Bagan, November 7th

posted Nov 8, 2013, 3:27 PM by Jacqui Stanley   [ updated Nov 8, 2013, 6:32 PM ]
After an interesting flight on a little prop plane with Yangon Airlines via HeHo and Inle Lake and Mandalay, we arrived at The Amazing Bagan Resort! Our guide informed us that it would not be very amazing, but it really was!
It was very different from the busy city of Yangon. Everywhere you look in Bagan - everywhere - there are temples and pagodas. Everywhere. They are all mostly built of red brick and many of them have the beautiful gold leaf covering. As soon as we left the airport, the religious significance of Bagan was all present. At present, a total of 3122 ancient buildings are already recorded and this number does not include mural paintings, stucco art, glaze relief plaque or terra cotta buildings. The name of Bagan means "crushing of enemies" and it was an ancient city that thrived from 1st to 13th century covering 1300 years.
The resort was quiet and spread out with beautiful trees and flowers everywhere. Bagan is rushing to take advantage of the tourist industry that is emerging since this country opened up three years ago. The infrastructure in not quite there to support this influx of visitors. There is little or no internet support and it is sporadic. 
The good thing for us is that we are seeing the country still much as it was, in another year, it won't be the same. 

This morning we visited the Lacquerware Institute of Bagan. The teacher and director of the Institute gave us a detailed explanation of the process and then we saw a classroom where students learn this craft. The master teacher drew - freehand - one of the traditional designs that they use in their beautiful craft. We teachers were at home sitting at the student desks in the classroom. It is an intricate art with so many processes. Patience is required for sure!
We stopped at a lacquerware workshop and we all bought some pieces!!

After lunch, we visited the Shwe-zi-gon Pago Temple. It was built around 1100 AD and to say it is magnificent is not even close. We removed our shoes and entered the huge temple and wandered through the quiet and calm stone hallways. 

Then on to the Irrawaddy River for an evening cruise. During the time in Bagan, we have all been besieged by small people selling longis, post cards, marionettes, everything. We soon discovered that they have been following us. As soon as we leave someplace, they hop on motor bikes and arrive just as we are exiting our bus! They are there at every temple, and of course they are meeting us at the Irrawaddy River. They all speak many languages enough to sell their wares and it is quite a feat to make it out of our bus without buying something! They all know our names and it is like meeting old friends again at every stop!
Dinner that night was outdoors. There was a loud band of musicians accompanying a marionette performance. We were all ready for bed!