Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Playing Indiana Jones in Bagan

I love watching the Indiana Jones movies (Except that last abomination. Why, Harrison Ford, WHY??) When I was younger I used to pretend that I was an archeologist, digging up buried treasure in the back yard and exploring abandoned buildings. I just knew that I would find some evidence of an ancient civilization or extinct species that they would then name after me. Even though I never made that great discovery, to this day every time I hear the Indiana Jones theme song, it makes me want to go on an adventure!

When Sarah, Megan and I were in the planning stages of our trip to Myanmar, we knew the the one place we HAD to visit was Bagan. This area of Myanmar has over 2,000 ancient Buddhist temples all built between the 11th and 13th century. Most of the temples are original, although some have been rebuilt due to earthquakes. 

Our preferred way to see the temples of Bagan was to rent a bicycle and start before sunrise. This way we not only got to watch the sun rise over the vast fields full of temples, but it was also much cooler and there were fewer touts trying to sell us sand paintings. We would set off from our hotel and randomly choose a dirt path that connected to the main road. This dirt path would lead us through farm fields and past thatch huts to temples both small and large. 

The best part of the temples in Bagan is that we were free to explore and I could live out my dream of being Indiana Jones. We walked around inside and saw the beautiful paintings and we took a tour of the outside and saw the ornate carvings that are still there even after 1000 years! And some of the temples held a super secret surprise- narrow and dark stairs that led to the top of the temple and a birds eye view of the whole area. Stunning!

Temples surrounded by farm fields

Farmer using oxen and a wooden plow

Bagan at Sunset
A young woman selling her wares
Yes, yes we did climb all of those stairs

Many of the temples had similar corner carvings

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