We arrived at the ancient city of Bagan after breakfast, and on disembarking from the RV Paukan, were taken on a tour of a few of the famous pagodas, which are so different from our previous experiences. About 4,000 structures are scattered all over the fields in an area of just over 40 sq.km. surrounding Bagan, and are made from intricately laid and carved brick, with the inside of the pagoda plastered and painted with Buddha images dating back to the 11th to 13th century. Beautiful yet haunting as you walk around the dark corridors by torchlight.
Whilst tourism is very important to Bagan because of its pagodas, the town is also renowned for its lacquerware and woodcarving workshops, both cottage industries. For more information about the lacquerware process, see also www.baganhouse.com.
Several miles outside the town, Mt Popa can be found, an extinct volcano rising 1517 m above sea level, protected within the Mt Popa Mountain Park. Within the park is Mt Popa Resort, a very select and beautifully tranquil hotel which overlooks the Popa Taung Kalat, a tower like 737 metre volcanic plug, crowned with gilded Buddhist temples, and accessed by 777 steps. Whilst we were taken to the base of this plug, it was overcrowded with worshippers, so we retreated to the hotel for coffee, and enjoyed the fabulous view.
A journey through the countryside would be nothing without capturing rural scenes along the way:
In the evening we experienced a splendid sunset from the 3rd level of the Shwesandaw Pagoda, looking west at other pagodas silhouetted as the sun dropped below the distant mountain range. The photos speak for themselves:
A horse and cart the next day collected us from our hotel, the Amazing Bagan Resort Hotel, and took us to the Shwezigon Paya or pagoda close by, gilded with gold leaf. The sight of the pagoda bathed in sunlight against the clear blue sky was impressive.
A relaxing afternoon by the pool and a good evening meal concluded our stay at Bagan. The next day we were collected and took a flight from the local airport to Yangon.