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
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.
1998 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.