>Day 37-part 3. More of Bagan.

>(posted day 41)
After leaving the wedding, the first thing we did was go to the market. Most households do not have refrigerators, and so they go to the market each morning to get what they need for lunch and dinner that day. It was a very simple and colorful market…

These are some of the ways they get things to market….

And this is how they get things home….

Next we went to check out some of the temples and stupas. There are about 3,500 stupas and temples in Bagan…everywhere you look! I had no idea there would be so many. I have never seen anything like it. Most of them date back to the 11th to 13th centuries. The reasons there are so many from that period is that Bagan was the capital during that time and fell to the Mongols in 1287. Also prior to the 11th century, there was only one crop in this region….then from the 11th to 13th century, crops multiplied significantly, resulting in people giving more money for the building of religious monuments as they felt that if they contributed a stupa or temple, they would return to a higher station in the next life. Also during the time of Bagan rule there were 55 different kings, and all had to outdo the other with their offering of a bigger and better stupa or temple; then their ministers were inclined to make contributions of smaller stupas/temples around that of their king. Also, brick and sandstone, which is used in construction of these monuments is plentiful in this region.

The first one we went to see, Shwezigon, is completely covered in gold leaf. The gold leaf needs to be replaced every few years.

This is the most important shrine in Bagan, and was completed in 1089.

Many of them lost their tops during the 1975 earthquake, so the tops had to be replaced, so are not from the original construction. You can see here, on the Gu Byauk Gyi temple, how the top is a lighter color.

This temple is famous for its 12th century mural paintings of the story of buddha. Unfortunately, many of the fresco tiles were stolen by tourists. Then many of the tiles had fallen off of the walls during the earthquake, and there was no organized effort to “save them.” Instead, locals were hired to “clean up” from the devastation, and they threw away the tiles that were in the wreckage. But some of the paintings can still be seen…

This temple, Ananda, houses 1,674 Buddha statues….

The four main buddhas are shown standing rather than the normal sitting position…

This temple is important because of its architecture, which took great care with the ventilation (even in the 40degree Celsius heat, it was cool inside) and the window openings were placed in a way to capture the Buddha images within the temple as if there were lights shining on them, as you can see above (there were no lights in this room….the light is natural). As we strolled through this temple, we came across some tourists from 100 miles away who had come to see the temples during school break and had never seen a caucasian person before, and so were quite taken with seeing me, especially since I was from New York City in America (even now, most of the tourists are Asian, although I’ve seen an occasional person from France or Germany). Anyway, they each had to have their photo taken with me, including the 75 year old grandfather…

All of this, and its just now time to go to lunch. And what a treat! My guide took me to a restaurant that had just been opened 8 months ago by a friend he used to work with at a local hotel.

And my guide, who would like to have his own cooking class, took over the kitchen and made my lunch…

…lentil soup, Myanmar curry chicken (different from Thai or Indian), tomato/onion/ground peanut salad, prawns with tomato sauce and papaya and watermelon for dessert. yum!

While we were there, he was helping the young servers with their English (the two young girls on the left…the woman on the right owns the restaurant with her husband).

After lunch, it’s time to go to my hotel for an afternoon siesta. The afternoon highs here are in the 40’s (again, that’s celsius!!), so good to lay low for a couple of hours at the peak of the heat.

My hotel has a lovely setting…

…with a wonderful pool area….but the room is only ok. It has air conditioning and hot water, so how much more does one need, hey?

Siesta time!

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