Spellbound in Bagan

When you push out the black clouds, there’s only sunshine and clarity. We tend to get stuck on what could have been but we only have today. Live now, focus on today, embrace every moment and you’ll see the future unfold as you hoped it would, eventually.

Pristine. The meaning of this word wasn’t known to me till I visited Bagan. Clean and fresh, as if new; spotless. Yes, that’s how I would describe what I experienced. Two factors contributing to a perfect weekend trip were the beauty of the place and the hospitality of our tour guide.
Bagan is an ancient city and from 9th to 13th centuries, it was the capital of Kingdom of Pagan. As our guide, Min Thant informed us, 11th to 13th centuries was the height of the Kingdom and during this time some 10,000 temples were constructed. As you view the surroundings, there is vast green space spotted with temples all over. I was challenged to count the number of temples by Min but I laughed off the challenge. Some googling reveals there are about 2,200 temples now remaining. The experience of walking around the open space and visiting tiny and big temples was quite interesting. You can even climb the pagodas (Buddhist temples) and sit on the roof and enjoy the view!
Ling’s exceptional photography skills!

The view!!

What I enjoyed most was sitting on top, looking out at the clear sky and wonderful landscape. It was so peaceful, I could feel the spirituality. No drama around rituals, rules and endless queues. It was what you make of it.

I am so glad my friend Ling asked me to join her on this trip!

Watching the sun set from the boat on the Irrawaddy river was another lovely experience. Thankfully the weather was perfect!

For lunch, we had a sumptuous meal at a very reasonable price. The best part for me were the veggies- brinjal and ladyfinger- made in Indian style! Really made me super happy.

We also visited a cute roadside shack on way to Mount Popa. This shack had utilized the palm tree to the maximum possible- thatched with leaves from the tree with all furniture made from the leaves and trunk. They were making palm sugar and palm wine (toddy or htan ye) in this settlement. I got super excited watching the distillation right in front of me. We took shots of the toddy- it tasted like baijiu (Chinese rice wine). Not at all happy about the taste but the potency was great! There was also a lighter version which they called palm “beer” but that wasn’t as fun as the palm wine 😀

Majestic Pagoda and I!

We really enjoyed the view at Taung Kalat- a volcanic plug near Mount Popa (extinct volcano). I have learnt that a volcanic plug is a lava neck which is created when lava from an existing volcano hardens and the surrounding sediment is eroded away. Interesting to see a Buddhist monastery at the top of Taung Kalat. The walk up to the monastery was fun- couple of stairs and a lot of monkeys! There were volunteers cleaning the stairs and honestly it was very well maintained.

A good deal of China immersion for me- Ling, Cheung Long and Damon were a fun bunch of people! It was great that I have a Chinese name (可) and very basic Mandarin skills. I thoroughly enjoyed their company with some pineapple pen jokes, perfect photo sessions and nice drinking games.     
Time for selfie on top of the Pagoda
Welcome to Bagan 🙂

The rawness of the place cannot be explained in words. It is truly untouched and non-commercialised at this stage. But till when it will remain like this, one cannot say. Also, Min shared with us that his village does not have electricity (84% of households in rural Myanmar have no electricity access), but they have mobile phones. They travel 20 minutes to go charge their phones. Very very interesting. This is where lies Myanmar’s opportunity. I advised him to use his knowledge and skills as a guide to keep track of the changing tourist market and grab bigger opportunities to grow. Not in these words though but I became an immediate consultant evaluating his client emails 😀 The business person in me saw a lot of potential. 

Loved my visit and hope to come back to the famous hot air balloon ride over the town!
Riverside views
Say hello to Min


The palm trees
Freshly distilled palm alcohol
We all in the cute shack made out of various parts of the palm tree


Mount Popa
The gang at the Monastery- note the traditional attire! (Longyis)



6 thoughts on “Spellbound in Bagan

  1. Kritika says:

    Hello Prerna! Thank you so much for the love 🙂 I am so glad to know that you enjoyed reading the intricate details and almost experience being there – that is a huge compliment! Thanks for the appreciation 😀


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