Myanmar is one of the ancient countries that have a long history. Buddhism is greatly flourishing in the country as the Buddhist here replete with the power of faith that handed down from ancient times. However, nowadays Myanmar began to open up the country more and more which lead to many developments and moreover, many old points of view of Myanmar start to change greatly for example nowadays the vehicles from the old days that use oxcart and horse carriage started to change to luxurious car and big bus that bustling around the city instead. If you would like to witness the beautiful old culture that still exists, I suggest you should travel to Myanmar before the capitalist development takes over the place. Additionally, this is the main reason why I would like to travel to Myanmar to learn the essence of “Myanmar" before everything changes.
I planned the trip to Myanmar many years ago; nevertheless, we had an issue with the round trip air ticket Bangkok-Yangon-Bangkok that is rather expensive. The ticket costs almost ten thousand baht per person. Besides, another reason is that other trip members do not have the same free time; therefore, Myanmar trip has always been put off. Until early 2014, Air Asia releases air ticket promotion to Myanmar which round trip Bangkok-Yangon-Bangkok costs around 3000baht per person. My friend tried to reserve the air ticket for us but unfortunately we cannot book the promotion ticket. After the promotion period is over, I recheck the price once again, and found that the air ticket costs around 5500baht. Therefore, we decide not to wait any longer for the promotion price as we afraid that the longer we wait, the more expensive the ticket is. At last, we reserve the ticket around 10 months in advance before the trip. We do reserve the ticket such ahead of time that we may forget we have a trip to Myanmar during the end of the year.
When the time is close by, Gee who is one of the members of the trip has contacted Land Company at Myanmar already; thus, I do not have anything to worry much about this trip unlike the trip to Egypt.
Finally the travelling time has arrived; we make an appointment to meet at Don Mueang Airport at 05.30am. Totally, we have 7 members for this trip altogether which are myself, Gee, Doctor Jay, Doctor Choke, Khao and new members, Miss Tan and Doctor Saichol. Each person comes from each parts of Thailand. After we are done with check-in process and load our baggage, we head to the gate and wait for set off. Our flight departure time is 07.15am and will arrive at Myanmar around 07.45am. Don't be surprised that why is such a short flight time just only 35 minutes to Myanmar. Actually, Myanmar time zone is slower than Thailand 30 minutes. Therefore, the actual flight time is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
After we reach at Yangon airport and get pass through the immigration process, I then go to do the exchange money at the airport. As before travelling, Gee has checked the money exchange rate information and has learned that in Myanmar, the exchange rate at the airport is better than in the black market. During the time, 1USD equals to 846 Kyat. For those who take USD dollar to exchange with Kyat, I suggest you should take new banknote unless there will be the problem as they may refuse to do the exchange. The smell of Kyat banknote is quiet strong; I don't know whether it is from the printing ink or the paper itself. Although we use Kyat banknote, when we make a payment, the merchant will thoroughly check the condition of the banknote. Consequently, if it's not too troublesome when you get the change from the shop, you should check the banknote carefully as well. If you receive the banknote with a torn mark, there may be a problem when you spend it in the other shop.
After leaving the airport, the staff of Land Company that Gee has contacted for us in advance, has already been waiting for us. Surprisingly, the Land company staff also gives us cotton shirts for souvenir. There are 2 cars that come to pick us up which it is actually not convenient for travelling. I think the coordination between company's staff and the driver is very poor as they make mistake in the number of the guests as we have 7 members and they prepare 2 cars for us. At last, the staff decided to contact the company and change to the van car instead. During the time while waiting for the new vehicle, we wait at the restaurant which seems like Dim Sum restaurant at our country, it is located in the outskirts of Yangon city.
The food is similar to our country. There are Fried Chicken which I think they have been fried quiet sometimes as I could feel the cold and tasteless of the chicken when I have a bite. Besides, there are also Bajang (Zongzi, sticky rice dumplings), the dessert that stuffed with the vegetable which looks similar to Curry puff of our country, Steamed Bun eats with Steamed Pork Ribs, another menu is look like Chinese Steamed Dumpling and the dessert is Pudding. However, if you don't like the menu, you could order as you like whether it be Noodles in Burmese style or Rice with Curry. After the van arrives, we start our journey and heading to Hongsawadee city.
Hongsawadee city or Mon people called it "Bago city" is the most ancient capital city of the great Mon Kingdom in the past as the city has more than 400 years of history. Hongsawadee city is away from Yangon city approximately 80 kilometers distance. In the beginning, the road is the asphalt road with 4 lanes; therefore, the car drives smoothly that we could take a short sleep after waking up early for the journey. However, the road is changed to 2 lanes after we drive out from the city zone. The road is started to have a bumpy condition that makes our heads shake all the way. And since the traffic in Myanmar will drive on the right head side but the car that we ride in has a steering wheel on the right hand side as well, thus, it is quite difficult to drive. The cars in Myanmar have both left and right steering wheel, however, nowadays most of the new car have the left side steering wheel.
The first destination we visit is Kyakhat Wine Monastery. This monastery has more than thousands of monks and novices who have been here to study Tripitaka. Oh! I totally forget to tell you that when entering all monasteries in Myanmar, we have to put off our shoes and socks before. And in order to save the money for deposit shoes, you could put off your shoes in the car.
I have been at this monastery twice. The first time I was here, I arrived before the forenoon meal time. However, this time I arrive after the forenoon meal time; therefore, I missed to watch the monks going down to line up for taking the food.
I just see the set of dishes for the dessert.
After a disappointment, we head to the second monastery which is Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda or be well- known by Thai people as Mu Tao Pagoda, The ancient pagoda that has more than 1200 years of age and it is one of top five most sacred places of Myanmar.
Travelling in Hongsawadee city nowadays, the foreigner tourists have to pay the entire entrance fee at 10 USD which include the visit to all the attractions in Hongsawadee city. Moreover, each monastery will collect an additional fee charge for taking pictures at 300 and 500 Kyat which depends on each place. We pay 300 Kyat for the camera charge at this monastery. At the front of the Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda, we could see two of Sinha (means lion) stand on the two sides of the stairways in the west side.
If you observe closely, you could see there is Upagupta Buddha image situated inside the mouths of both Sinha.
Shwemawdaw Pagoda or Mutao Pagoda is located at the heart of Hongsawadee city. Besides, It is always considered as the pagoda of Hongsawadee city. Since inside the pagoda has enshrined hair relics of the Lord Buddha, therefore, Mon people believe that this pagoda has more significant than Shwedagon Pagoda. The uniqueness of this pagoda is the conical pinnacle of pagoda that collapsed on 5 th May 1930. Although the tip of pagoda has a huge weight, but it has remained its condition and not broken into pieces after collapse. The pagoda has 377 feet tall which is 51 feet taller than Swedagon Pagoda. The construction of this pagoda is similar to Swedagon Pagoda in using real gold plate encrusted around the pagoda. The word “Mutao" means a hot nose; this is because of the huge shape of the pagoda, making all of us have to look up to watch the pagoda, and the sunlight will burn up our nose.
Originally, when the pagoda was firstly built, its tall is approximately 8-floor building high. However, since the kings of Mon Kingdom initiate to offer the gold that has an equally weight as the weight of each King for encrusting the pagoda; therefore, nowadays the pagoda is 5 times taller than the old one or equals to 38-floor building approximately.
If you could come and visit this place, don't forget to watch the Mahabodhi tree which is descended from its original specimen at Bodh Gaya. It is believed that the Buddha has attained enlightenment beneath the Mahabodhi tree. The said tree is easily recognized as there is only one Mahabodhi tree in the monastery. The prominent characteristic of Mahabodhi tree is that its leaf has a shiny skin and its veins will be on the top surface of the leaf which is different from the common Bodhi tree in that the leaf veins of the common specimen will be on the below surface and its leaf has a matte skin.
A brick pillar that claimed to be the original artifact in the reign of King Dhammazedi.
The swan pillar in Hongsawadee style, built in a square shape pillar with the twin swan figures on the top. The female swan will stand on the male swan.
After that we walk to our third destination, Kanbawza Thardi Palace which is not far from Kyakhat Wine Monastery.
Kanbawza Thardi Palace had just been excavated and renovated in 1990 and had been reconstructed from the imagination according to the remains of the old palace. It is quite pity that Myanmar government has rebuilt the new palace over the remains of the old palace which still has been not finish excavated. It is assumed that this historic site is the royal residence of King Bayinnaung, The Conqueror of the ten directions. Furthermore, this place is used to be the royal residence of Princess Suphankanlaya and King Naresuan when they both are required to be the prisoner of war during the second siege of Ayutthaya Kingdom. In the present, this palace has left only the traces of history.
When entering into Kanbawza Thardi Palace, continue driving straight ahead and there will be the intersection, turning to the right, you will find the great audience hall that was reconstructed and imitated from the original design.
The palace is remarkable by its Burmese architecture style with shining golden yellow color covers both inside and outside. I am not certain that in the past they use the real gold to build or not; however, the Department of Archaeology of Myanmar has used the golden yellow color to paint the building both inside and outside and spray paint the gold color on each pillars to add the ornate design which I think the delicacy could not compare with those in our country.
Inside the palace is made to resemble a museum for telling the story in the past. There are the model of the palace, wooden doors, the huge teak pillars of the old palace display.
The imitation of royal carriage.
The hall behind the great hall.
And if you turn left, there will be the Bee Throne Hall. King Bayinnaung has greatly admired in the bee and he also used the battle of the bees to be the tactics in the battle. During the time that King Bayinnaung has finished constructing this hall, there are a lot of bees come to build their bee hives here.
Inside the palace, there is the throne of King Bayinnaung which nowadays Myanmar government has built the glass room to protect the throne. Since the glass creates reflection, it is rather difficult to take photos. I have to bend up and down to avoid the reflection while taking the photos. When the officer sees me try hard to take those pictures, he comes to open the glass room for me and allow me to go inside to take photos.
However, I feel something is not quite right as he try to induce us to go inside. I then try to communicate with him is it “Free Free"?, and he replies “Free Free", I still do not want to believe that it is free but I am afraid that he will feel disheartened; therefore, I just poke my head in to the room and capture the photo just a little bit.
Moreover, he tries to encourage me to walk to the middle of the room by leading me the way to exit the room in another door. However, I walk back as I think if I walk through the room and exit to another door, I may definitely need to pay tips to him. Besides, more than that if I have stand in the middle of the room, I think I could not have capture the whole figure of the throne as it is rather huge and the standing area is quite small and close to the throne. (I don't know whether the intention of the officer has come from the pure mind or not; or he just want the tips from me. If he has a pure intention, I need to apologize for refusing his kindness). When walking out from the Bee Throne Hall, you could see Mutao Pagoda in the front.
There are many bee sculptures at the plinths of the Throne and this point is quite different from other Kings in that the other kings will build sculptures of Sinha instead.
At the opposite side of the Bee Throne Hall, you will see a building with big corrugated iron roof in maroon color which left only pieces of log inside. It is told that this place used to be the royal residence of Princess Suphankanlaya who is one of the consorts of King Bayinnaung. The King has constructed this residence for the princess at the front of the Bee Throne Hall.
Our fourth destination is at Shwe Thal Yaung Monastery.
The reclining Buddha image of this monastery was built by King of Mon and it has 1018 years of age approximately with 55 meters length. It is Myanmar's second large reclining Buddha image which is second to Kyauk Htatgyi Buddha image in Yangon city which has 70 meters length. The sleep appearance of the reclining Buddha image here is the leisure sleep figure with the eye open and the hand will lie down on the floor which differs from Kyauk Htatgyi Buddha figure in that the head will lay on the hand.
There are a lot of souvenir shops along the staircases which leading to reclining Buddha image. I think the most renowned souvenir here is the wood carving of Upagupta Buddha image which is carved from the fragrant wood. The additional camera charge of 300 Kyat will be collected here.
Our fifth destination that we are heading to is the Maha Zedi.
Maha Zedi was built by King Bayinnaung for housing the teeth relics of the holy Buddha which has received from Sri Lanka. Later, the relics have been seized at Sagaying city, Mandalay. The plinth of pagoda is similar to the plinth of Phukhaothong Pagoda in Ayutthaya. The day that the pagoda was finished constructing, Angwa princess who is one of the consorts of King Bayinnaung has given the birth of the little princess which is considered as great auspicious time.
The plinth of Maha Zedi is in a huge eight square pyramid shape. Actually, the pagoda still left only the plinth; nevertheless, Myanmar government has rebuilt the pagoda in to the figure that displayed at the present time. All the 4 sides of the pagoda have staircases to walk up to above. Nevertheless, I am uncertain whether walking up is permitted or not as I have not ever seen people walk up above. The additional camera charge is 300 Kyat here.
Our sixth destination is at Kalyani Sima Monastery.
King Dhammazedi is the one who bu ilt this monastery; the place was built in order to restore the Buddhism which was deteriorated in his reign. The King sent a number of monks to Lanka for learning the Doctrine and the Discipline and came back to disseminate the religion in Mon city. When those monks have finished learning, they journey back to Hongsawadee city and King Dhammazedi has constructed the chapel in the outskirts; he named the monastery “Kalyani Sima Monastery" which is named after the Kalyani River where Mon monks were ordained in Lanka. The atmosphere inside the monastery is quiet old and silent, there is only a few number of tourist come to visit here. At the back of the monastery, there is the small pavilion that is housed the stone inscription which was inscribed the journey story of those monks whom King Dhammazedi sent to Lanka for learning the Doctrine and the Discipline.
Our seventh destination is the last monastery in Bago before we head to Yangon, the Kyaik Pun Pagoda.
Kyaik Pun Pagoda (Kyaik Pun Buddha) consists of seated four Buddha images which their back turn against each other; each Buddha images have 30 meters high. The pagoda consists of Samana Gautama Buddha (North), the Gonakom (South), the Kusanto (East) and Mahakasyapa (West).It is said that this place was built by four sisters who dedicate themselves to Buddhism. The Buddha images represented their vow of chastity and virginity for the rest of their life, however, one sister broke the promise and got married. Later, the legend tells that one of the Buddha image is cracked up immediately. Me and other members tried to see if there is evidence of the cracks but we can see a little fractures in all four Buddha image, therefore, we could not be sure which one it is. 300 Kyat of the camera fee has been collected at this monastery.
After finish visiting the important monasteries in Bago city, then we go for a dinner before heading to the bus station in Yangon city for the next trip to Bagan. Kee tells us that we will use the bus as a transportation to travel which takes about 10 hours. I begin to feel a little anxious about the bus condition. Since my last time in Myanmar, I saw many buses as well as the car that I used throughout the journey that time are all in old condition, moreover, it seems that some buses in our country are more in a good condition than here, thus, I started to panic with this old ride.
When the van arrives at the station, I then see the bus condition and it's not much different from what worries me. This morning before leaving to Myanmar, I wake up since 2am to prepare to go to the airport. I could not sleep during the flight and I have to go on an all day tour. In addition to that, tonight I also have to uncomfortably sit in this old bus, oh, am I going to be alright? I keep thinking in my mind. Finally, the van was parked at the back of the bus, which Oh!!! Eh, why is this bus so new!!!, this bus is splendid. But is this our vehicle? I ask Kee whether this is the vehicle that will take us to Bagan. Kee nodded instead of answer and all my concern is gone but just not yet completely.
I would have to wait for the staff to load my luggage into the bus first then my concern would be entirely eliminated. Later the staff has finally come to take our luggage to load at the below compartment and suddenly all my anxious is gone. This time we use the transportation service of Shwe Mandalar company and the ticket costs around 900 baht. I regret that I did not take any photo of the bus because of the surrounding area is bustling and quite dark. Our bus started to set out around 07.00pm.
The condition of the bus area inside is quite good. The ride has a comfortable large cushion but I have one doubt is that there is only one pillow in the middle of the backrest cushion meaning that whoever comes up on the bus first could have a chance to use that pillow. In addition, each seat provides personal headphone and blanket. I would say that the air condition in the bus is very cold and the bus does not have a bathroom for service. The bus does not serve a snack for us like the bus service at our country but they do have a bottle of water provide us in the trip.
I have a light sleep the whole night. After 3 hours of riding, the bus stopped at the stop over point for the passengers to go to the bathroom and have some meal. At that time, I was just starting to fall asleep, however, I have to wake up as the bus have to turn off the engine and all the passenger is required to leave the bus. During the stop over, the staff will provide us refreshing towel and toothbrush. Anyway since I need to wake up, I then proceed to the bathroom and wash my face for refreshing as well.
Let's talk a bit about the rest area, it does look a lot elegant than the rest area in Thailand I would say. They built the place using the white color as the main color and it looks nice, moreover, they also provide free Wifi inside. There is restaurant provided inside as well. But then again if anyone would like to eat supper here, you would have to pay by yourself. They do not have free coupon for food like our country. They let us stopover to do some stretching around half an hour and then we continue to travel again.
There will be some stop along the way for some of the passengers as they reach their destination. If you would like to go to the restroom, you could absolutely ask the driver to make a stop for the toilet for you. Around 4:30am, we finally reach at Bagan city safe and sound. Kee then contacts the vehicle to come and take us to the hotel. We rest at the hotel about 15 minutes, then we begin our journey once again at 5am in the morning.
Bagan, the historic city and it has become the tourism city nowadays. The city was called "The city of the sea of pagodas" or "The land of four thousand pagodas". it is said that the pagoda forest of Bagan city used to have more than 4000 pagodas in the past. Although, the city is suffered from the war and many major earthquakes in the last thousand years, there are still pagodas left to be seen more than 2230 pagodas and the base of pagodas approximately 1,800 places. Our first destination is to watch the first light of Bagan city at Shwe Sandaw pagoda, a pagoda that enshrined the hair relics of Lord Buddha.
We reach the Shwe Sandaw pagoda at around 5:15am. Looking up at the pagoda and we could see the flash light of the camera from other travelers, thus, not to waste anymore time, let's quickly walk up to the steep stairways in the dark. We must hold the handrail to carefully climb up the stairs to the tower's top. I could feel the smell of rust from the handrail on my hand which turning out that the rust also attached to my hand as well. Fortunately, I still keep the refreshing towel from the bus service with me to wipe my hands with; nonetheless, it is not clean enough anyway. In the meantime, I could not wait as the sun is almost rising. Therefore, I hurry and arrange to set up my camera tripod to take the picture of the surrounding atmosphere of the sea of pagodas in Bagan, as I intend.
The sky begins to light up, but the first light still does not appear yet. Today, we do not have any luck. It is pretty cloudy and that would make a lot of obstacles to take a first light picture. Now, I only have to accept my faith.
All the area looks extremely spectacular.
Too bad, there are lots of cloud today.
Around 6:30 in the morning, I have waited for this time to arrive. The sun begins to emerge from the cloud a little bit.
Even though there are not enough first light to pierce from the clouds, the golden light that shines on the pagodas which surrounded by a thin mist, it's stunningly beautiful. I use this time wisely pressing the shutter non-stop as I try to take the picture as much as possible. However, I think the picture could not compare with the real scene that I have witnessed with my eyes.
Very beautiful scenery.
I indulge myself in this spectacular atmosphere on the pagoda for a while. Then I saw a group of 10 balloons slowly floated up from the ground, through the bushes and sea of pagodas. It also looks magnificence in a different way.
Up on the air by the balloons, it is another alternative way for the rich ones. As going up on the balloon, you have to pay almost half of ten thousand.
As a result, I choose to watch the scenery here as I do not want to waste my money.
The balloon will not fly near the pagodas, only fly in the backside.
After content ourselves with the beautiful scenery of the sea of pagodas, we went back to the hotel to wash up and have some food.
Before back to the hotel, we pass the morning market, therefore, we stop by to watch local people's way of life during the morning time.
They still used the old balance scales to do the measurement.
After we are done with the meal, we start the pagodas tour in Bagan. Visitor admission package is 10USD for five days visit in Bagan. The city is divided into three parts: Yong Woo, old town Bagan and New Bagan.
Old town Bagan has the pagoda and historic site attractions; as for the New Bagan will be the new city, there are airport, railway station, bus and pier located here. Our second destination of the day is “Ananda's Temple"
Outside the temple, the outer area is very spacious. Since in order to visit the temple in Myanmar, you must take off the shoes and socks, thus, you have to be careful for fragments of small stones when walking around the temple. I have stepped on the thorn and got hurt as well as another lady in the team, she steps on a small stone and get an injure. She had to walk with an injure foot throughout the nine-day trip.
At the outside, there is a lion statue with one head in two bodies, like a lion twin sharing one head.
We could walk into the Ananda Temple, the structure of the pagoda is in a square shape with porch in 4 directions. The entrance is the curved door and some door-lintel still has the mural on it.
All four directions are enshrined with the standing Buddha images which were carved from wood, covered with gold-leaf and all are 9.5-meter high. Four Buddha images consist of; the north: Kakusandha Buddha, West: Gautama Buddha (new) along side with the statue of Shin Arahan monk. Shin Arahan is the monk who introduces Buddhism to Bagan, East: Konagum Buddha (new), the present figure is created to replace to the old one which was stolen (Some would say that the old one was burnt) and the last one is the Geshib Buddha which is situated on the south, this Buddha figure is one of two Buddha images which is the original figures from the past.
The Geshib Buddha image is more significant from the others that is when we stand near the Buddha image, the face of the Buddha image will look calm.
However, when we walk away from the Buddha image, the calming face will become a smiling face. It is the intelligent of its creator to design the Buddha image by playing with the light. When you are in different position, you will see the expression of Buddha image differently. In this temple, there is another interesting thing that is the large wooden door which is built by King Bayinnaung and it is only a single door here.
The third destination is the Htilominlo Temple
The Htilominlo Temple is the place that situated the Htilominlo pagoda and has been built in the reign of King Nandaungmya. The Pagoda is about 46 meters high and it is a three-story red brick building. This Pagoda had a story that when the Bagan King is sick and then there is one consort looks after him. The King promised his consort that when the time comes to select the crown prince, the King will take her son to be considered as well.
However according to the tradition, the son of the queen had to be the next king. Nevertheless, the King must not lie to his word, therefore, he uses a white umbrella to divine the selection of the heir at this place. Fortunately, the white umbrella tilts in the position of the consort's son. As a result, the son of that consort become the next King, and he was called "King of the erected white umbrella". Later, the king built up this pagoda in memory of the selection. This pagoda has a big influence on many temples and pagodas in Lanna area of Thailand for example Wat Jet Yod in Chiang Mai which has such a beautiful style of decoration.
The beautiful mural in the temple.
The head of Buddha image is very different from our country
When walking into the temple area but not into the temple just yet, walk to the right side of the temple first, you will see the arch and then if you walk through it, you will see the small rectangular hall. At this point, we can walk up to see the whole view of Htilominlo temple. Actually, you do not have to scare of getting lost at all because all the merchants would tried to convince you to walk up to watch the view above and they will follow you closely. However, they also kindly tell the direction to the way up to me as well, as at first I could not find the way up because the stairs are hard to be found somehow.The purpose of the merchants in following the tourist is to sell their souvenir, as they think that they help leading the way to the scenic point, and in return the tourist should buy their souvenir. Nevertheless, if you guys do not really want to buy the souvenir from them, you need to use your own ability to refuse them. As for me, I just pretend that I didn't know about the souvenir and walk away.
Our fourth destination is the Upalithein Temple, the word "Upali" means a monk in the reign of King Nunduangmya and the term "Thein" means temple. The combination of two words refers to the temple for the Upali. The structure of the temple is in a rectangular shape building. There is the small bell-shaped pagoda decorated above on the middle of the temple's roof. Inside the temple is situated the Buddha image in the attitude of subduing Mara. The walls and ceiling are decorated with spectacular mural paintings which are created to tell the story of the past 27 Lord Buddha which also includes the story of Gautama Buddha, the present Buddha.
Nowadays, this temple is considered to have the best mural painting in Bagan. The space inside the temple is not very big and will be supervised by the guard as taking photo is not allowed inside.
The fifth destination is the Shwezigon Pagoda, which is one of five most sacred places to worship in Myanmar.
The Shwezigon pagoda, the word "Shwe" means gold and "Zigon" means victory, therefore, "Shwezigon" refers to a golden victory. In architecture Shwezigon pagoda is a prototype of Burmese pagoda. The pagoda is very important as it is the first pagoda that was built in Bagan dynasty by King Anawrahta who is the founder of Bagan dynasty.
This pagoda represents a major victory over the Mon. Inside the pagoda is enshrined three parts of the sacred relics of Lord Buddha : the replica of the tooth, shoulder bone relics and forehead relics. Burmese people believes that there are nine wonders that happen at this pagoda which are:
1. Although the tip of the pagoda is very high, it has no iron buttresses.
2. The shadow of the pagoda never fall outside its square plinth. If the shadow cross outside its plinth, it is considered as the bad omen.
3. Although papers holding gold leaves are dropped from the tip of the pagoda, they never land outside its plinth.
4. Despite of any number of pilgrims, the precinct of pagoda could accommodate them all.
5. Despite how early morning, there is the steamed rice offering to the monk.
6. Despite how loud of the beating sound of the drum, it cannot be heard on the other side of the pagoda.
7. Although the pagoda is located on the flat ground but the pagoda gives you an illusion of it being on a ridge.
8. Regardless of heavy rainfall, no water remains in its compound,
9. The bullet wood flowers in the precinct bloom all the year round.
As far as I walk and explore these nine amazing things, the only thing I could see is that the bullet wood flower bloom all year round. Apart of this, I do not know how to prove.
There is the stone slab that has the circular indention in it and it is located at around the base of pagoda. It is the balance point for the technician to look at the tip of the pagoda and calculate whether the pagoda is in the balance or not. Legend says that some of the pagodas are very high, therefore, this hole that filled of water is made for the King, when the King comes to practice the charity, then he could clearly see the reflection of the tip of the pagoda in it . The hole has a diameter of only 3 inches, so if you stand and watch the reflection, you could not see the reflection of the whole pagoda, however, if you kneel down and bow reverently then a reflection of the pagoda will appear clearer. As I watch, however, I do not know how to look for the balance of the pagoda and where is the reference point, what I could see is that the clearly reflection of the pagoda showing inside the hole.
Kanthaka is the horse of the Lord Buddha. The legend says that at the late night the locals heard the horse running sound, therefore, they built the shed for the horse.
This old lady has become a model for the book "60 temples, palaces and attractions in Myanmar- Volume 2" by Popphol Chanwatanakul. When I saw her in the book, I was not sure whether it was her or not. Thus, I give her the book to ask that if the lady in the book is her or not, then she confirmed by pointing at herself, therefore, I buy one of the flower she sells and take some pictures of her as well.
Since I have to walk barefoot in many temples during the morning and the area is very wide. Moreover, some floors are not an even ground as if I walk on the rocks, hence, I felt pain all over my feet. I was a bit lucky that I hurt only one foot, if both sides are hurt, I could not even walk. The more wider of the area inside the Shwezigon Pagoda, the more pain that my feet will have to suffer.
Our sixth destination is Sulamani Temple.
Sulamani Temple is referred to as “Crowning Jewel or Small Ruby" or means the best of jewelry. This temple has a distinctive architectural style; it's a blending style of Thatbyinnyu Phaya Temple and Dhammayangyi Temple. The temple has two floors which is located on a wide base. It looks like a pyramid with a small pagodas located at each corner of each layer acting as the follower of the principal tip of pagoda.
The temple outside has been built of brick which is regarded as one of the most beautiful temples in Bagan.
There are the materials which are similar to the tile using for decorating the temple as well. Currently, it is still left to be seen but anyway some of it has ruined as well.
The arch is carved delicately and beautifully.
Inside the temple, there are the murals which are still intact and stunning.
The pattern looks very antique.
This picture looks spectacular.
The ancient pattern of the murals.
I noticed that the Buddha images have been enshrined on most of the doors. Since inside the temple is quite dark, every time that the light shines in to the doorway, the Buddha images would look very much outstanding.
During the afternoon, it gets even hotter and makes us even more tired. I had to sit and take a rest under the tree next to the pagoda. After take a rest for a while, I feel so sleepy that might be because of the tiredness from the trip and don't have enough rest. Moreover, we start our journey very early to visit the pagodas. Anyway, I must find a way to recover my body by taking a quick view of all the vendors who sold souvenirs to tourists at the temple's entrance. The product is a kind of handmade crafts for the most part such as a doll, paintings, shirts, hats and other souvenirs.
After taking some rest, we continue heading to our seventh destination, Dhammayangyi Temple, which is the largest temple of Bagan Kingdom.
It is said that all pagodas in Bagan Empire are created with the willing and the pure faith of the villagers. The only exception is Dhammayangyi Pagoda, it was built by King Narathu who was very cruel because the king has killed his father and his brother for the throne.
However, later the King feel remorse, therefore, he would like to create the largest and the most beautiful pagoda in Bagan Kingdom for redeem his sin.
I think it's alright to call this pagoda as "The pagoda for redeeming the sin".
In addition, he also killed his wife who is the Princess of Lanka. At last, King Narathu was only four years in his throne and he was killed by the father of his wife who had sent the soldier from Sri Lanka to assassinate him.
Inside the temple, if you take a closely look of the lined brick here, you could notice that it is truly about what they said that even the needle could not be inserted in the joints of each brick. The legend says that if the craftsmen did not neatly and tightly line the brick and one needle could be inserted into the joints, the King Narathu will cut their hands immediately.
There are two large rectangular stones inside the pagoda which are assumed to be the stone for cutting the hand of the craftsmen who did not tightly and neatly line the stone. From the observation, the stone is carved to have the deep hole on it and when put the hand down on the hole, the hand will perfectly fit to the hole and they will use the knife to cut it.
Dhammayangyi Pagoda is the biggest pagoda in Bagan empire, nevertheless, it is an unfinished pagoda and the people hardly come to worship this pagoda until today.
On the way to Pyathatgyi temple, I saw the goatherd was herding the goats to eat grass, thus, I take some of the pictures.
Our eight destination which is also the last program of the day has come. It is like a compulsory activity for all visitors to wait for watching the sunset amongst more than 4,000 pagodas. It is said that the pagodas in Bagan were built with pure faith. Bagan people believes that pagoda is considered as the symbol that represents Lord Buddha. Bagan people help each other in building countless pagoda, this can declare that Bagan is the land of Buddhism.
I would recommended two places for watching the sunset scenery which are Pyathatgyi temple and Dhamma Ya Zi Ka monastery. I happen to have two nights stay at Bagan, therefore, I am able to choose to watch the sunset from both places. And today, I will choose to visit Pyathatgyi temple.
I arrive at Pyathatgyi temple since half past four in the evening. Therefore, we still have time left that I could take some time to sit and relax. During this time, there are almost no tourists here. Thus, I do have a lot of time to find a nice location to take photo of the last light.
Finally, we find the perfect location, I then immediately reserve the area.
From the top of Pyathatgyi temple looking outward, you could see the Bagan area is relatively dry, the soil is kind of a sandy soil. Some believe that all the trees in Bagan had been cut to burn the brick for building more than 4,000 pagodas as you have seen. However, some also disagree that Bagan's drought like this since the beginning because the farmland are arranged to be at the outside of the city with the well-prepared irrigation system there.
To visit the temples in Bagan, if you would like to feel the local atmosphere you have to try the ox-cart ride.
For a little while some merchants come and sell the goods around the scenic point.
Close to the sunset time, there are lots of visitors come to this scenic point. Nonetheless, it looks like the weather is disapproving as the sky is unclear today.
However, I still have some luck as the sun that is moving low has shined its light through the clouds. The scene of the beaming light shines over the pagodas in front of my sight is captured my mind. I then press the shutter non-stop to take the photo of this pleasant moment. However, the picture is not as beautiful as what I have witnessed by my own eyes. And it appears to be only one scene that impressed me during this evening as apart of this beaming light, there is no sunset scene or the last light of the day appear to be seen.
Well, it's alright as I still have one more day in Bagan. After dinner, I hurried to my room to take some rest as I don't have enough sleep for almost two days and one night. I stay at Arthawka Hotel tonight, the accommodation costs 2300 bath per night approximately.
On the morning of our third day, I don't have any plan to watch the first light of the day; therefore, I could wake up late in the morning.
However, when I wake up, I feel kind of regret that I didn't go out as today the sky is open with a bright deep blue color and without cloud. Our destination for today's plan, we will visit Dhamma Ya Zi Ka Monastery which is the place that we intend to watch the sunset scenery today as well. This monastery is not far from our accommodation so that we would like to survey the area before whether it suits to watch the sunset scenery here or not. If we think this place is not appropriate, we will ride on the boat along Irrawaddy River to view the sun set down in the water instead. At last, we decide to watch the sunset scenery at this monastery.
Dhamma Ya Zi Ka Pagoda is the only one pagoda in Bagan city that has a pentagon base shape. Inside the pagoda was enshrined the Buddha relics which have received from King of Sri Lanka. This pagoda also has the Buddha images that represent the whole 5 Avatars of Lord Buddha in the present kalpa (kalpa or bhadrakalpa means auspicious aeon) which are Kakusandha (The Buddha of the past), Konakamuni (The Buddha of the past), Kassapa (The Buddha of the past), Gautama (The Buddha of the present), Maitreya (The Buddha of the future). The base of pagoda is built of brick and the pagoda itself is decorated with gold color; however, since the renovation of the pagoda has been long time ago, making some of the gold color fades away.
There are the stairways in four directions to walk up to the above; however, the stairways are somehow narrow and steep. Thus, for those who would like to walk up to the above area, you have to watch your step carefully. The scenery at the above area is illustrated as in the picture.
You can sightsee all the directions.
In the past, there was a person who captured a picture of the pagoda with the spirit of the ancient warrior inside, General Khin Nyunt who used to renovate this pagoda. For those who would like to witness the picture, you could walk to the left side of the pagoda; there is one small pavilion that kept this picture inside.
Upon turning my head, I found the sea of pagodas reflect in Miss Tan's glasses.
As soon as we leave Dhamma Ya Zi Ka Pagoda, we straightly head to our second destination, Loka Nanda Pagoda.
From the parking lot, we need to walk up a bit to go to the above area of the pagoda. Unfortunately, during our visit, the pagoda is under renovation. They use the material made from the bamboo, have them weave into plates and use them to enclose the pagoda which similar to shading net in our country. I am not sure that the reason why they don't use shading net here is because the price of shading net is expensive or they would like to conserve by using the natural product. At the foot of the stairway area, there are some of the merchants selling things; one thing that captures my eye is Tod Man Goong (Deep Fried Shrimp Cake), I would like to try but don't dare to. LoL.
Loka Nanda Pagoda is constructed by King Anawrahta. The pagoda inside has enshrined the imitation of the teeth relics of Lord Buddha similar to Shwe Zi gon Pagoda. The pagoda shape seems like bottle gourd and it is located near Irradwaddy River. The legend has it that due to the prosperity of the trade of Bagan Kingdom in the past, a lot of merchants from other regions ride the boats and do the trading here for example the merchants from Mon, Rakhine, Lanka, etc. These merchants will regard the pagoda for their landmark point that whenever they see the bright gold color of Loka Nanda Pagoda, it means they already arrived at Bagan city.
During the time I visited, the water in Irrawaddy River is quit low.
After that, we travel to our third destination, Manuha Temple. On the way, I have seen the public bus which are crowded by many monks and novices. I somehow feel frightened in seeing such a packed bus.
Nearly 5000 years ago, one part of this land has belonged to Mon people; however, when Bagan Kingdom is originated, the first King of Bagan Kingdom has leaded the army to hit the capital city of Mon people to ruins. The excuse to start the war is to bring the Tripitaka to store in Bagan Kindom. Later, King Manuha (King of Mon) and his queen were held captive in the south of Bagan Kingdom. At that place, King of Bagan has permitted King of Mon to construct the temple for practicing virtue and the said temple is Manuha Temple in the present.
The King of Mon has used this chance to express his displeasure during captivity by constructing the huge Buddha image in the attitude of subduing Mara which close-fitting inside the temple area for spite King of Bagan. The Buddha image has later been called “Buddha Image that represents the displeasure of captive King" until this day.
Alongside with Buddhist disciple images which were constructed in the same huge close-fitting size; every part of the Buddha image was built too large for its enclosure. By looking at the sight, I somehow feel oppressed, even though I have a small body shape,I couldn't even walk through the gap between Buddha image and the temple's wall.
At the back of the temple, there is another attitude of the Buddha image which is reclining Buddha image in the attitude of Nirvana. The Buddha image's hand lies flat on the floor which is different from the ordinary reclining Buddha image in that normally the hand doesn't lie flat on the floor. Consequently, it is interpreted that this kind of reclining Buddha image is in the attitude of entering Nirvana, and with a smile on its face, it is believed that King Manuha tries to convey that only death was a release from his suffering.
Beside Manuha Temple, there is the building that housed the monument of King Manuha and his queen who were imprisoned here together.
And when walking passes Manuha Temple a little further, we will reach our fourth destination, Nanpaya Temple.
Nowadays, the structure of the temple is subsided a bit as there is the steel structure inside for help supporting the temple.
Nanpaya Temple, according to the legend, was built to be the residence of King Manuha while he was imprisoned at Bagan Kingdom. However, there is other argument states that this shrine initially was a religious monastery as inside the shrine has the altar for housing the sacred figures. Although nowadays, there is nothing on the altar, but looking from the size of it, it is appropriate to situate the standing Buddha image in Bagan style. One prominent point of this temple is the four huge square shape stone pillars which are the main structure that support the upper part of this sanctuary. The pillars have the bas-relief intricate carvings of four-faced portrait who sit on the lotus base with his hand holding the lotus as well. Therefore, it is interpreted that this portrait is Brahma, the Hindu god of creation and Nanpaya Temple would be in the figure of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara or Bodhisattva Samantabhadra ( Bodhisattva who has faces in all sides like the Bodhisattva image at Bayon Palace in Cambodia).
Our fifth destination is at Mya Zedi Temple.
Mya Zedi Temple is constructed by King Kyansithar's son, Prince Rajakumar. There are the stone inscriptions telling the story of the prince's father inscribed in 4 languages which are Burmese, Mon, Pyu and Pali.
The principal Buddha image in the Mya Zedi Temple.
Beside the pagoda, there are many shops located here and some of the merchants here can speak Thai as well. There is one merchant who selling preserved tamarind, he is busy in making preserved tamarind and then he greets us with English language, we unconsciously speak out Thai language with him. Surprisingly, he says he can speak Thai a little and he lets us try his preserved tamarind. In that moment, one of our friends in the team is walking by and tries that preserved tamarind. With not knowing that the merchant could understand Thai language, my friend says “It tastes bad", the merchant hears so and feels disheartened. I then whisper to my friend that the merchant could understand Thai and by knowing this, we buy a little of his preserved tamarind and leave the shop at once. Travelling in neighbor countries, we need to careful our words as many people also understand Thai language.
Adjacent to the Mya Zedi Temple is our sixth destination, Gu Byauk Gyi Temple.
Gu Byauk Gyi Temple was designed to have the outside light shines on the Buddha image, making it seems spectacular. This place is regarded to have the finest murals as it is the place that still has the largest number of the murals in early period left to be seen in Bagan. They are the murals of 28 Lord Buddha. Taking photo is prohibited inside the sanctuary.
Our seventh destination is Mingala Zedi.
The word “Mingala Zedi" means “Blessing Stupa". The pagoda was situated in the south part of old Bagan Kingdom. It is categorized in the type of glazed brick pagoda or stupa. The pagoda is located on the square terraces which are decorated with glazed plaques depicting the Jataka tales. The middle part of each side has the stairways that lead to the upper floors.
There are large pot-shaped stupas located at the four corners of each terrace. King Narathihapati was the one who constructed this pagoda. It took six whole years to complete the construction of this great pagoda. The King intended to construct this pagoda to be as great as Swezigon Pagoda, therefore, he orders two soldiers to measure the real proportion of Swezigon Pagoda which making both pagodas have a difference in only the size of the bricks that using for construction.
The legend says that in the time that the pagoda had been under constructing, there is foretell states that by the time of this pagoda is finished constructing, Bagan Kingdom will come to an end. King Narathihapati heard about this foretell and he feels frightened; therefore, he stops the construction of this pagoda at once.
Several years later, there is the criticism blaming the defect of King Narathihapati in that he is the King of great Bagan Kingdom so why he has to scare the foretell and desert practicing the virtue in upholding the religion like this. The King heard the criticism and realized that it is true, and then he decided to start the construction of the pagoda once again. Shortly, the pagoda is finished construction.
Less than 10 years after the construction was completed, Mongol armies invaded the kingdom and led to the fall of Bagan Kingdom, the kingdom eventually left deserted. With the reason that King Narathihapati has led the fall to the great Bagan Kingdom, therefore, Mingala Zedi has not been well-restored when comparing with Shwezigon Pagoda. In the past Mingala Zedi has been used as the Buddhism study place and there is a large number of Buddhist monks stay here.
The elaborate decorative design on the pagoda.
When walk up to the upper floor of the pagoda, you could sightsee the scenery in the above aspect as well.
During the time, the upper floor has been under renovation, thus, the floor is full of scrap mortar and wood which making the barefoot walking is rather difficult, and my foot got hurt and feel like burning.
I stop by at Gee Gee restaurant for lunch. The restaurant has been spoke about in Lonely Planet. It recommends that the place is a restaurant that selling the local food which the tourist shouldn't miss out.
Firstly, I saw the condition of the restaurant, I somehow feel frightened.by what I have seen. However, after I have tried the taste of the food, I think is considerably alright. The restaurant also has the river prawn with the reasonable price and they also serve free dessert which is small cubes of palm sugar.
Our eighth destination is Pitaka Taik, it is the place where Tripitaka of
Mon is kept. Since the weather is rather hot and the entrance area of Pitaka
Taik is the overgrown path, therefore, we think we might hurt our feet if we
walk barefoot into the place, so we just take the photo only the outside of
Then we head to our ninth destination, Thatpyinnyu Temple.
Thatpyinnyu Temple is the place for storing Tripitaka; therefore, it is also called “Pagoda of omniscience". This pagoda is the tallest structure in Bagan with 61 meters high. It is considered to be the model of Burmese architecture style. Built by King Alongsithu, the pagoda is in Pala art style of India and has a similar shape with Ananda Pagoda except that the plan of the pagoda is not in symmetrical cross shape. Thatpyinnyu Temple has 5-story in total. The two primary floors are the residence of the monks, the third floor is situated the Buddha image, the fourth floor is the Tripitaka hall and the tip of the pagoda is enshrined the sacred relics of Lord Buddha. Formerly, the top area of the pagoda used to be one of the scenic points that the tourist could walk up and watch the most beautiful scenery of the sea of pagoda. However, after there is the cracking trace around the area, it is not permitted the tourist to go up anymore. Since this sanctuary has a huge tall in size; therefore, it is not strange that we could find the pagoda appears in the postcard that was sold in every shop.
From my observation, most of the monasteries in Bagan will have the Buddha image situated at the doors in all 4 directions. When we walk around the temple, we will find the Buddha image in all 4 directions which are north, south, east and west. It comes from the belief that the 4 Avatars of Lord Buddha of the present kalpa (or in this world) were already born, but the Lord Buddha that has not yet born is Maitreya (The Buddha of the future), and the north part is situated the Buddha of the present.
Next to Thatpyinnyu Temple is our tenth destination, Nath Laung Kyaung Temple.
Nath Laung Kyaung Temple is regarded as only one great Hindu shrine in Bagan Kingdom. The shrine has a small size and it is believed that it was built by King Taunghthugyi for dedicating to the Hindu god Vishnu before Theravada Buddhism came to Bagan. Formerly, there is Vishnu sculpture seating on Garuda that is situated in the worship hall, however, nowadays this sculpture become the property of Dahlem museum in Berlin.
And our eleventh destination, Nga Kywe Na Daung Pagoda, is located just beside this temple.
Nga Kywe Na Daung Pagoda is the pagoda with the old shape style in Bagan. Next to the pagoda was lie a pagoda that I have never seen the pagoda in this shape in Bagan before, hence, I could not find the information of this pagoda for you all.
Next to Nga Kywe Na Daung Pagoda is our thirteenth destination, Patelope Temple.
Inside Patelope Temple is rather dark, when walking inside, you will find
the huge Buddha image. I tried to search for the information of this
temple but I have found none. I think this place might be not popular for the
tourist. I then sit and take some rest at this place
I manage to light a candle that bought from Manuha Temple, then hand out to Miss Tan, only one beautiful lady in our team, to act as the model for me. Looking from the back, she seems like Myanmar lady as well.
After that we head to our fourteenth destination, Gawdaw Palin Temple.
Gawdaw Palin Temple is another pagoda that situated close to Irrawaddy River. This pagoda was built by King Narapatisithu by imitating of Thatpyinnyu Pagoda. It is another fine pagoda. Unfortunately, the pagoda has been damaged during the earthquake in 1975. During the end of today's travelling program, my feet continually feel hurt, therefore, I didn't walk much to take much photo of the details.
Our fifteenth destination is Maha Bodhi Zedi.
Maha Bodhi Zedi was built in the reign of King Htilo Minlo, the pagoda was indeed modeled after the famous Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar State, India. It is a corn-cob shape pagoda in Gupta style. The difference that separated Maha Bodhi Zedi in Myanmar from Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya is that the tip of the pagoda in Bagan seems sharper.
The family; father, mother and child looks really happy and caring.
Our last destination, we intend to take a rest at Bupaya Pagoda and capture some photos of the riverside scenery before heading to watch the sunset scenery at Dhamma Ya Zi Ka Monastery. However, it is appeared that Bupaya Pagoda had been under renovating, there is the net made of bamboo material enclosed the pagoda similar to those in Loka Nanda Pagoda. This pagoda has a shape like bottle gourd which is considerably popular in the former period before Bagan Kingdom. Therefore, the pagoda shape like this has been called in another name as “bottle gourd pagoda". The pagoda stands prominent near Irradwaddy River. This area could be another spectacular view point to watch the sunset scenery by having Irradwaddy River as the foreground.
At this time, the atmosphere is not like what I have expected at all as the pagoda is under renovation; therefore, I decided to go back to the hotel for have some rest and wait for the sunset time. During the way back, we stop over to visit one attraction which is our seventeenth destination, Apeyadana Temple. There are ancient paintings kept inside the temple; however, taking photo is not permitted here. At first, I didn't see the signboard as it is in the tiny size and also hanged high on the wall in the dim hall, when I already took the photo, the officer notices me that taking photo is not permitted inside.
Upon leaving Apeyadana Temple, we head straight to the hotel
for taking some rest. And we will end the travelling program in Bagan by
watching the sunset scenery at Dhamma Ya Zi Ka Monastery again.
I arrived there around 5pm in the evening to reserve the good location for taking the photo. When I arrived, I found that the place that I aimed in the morning has been taken by two foreigners, but it's alright as there still some area left for me. During waiting for the sunset, I aimlessly take photo of the surrounding. The sky today is clear and no cloud. However, from my observation, I might have not seen the sun when it has a weak light resembles to the big yolk egg, because the sun definitely might set behind the mountain.
The atmosphere during the evening.
There are a lot of tourists walk up on the pagoda to watch the sunset scenery. Later, when the sun already set, I have captured the twilight scene as in the picture; it is not as beautiful as I expected it to be. Finally, I will end up Bagan trip with fully travelling program at 24 temples; my legs feel quiet tired walk in and out the temple.
Before back to the hotel, I captured the photo of Dhamma
Ya Zi Ka Pagoda during the twilight time a little.
After the last light is gone, we have a dinner and hurriedly back to the hotel for some rest and get ready to fly to Mandalay in the next morning.
Continue following to travel in Mandalay at Myanmar Now or Never#2:Mandalay