A Tour of Bagan, “lost” city of Myanmar

The country of Myanmar, or Burma as the British called it, has been in the news for political reasons, but most people don’t know anything about its splendid cultural heritage. We went there when it was controversial to visit because some people viewed tourism as a support to the military dictatorship. In reality, tourism was and still is a way for ordinary people to make a living and their exposure to the “west” can only help.

Bagan is an ancient city (located in the center of the country) which is both changed and unchanged from its golden past. If you have a good imagination, Bagan is more interesting than a tour of palaces and temples that still have their golden domes. Take a walk with me through the fields and enjoy! I’m also including some sketches and a few etchings from the site. At the end of the blog, I’ll show you a few temples that don’t need your brain to finish the picture.

Please leave a comment. It gets lonely here!

Above is the overview of one area of Bagan.

And below, the sketch:

Most of the temples are brick with stone carvings and some have been plastered and painted white. We were told some contain jewels. The golden domes are long gone!

There I am, before climbing to the top. Fortunately, I’m wearing shoes. This wasn’t to last. In Myanmar, you can’t go into any temple or even the courtyard wearing shoes OR socks. I was there in winter and the temperature was in the 50s. Because I’m a wimp, I cut out moleskin and stuck the pieces on the soles of my feet. It was still cold!!!

The next photo gives you an idea of the countryside around Bagan. There is only one small town nearby.

Now for a ride to Yangon. Here’s one that’s all shiny and bustling with people.

The woman is pouring holy water on the head of the statue. This will grant her wishes or give her good luck. It’s also good luck to rub your hand on one of the many designated statues around the country and it’s said to be even better to buy a piece of gold leaf (thinner than normal paper) and transfer this on to a shrine.

Here’s an etching. Do you recognize anything? There are real gems and that’s real gold you’re looking at. Lots of bling, eh?

I have more photos to share, some of the more mundane aspects of life in Myanmar, but I will save those for another time.

Check out my website or better yet, my mystery novels, Deadly Traffic and School of Lies.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “A Tour of Bagan, “lost” city of Myanmar

  1. You have seen such wondrous places! I love your art/travel blogs — they show me parts of the world in ways that make it come alive.

  2. Beautiful artwork, Mickey–and these are definitely “the road less traveled” places to visit. Loved the pictures of the slumping stupas(?) slowly reincorporating themselves with the earth.

  3. Stunning architecture, and your photos and sketches of them. Why did they change the name of Burma? I had to chuckle about your 50 degree comment. We’re having a warm spell here in MN–it’s been getting up into the 50s this week. But this am, it was 40 something and a man and his son were out in short sleeve shirts. Then later, I saw people in shorts and flip flops.

    • Glad you like the visuals. Not sure why they changed the name but probably because Burma is a mishmash the British made of the word in Burmese, the way the British changed Guang Dong into Canton in China. I don’t feel warm at any temperature under 75 although growing up in Chicago it seemed tropical if the temperature hit 45 during the winter. Many locals in Burma were shivering because they wore layers but all of it was thin cotton clothing. I felt so bad for one of our guides when we left I gave away some of my Patagonia layers!

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