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One of 5000 temples and pagodas

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The cutest of 5000 novices

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Bagan is best viewed at sunset.

BAGAN     Bagan, famous for the 5,000 pagodas built there in the 11th and 12th centuries, was a thriving area until it was sacked by Kubla Khan.  Most pagodas were small shrines but several were large temples (or small pyramids).

I bicycled all over Bagan (something possible to do in December -- not July).  I visited the temples, but I did my share of tourist shops, too.  Bagan is known for lacquerware -- trays, cups, vases, jewelry.  The interior base is woven bamboo or wood.  It is lacquered, sanded, and repeated around twenty times until the end product is smooth and then intricately hand etched.  I wasn't impressed with the final product until I saw how it was made.   Then I had to have some, LOTS! 

The prices were sinfully cheap but I could do better than that.  In Burma, you can trade for everything!  I bought one vase for five dollars and a backpack.  I "bought" a huge water jug with my watch and fifteen dollars.  I also traded away my T - shirts for other treasures.  I would have traded more if I only had it.  Wayne Rutherford was sure I was going to trade away the only pair of pants I brought with me.  I was tempted.  In Burma most men wore wrap around skirts called longyis. 

There had been a lot of restoration work since my first visit.   The summer months were too hot to walk so I took a horse cart.

The last time in Bagan, I met a charming boy at sunset on a pagoda. Aung Kyaw Myink even took me to his house.  Well, I had to look him up.  A lot happens between age 11 and 15.  Aung Aung was huge -- but very gentle and polite.  He instantly remembered me.  When I visited before, the family was shy.  This time I was invited back for supper.  Maw Nu Nu, the mother, greeted me warmly and had gifts.  (I was relieved I had presents for Aung Aung!)  I left for the hotel around 9:00 P.M., but Aung Aung and his mother promised to see me off in the morning.  Sure enough, friends awaited at 6:00 A.M. to see me to the airport.

Copyright 1998 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.