On my third day in Bagan I set out to explore the northern temples between Old Bagan and Nyaung-U, which was pretty much just up one street and back down on the parallel main road. Upali Thein temple with it's 18th century frescoes would have been my first stop, but the temple was still locked and no photos were allowed anyway. However, it was the cleanest and well kept up temple surrounding on my whole week in Bagan. Too bad I did not find the man/woman who took care of the temple. The frescoes according to my book looked amazing!
A bit further north came Htilominlo temple which dominates the norther part of the plains. It is however a temple with a lot of souvenir vendors and it took a lot of energy to fend them off. The inside galleries are beautiful with large Buddha images and paintings all around the halls. One little souvenir seller kept asking me if I wanted to see the upstairs of the temple and after agreeing to it, she led me outside the temple into another building and up the roof. The view was great, so was her English language skills. But it came at the cost of having to look at what she had to sell. It was all pretty standard souvenirs. Nothing of interest, so a little tip had to do!
The famous Shwe-Zigon temple with it's golden stupa was next on my list and the furthest north I went. Unfortunately also this stupa was completely covered up for renovation, but there were many shrines and buildings to explore. It's a must-stop for pilgrims as it contains relics.
On the way back to Old Bagan I visited Kubyauk-Gyi, another temple which does not allow photography due to it's delicate frescoes. A bit further down however, came Gubyauknge temple where a nice and friendly lady opened the door for me, so I could explore the inside of the temple. The golden stupa of Alodawpyae Pagoda further south was an interesting stop for worship. Lots of monks and pilgrims stopped here and prayed inside the temple. This temple was neither on my map nor in the books. I only found out about the name after a Burmese friend told me the name. Across the street is where most tourists will stop at Buledi pagoda. It is a famous sunset spot and one of the few temples where tourists can climb up the stairs. However, I came back later again to watch the sunset from around that area (from the ground level), but I have seen so many people climbing around the most fragile parts of the pagoda, that it is just a matter of time before it will be off limits as well. Really sad to see how little respect those selfie-crazy tourists have for a pagoda which is several hundred years old.