Archive for Myanmar
Pictures of U Bein’s Bridge, at Amarapura, near Mandalay Myanmar as the sun sets over the shallow lake.
Ox cart heading across the lake with the famous 200 year old teak bridge in the background.
Cyclist heading home over the 1.3km long teak bridge.
Three cyclists silhouetted against the setting sun.
Cycling through the sun
It’s not often you see people walking above the setting sun.
Spires pointing to heavenward enlightenment stretched from horizon to horizon across the rich green plain of fields and bushes. The ancient civilisation of Bagan had spawned a frenzy of religious building which left this bend of the Irrawaddy dotted with thousands of ancient stone pagodas, monasteries, libraries and stupas. Now a vast archaeological heritage site it attracts visitors from all over the world. Damaged by earthquakes over the past thousand years some important buildings were destroyed and lost to history and science. Now preservation and strengthening work is rescuing the more important.
Whilst the communities who lived among the overgrown ruins have been relocated they still actively farm the land. So we walked from one enchanting and enigmatic pagoda with rich wall paintings and a huge standing Buddha statue through a field of tall waving corn to another with a poignant history. A rival king, captured and placed in house arrest commissioned a temple. In it he placed a gigantic seated Buddha which occupied almost the entire space within. Approached through a narrow gateway the oppressive confinement of the Buddha still conveys the sense of helpless frustration and home sickness the king felt. There are reverberations from that ancient monument to the present day unresolved politics of Myanmar.
Meandering amongst the crumbling stupas we came across a caretaker who also farmed the land with his family. As we chatted to him the most delicious aromas were wafting from a simple bean curry being cooked by his daughter. On being invited to sample the pot by this friendly and generous family we discovered the best Myanmar curry we had encountered. Not in posh hotel in Yangon, or in a roadside café in the mountains or on the steel deck of a river boat but a home cooked creation handed down through the generations and prepared on a wood fire in the centre of the mysterious and beautiful ancient city of Bagan.
Pictures of Bagan in Myanmar
Click on pictures to expand them.
Bagan is a huge archelogical site with over two thousand ancient Buddhist temples, monastaries, libraries and stupas spread out over the plain.
Whilst there are hundreds of tiny stupas there are also magnificent examples of ancient craftmanship like Htilominlo Temple.
Inside there are glorious Buddha statues and exquisite wall and ceiling paintings.
Exploring these monuments we met monks as well as many local tourists. Getting around in a horse and buggy was very popular, if a little bumpy.
The area was still used for agriculture. So we approached many temples through fields of crops.
One King who had been taken prisoner build a big Buddha Statue in a very confined temple with a narrow entrance way to express his feelings of confinement. Looking at the Buddha you can still sense his feelings of home sickness and frustration today.
Everywhere we went in Myanmar we met friendly people. This girl was sitting outside her house preparing lunch for her family. Her father was a temple caretaker. They chatted and invited us to taste the food she and her mother were cooking. It was delicious.
As the sun slowly sank we perched on a high temple wall and watched the thousands of spires of ancient Bagan being enveloped into the warm velvety night of Myanmar.