Posts Tagged ‘Bagan’

Walkabout around Bagan @ Myanmar Day 4

Posted: February 6, 2013 in Sights
Tags: ,

Our itinerary for our third and last day in Bagan was – have a look at the market place then walk to the jetty and take a ferry. Have lunch and then catch the 3:30pm bus to Mandalay.

After breakfast, we started our walk around Bagan, our two navigator Chunny and W.Hoong checking out the maps to make sure that we were on the right pathP1010708

Interesting window decorationP1010705

A grocery stall selling various goods : from onions to cigarettes, various sauces, dried food and of course the betel leavesP1010710

These two helpers were counting the betel leaves and stacking them into the basketsP1010711

A tea stall equivalent to our mamak stallP1010713

We arrived at the market and after a brief discussion, we agree to go our own ways to explore the market and meet back at the starting point in 30 minutes time. I walked with AhPhenggg..saw some clothing stuff, lacquer wares, groceries, then eh..saw something that caught my fancy – a wind chime..and then…a wood carving, and then lacquer wares..and we were later joined by Chunny..and we ended up at the stall for close to 1 hour…P1010712

After happily parting with our Kyats…we guiltily walked back to the starting point ( 30 minutes late) and err..thought of excuses for being late. We waited for a few minutes and couldn’t see W.H, after a few minutes WH joined us, excitedly telling us about the fish market and also offered us some kuihs that he brought at the stalls..and err..the only thing we  saw was the souvenir shop..

We continued our journey to the ferry station…and on the way, we saw a barrel over an open  fire, seeing our kaypor faces, one of the guys took a long stick and lifted the contents..ah..they were boiling tarP1010715

We walked past the fire stationP1010716

The local public transport..that ‘tyre’ seat looked rather comfyP1010717

Road making in this was what the tar was for…this was very manual work…the ladies transport and spread the stones, then the steamroller run over that a few times to compact the surfaceP1010718

Peanuts being dried in front of a grocery shopP1010720

A clinicP1010722

Petrol kiosk , Ron 97 ? Ron 95 ?P1010723

Plastic bags free area…and Teapot condense milkP1010724

More interesting road signs ..the one on the left is about electrical safety , the others looked like religious related road signP1010725

A more modern grocery shop with the banners of familiar names : Lux, Pepsi, Colgate, Palmolive …P1010727

An interesting looking house..P1010728

Another beautiful looking house..P1010729

While our cameras were  busily clicking away  ,  the owner of the house came out to the gate ..OHH…is he going to chase us off ? But he was smiling and invited us into the compound of his house..and let us take photos around the the picture below is  the open kitchen area and the kitchenP1010730

Mr Saw spoke good English..and we started to chitchat with him, and we were then introduced to his mother, his sister, wife and son….and then chairs were brought out and tea was served …then we were offered palm sugar and crispy peanuts in batter .. Here we were, 4 strangers from another country ..a bunch of  kaypors…and Mr Saw and his family welcomed us into his house and extend his kindness to us..and answered our unending questions patiently..P1010732

Grandmother and  grandson…P1010733WH asked Mr Saw for the name of the kuih that he brought at the marketplace earlier and the next moment we know, Mr Saw started to talk to his sister and then he asked us when are we leaving Bagan, then Mr Saw said that his sister will go now to buy the kuih and drop them  at the guesthouse later while we go on our walkabout.  We declined the kind offer , and Mr Saw said that it was no trouble, there is a stall that makes this very well, and being local, they can buy it cheaply… Woooww….can you believe the kindness and hospitality of this family  ? P1010734

We were deeply touched and yes, I believe that there is kindness in this world, there is good in this world………someone please pass me a tissue..

After a hearty lunch, we, I mean Osaka trotted to the next destination – Shwegugyi Temple.

Before climbing a flight of stairs leading  to the gate of the temple- we came to  a stone slab depicting the history of Shwegugyi Temple in both English and Burmese. The temple was built by King Alaungsithu in 1131 AD. The name Shwegugyi means ‘the golden cave’P1010584

On our left , we saw brick foundations and pits – this looked like an excavation site- but from a web search- this seemed to be the what was left of the former royal palace which was made from wood. Which explain why Shwegugyi is also known as ‘Nandow Oo Paya’ which mean the pagoda in front of the palace.P1010586

Along the steps, there were souvenirs stalls and in front of the temple gate there was a stall selling sand paintingP1010606

One of the figures at the entranceP1010588

Shwegugyi was said to be built within a period of 7 months and 7 days. One of Buddha image inside the main entrance of the templeP1010590

Another Buddha image at the passageways, the ‘effect’ of plastering of gold leaf was evident on the statueP1010592

You probably could see it more clearly with this close upP1010594

Shwegugyi is one of the few temples in Bagan where we could explore the upper floors of the temple- Yayy…we could see Thatbyinnyu temple from one of the windowsP1010596

Stairways to heaven ?P1010597

The top of the central block were adorned by stupas. These hallow stupas make  a good temporaly hideaway for us  from the hot Myanmar sunP1010598

Part of the crewIMG_3395

Is the sky bluer in Bagan ?P1010605

We got a good view of the temples of Bagan from the top of the temple. On the top left is Dhammayangyi- it was  evident from our view that it is the largest temple in Bagan !DSCN0001_2

W.Hoong requested that we view an Hindu temple for a change. We had expected the structure to be very different from the Buddhist temple- but the red bricked Nathlaung Kyaung temple looked just like the other Buddhist temples in Bagan. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the structure- you can have a look by clicking here

Extracted from : Nathlaung Kyaung means ‘Shrine Confining Nats or Spirits’, a reference to a purported time when King Anawratha tried to banish Nat worship in Bagan. He is said to have confiscated all non-Buddhist religious images including indigenous Myanmar nats and Hindu devas. Then he ordered to have placed them in this shrine as part of an effort to establish ‘pure’ Theravada Buddhism during his reign. The king eventually gave in to the cult and standardized the current roster of principal Burmese Nats by placing 37 chosen images at Shwezigon Pagoda. This is the only Hindu temple remaining in Bagan. It is said to have been built in 931 by King Taunghthugyi, more than a century before Theravada Buddhism came to Bagan, following the conquest of Thaton. In design it resembles the Pyu Leimyethna or four-sided shrines of Sri Keshtra.

An image of Lord Vishnu inside the temple.P1010610

At the time of our visit, restoration work by UNESCO was taking place at the temple.  Below is another image at the templeP1010608

From the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, we moved on to Gawdawpalin temple. On how do we decide which temple to see, what we did was -the day before, we did some reading from the guidebooks, printouts and also referring to a Bagan map- then discuss amongst the team what we would like to see or any special request or no opinion and do anything also can. Then before starting our trip for the day we would mention to our horse cart drivers what we would like to see ( or what we do not want to see) and then leave it to them to organize.

Back to Gawdawpalin …After walking passed the main gateway, we came to many shops along the walkway, the shops were selling things like sunglasses, perfumes and other ‘modern goods’. I am not sure are the target customers the locals or the foreign tourists ..P1010614

Gawdawpalin temple was built by King Narapatisithu –  the same King that built Sulamani temple.  But King Narapatisithu did not see the completion of the temple , his son Htilominlo completed the building of the temple in 1127. The temple is located at the bank of the Ayeryarwaddy River. In the picture below is one of the  Buddha image inside the templeP1010624

A closer look at one of the seated  ‘guardians’ . Cute !P1010629




And last but not least a very different looking BuddhaP1010631

The temple had a very large compound and we spent a bit of time walking the grounds of the temple. The temple has two storeys and reaching a height of 180 feet, making it the second tallest temple in Bagan. Gawdawpalin was badly damaged by the 1975 earthquake and was reconstructed in the following years.P1010615

The guidebooks mentioned that Gawdawpalin Temple has three lower terraces and four upper terraces , and we spent quite sometime to confirm this because at certain angles the terraces are hidden and we couldn’t count the figures mentioned in the guidebook. This gave us more time to look at the structure and appreciate the beauty of Gawdawpalin.P1010623

Next, we headed towards the Ayeyarwady River and came to Bupaya Pagoda.P1010633

I was looking forward to have a look at Bupaya pagoda because the pumpkin or guord shaped ( Bu) temple would be different from the other temples that we have seen..but sayang loorrr..the temple was undergoing reconstruction and was covered in attap mats.. Bupaya had been rebuilt after original Pagoda was totally wrecked by the 1975 earthquake.P1010635

The shrine hallP1010642

This was the  first time in Bagan that I saw a Buddha image made from marbleP1010638

A view of the Ayeyarwady  the boats are for charter to view the sunsetP1010639

We were running late to catch the sunset ..and Osaka had probably suffered more whippings to speed him/her up. The other horse carts making their way to the lookout point to view the sunsetP1010643

Run Osaka run….P1010644

The lookout point..and the first time I saw such a large collection of tourist, there were a lot of stairs to climb..P1010645

The novices and their mentor are here to view the sunset too



The setting sun and the stupas made an interesting view..P1010649

The ‘salted egg yoke’P1010656

After viewing the sunset , it was a steep climb down to mortal groundsP1010691

Not too was dinner time, we decided to try out Mann Sa Bai, which was a few minutes walk from our guest house ( the picture below was taken during daytime)P1010704The menu


I ordered steam rice with vegetable for 800K . Steamed rice with meat cost 1500K. there were plenty of vegetables plus tofu. This was not too bad, only complain was the portion was rather big lorrrDSCN0014

AhPheng had fried vermicelli with vegetable for 800KDSCN0015

W.Hoong must be feeling hungry for he ordered the Myanmar buffet. There were some really spicy sauces with the buffetDSCN0009

After our meal, we were provided with desserts- thin palm sugar slices delicately wrapped in papers…these were slightly sourish and very nice..we finished the whole plate of palm sugar within a few minutes..somebody please stop us..DSCN0017

With our tummies filled with palm sugar..thus end our third day in beautiful Myanmar..

Woke up to a cool morning, took a shower and then got ready to go to the coffeehouse  for breakfast ( the USD 25 room rate  were inclusive of breakfast) .Took our seats and waiter asked us how would we like our eggs, I would like an omelet , please..

A plate of fruits consisting of a banana, slices of watermelon plus pineapple were delivered to our table, plus tea + coffee and then a plate of something, err..this is a weird looking tasted good though, must be the Myanmar style omelet.DSCN9998

After a few minutes …two slices of toast and the omelet were delivered to our the earlier ‘something’ was actually  a pancake..Omelet ?? what a clever Malaysian i am ..tsk tsk tsk…DSCN9999

After breakfast, we stepped into the cool morning sun and Osaka was already waiting for us, and Mr Driver proudly showed us his ‘I love Malaysia’ t-shirt under his leather jacket . This was a gift from his brother who worked in KL .

Our first destination for the day- Sulamani temple..we drove through dirt roads…P1010499

Then we drove through beautifully landscaped tarmac roads..P1010500

Then we arrived at Sulamani temple. Sulamani was built in 1181 by Narapatisithu The name means ‘Crowning Jewel’ or ‘Small Ruby.P1010501

A ‘face’ plus glazed plaques at the templeP1010504

A devotee is seen applying gold leaf to the Buddha Image.P1010505

We saw interesting frescoes on the interior walls of the templeP1010514

These frescoes are said to be from the Konbaung periodP1010518

A more colourful mural, this looked newer than the ones shown above..DSCN0003_3

There were four Buddha images on the ground floor, this is one of the statues .Remains of the mural behind the statue is still visibleP1010513

This Buddha image has a little roof above- we saw some bird poo on the ‘robe’ on the Buddha image, the roof might be a protective layer for the Buddha’s head..bad birdie.. i wonder will the birds reap bad karma from acts like these…P1010515

The head of this image was gilded but the torso was not.  We walked quietly as not to disturbed  the meditating monk. I was curious why a monk would place bank notes by his meditating mat. Then he opened his eyes and pointed at the bank notes..i think he was asking for some money. Hey, how can like that one !!  I think this misguided monk might suffer worse fate than the poo poo birdies..P1010519

We couldn’t go up to any of the floors, so we continue our exploration outside the compound of the temple. Sulamani was damaged during the 1975 earthquake and rebuilt in 1994P1010529

Pilasters in the form of stupa at the corners.P1010525

Intricate ornamental work around the templeP1010521


Arches and frescoesP1010534

The beautiful red brick temple against the blue blue sky..P1010532

Earlier I wrote  that from the way he whipped and scold Osaka, Mr Driver was a cruel master , but on the other hand, Osaka seemed to be a lazy horse too ( or maybe we were too heavy) , he/she ( I was going to find out but I forgot to ‘inspect’) will often slow down and not trot in a straight line without constant whipping . I am not joking when I tell you that Osaka is probably one of the slowest horse in Bagan.. we were overtaken by other horse cart countless times. We later found out that Osaka is four years old and Chunny’s horse was eleven years old—maybe Osaka was just young and still learning the ways of horse carting… Aiyaaa alllaaa hooyaa mama…

Our next destination – Dhammayangyi Temple.

From  The Dhammayangyi (or Dhamma-yan-gyi) Pahto, extending approximately 255 feet on each of its four sides, is Bagan’s most massive shrine. There is considerable controversy over the identity of the builder and the construction of the building itself. It probably was built by King Narathu (1167-1170) over a three year period to atone for his wicked rule. Yet some have attributed it to Narathu’s father and predecessor, Sithu I, who also built Thatbyinnyu. Legend suggests that Narathu met his end in a series of morbid events shortly after acceding to the throne. He had smothered his father and, shortly thereafter, his brother. After he had one of his wives (a former Indian princess and one of the wives of his father) executed for her Hindu hygienic rituals, he was assassinated by eight men, disguised as Brahmin priests, sent by the princess’s father. Others, however, have suggested that his death came at the hands of a Ceylonese mission that not only killed the king but sacked the city and introduced Ceylonese influence into the architectural spirit of Bagan.P1010537

Once we stepped into the temple, we were approached by five young ladies carrying baskets of souvenir items like postcards and lacquer wares. It was hard to shake them off and two of them start to tag along with us – speaking to us in English and then when they heard us speaking mandarin , they uttered a few words of mandarin too. After walking with us for a while and getting the cold shoulder, there was only one of them left and she continue to tell us about the temple and well, we listened and started to ask her questions too…P1010542

Our tour guide’s name is Aye-Aye and she is a college student , during the weekends, she hang out at the temple to earn some extra pocket money to support the family, her ambition is to study at a University in Mandalay majoring in history so that she can become a tour guide.

While we were walking with Aye-Aye thought the passages, she showed us the inner ambulatory passages that were sealed – one of the theory behind this was that the construction workers sealed the passages to King Narathu. I wonder what treasures lie  behind these sealed walls..P1010544

We saw more Buddha images along our walk..P1010547

This particular statue is re-constructed, but I can’t remember whether the head or the torso was the original.P1010545

At  the western gate we saw the images of the historical ( Gotama) and future ( Maitreya) Buddha sitting side by side P1010552

At the back of the two images was a statue of the reclining Buddha, we were told that this was made by King Narathu to seek forgiveness from his wife after he killed her fatherP1010548

The brickwork at Dhammayangyi is said to be the finest in Bagan, Narathu is said to do thorough QC checked of the brickwork, and Narathu would execute the masons if he could stick a pin between the bricks


After completing our tour, we asked Aye-Aye to show us the postcards that she was selling and also the George Orwell book ‘Burmese Days’… her asking price for the postcards were 3000K for a set of 10, this was higher then the regular price of 1000K but we agree that the quality was a bit better and we do have to pay for her tour-guide services- but whatever said and done , we are still Malaysians, so we had to bargain. The final price was 2,000K but I think she was rather disappointed with us for bargaining. The picture below is Aye Aye in a happier mood.( before the bargaining exercise)


After saying goodbye to Dhammayangyi, we head towards Thatbyinnyu- which was very noticeable and different from the other temple as it was in white . Thatbyinnyu was built in the mid 12th century by King Alaungsithu , this is said to be one of the earliest double-storey templesP1010566

There were many souvenirs stalls at the entrance of the temple and there were also many peddlers too, mostly young children, we were bombared with questions like  ‘where are you from?’ and some of them greeted us with ‘Ni hau ‘ , ‘Sawadee ka’  ‘are you from china ?’- and after hearing us talking in Mandarin – immediately, the prices of the souveniers were quote in Renminbi equivalent . I replied ‘ from Thailand’ to one of them and immediately, the prices were quoted in singsong Thai .. haha, these kids are clever

We entered the temple through the eastern door and were greeted by two colourful door guardians who were guarding the stairways.P1010567

Access to the stairways is now forbidden and we can only explore the ground floors.  P1010571

From the tiled floor- the temple looked like it has been restored but probably not in a proper manner as we saw modern looking  tiles of different colours lining the floors and some part of the walls were whitewashed.P1010572

From afar , this temple looked very grand and stood out amongst the other temple- but now that we were at the temple- it didn’t appear to be  as grand or intimidating  – I guess this is also due to that we could only walk around the ground floor and could not explore building . or maybe I was just hungry…P1010574

For lunch, we decided to have the Myanmar buffet ( again) – at another branch of the Golden Myanmar ( the restaurant that we had lunch the day before)- fried fish/fried chicken, stew fatty pork, curry chicken and mutton


This was followed by more dishes to fill our table , the additions were mostly vegetables and the various sauces and condiments plus a large plate of raw vegetable..P1010583