Hello all. We are apparently much further from Hong Kong than the mileage would suggest. Central Myanmar isn’t really the telecoms hub of the planet, and intermittent connections have hampered our ability to post (that, plus we lost a day or so due to illness). Let’s see: bad connections and some digestion issues; yup, the adventure has started. Those, plus a trip to a World Heritage site to see thousand year-old temples, and we are starting to sense that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
After a short stop in Yangon, we hopped a puddle-jumper to Bagan, a small town in the middle of the country known for the thousands of temples and shrines packed into a few square mile area. Nearly a millennium ago, Buddhism came to Burma in a big way, attracting the patronage of the ruling class. Wealthy families would honor their religion by creating pagodas or stupas (the pointy shrines) of size proportional to their devotion and affluence.
We were there for 4 full days, one of which was spent in a pair of horse-drawn carts, bouncing along dirt paths to see some of these monuments up close. The valley has several thousand, and the kids bore through a long day seeing some of the highlights with an impressive amount of patience.
We met a very nice lady who explained a few things in one of the temples (the signs generally aren’t in English). Afterward, she gave us more information on some of the local customs and helped the kids look the part!
Some of the pagodas were able to be climbed, affording terrific views of the lands around. While some have impressive detail and brick work, to me it was really the vast quantity that was breathtaking. It really is a spectacular site, one that we got to explore only briefly but got a good taste of it I think.
We were fortunate to stay in a nice, somewhat upscale guest house, Thiri Marlar, where we had two rooms (great value at only $38 dollars per room). We needed the space and comfort, as we took turns being laid low by some sort of bug. The illness was intense but short-lived, with little lingering effect apart from a cold I picked up. In general though we have been comfortable and well-fed.
We have the next six nights near Lake Inle, also in central Myanmar but a bit to the east of Bagan and Mandalay. Weather is cooler here (low 50s at night) as we are a little higher up. We look forward to some serious R&R here as we take in the backpacker vibe of the town and area.