Tuesday, April 11, 2017
MY BAGAN TEMPLE VISITS SOUTH
After the early morning flight with the balloon over Bagan, the organizers drove me back to my hotel. Of course my Hotel was last on the route, so I could really not do to much during the remaining morning hours. I decided to rent one of my daily e-bikes and explore the temples south of the walled city. Of course it got to hot and I managed to visit only a handful of temples along the way.
Passing the old city wall I wanted to explore the huge Mingalazedi Stupa with all its famous Jataka Plaques, only to find the temple completely locked off due to earthquake damage. An inspection crew with their colorful helmets was walking around the upper platform, but there was not really any good view of the temple. Sadly it just turned into a brief view from the side. Next stop south was Kubyauk-Gyi (Myinkaba) and since I was arriving later in the morning, the tourist flow was already in full effect. Lots of souvenir sellers were approaching me when getting off the bike and it had a bit of a feeling like in Bali, Indonesia. Kubyauk-Gyi is famous for its excellent frescoes, but unfortunately there is NO PHOTOGRAPHY and a big sign at the door! You can't miss the sign and still an old an unfriendly womand snapped at me when entering the temple with a "NO PHOTO" greeting. I told her that I was capable to read and went inside to view the fresqoes with my own flashlight, all while being watched over by the old woman who followed me around. A bit of a disappointing visit actually. The next door Mahazedi temple was nicer to visit but it was also the first temple I saw with lots and lots of tourist and souvenir shops inside the temple wall.
Manuha temple was a highlight on the way south, as it featured three huge Buddha images, each being enclosed by a really small hall with connecting tunnels. To the back of the building was a large reclinging Buddha which was also enclosed by a small hall where only one person at a time can walk through. Nanpaya temple also featured wonderful stone carvings and eight life-sized images of Brahma inside, while I had to fend off very insisting souvenir sellers on the outside again. The south side of Bagan actually had most of the pushy sellers. Maybe that is due to the amount of tourists passing through here between Old Bagan and New Bagan or due to the number of Laquerware shops in the area. Abeyadana and Nagayon temple were again off limits for photos and a flashlight only shows a small portion of it, so the experience of viewing them is very limited.
So-Min-Gyi temple further south was again completely sealed off of scaffolded for earthquake repair work, but some really friendly people living next door invited me into the ruins and buildings next to it with wonderful views over Bagan's temples all the way down to the Irrawaddy river. Very friendly and with no push to buy paintings or souvenirs.
Across the street from So-Min-Gyi temple was my last stop for the morning with the temple pair of Sein-Yet-Ama and Sein-Nyet-Nyima. Both are rarely visited by tourists, though they form a nice and picturesque photo frame from outside the walls.
Back to the hotel for lunch and a relaxing time by the pool until it was time for sunset hunting again, which I did at the temples west of Shwesandaw Pagoda in a quiet setting with no other tourists or souvenir sellers.