a tendancy to attack people!

Spent the remainder of my third day in Bagan cycling around teh countryside - it is always nice to get out on your own and experience a bit of exploration! The bets thing about Myanmar are the people who are so unbelivably friendly, everyone stops to wave at you or to chat. They do this with no ulterior motive, other than the fact that foreign faces are a rareity, as is news from the world outside of Myanmar.

We are talking about a country which moved its capital city to a metallic mountain in the arse-end-of-nowhere so that satellites would not be able to view it! Yet on the flipside the seclusion and secret nature of this country means that tribal pratices such as cannabilism are free to continue - without the judgemental views of the outside world! Myanmar truly is a different world - but one that i would reccomend to anyone with a sense of adventure...