Walk, Scoot, Gawp; or, the Bagan Templesplosion

Pagoda by Night

Bagan. There are pagodas there!

The sun rose in Bagan, as it often did, over a sea of ancient spikes.

I had only a faint inkling of quite how large this sea would be as our night bus pulled up to the bus station. After attempted fleecings by the attendant taxi drivers, we piled into a cab and took the long road into old Bagan, grumpy and only half-rested and feeling curmudgeonly about the price of our ride. We were prepared, as one often is on the road, to let the petty things dampen our mood.

Bagan quickly stamped on this impulse, as prickly temples and jagged pagodas soon sprouted from the ground all along the roadside. Holy places were thick as tumbleweed here, brick and mortar and metal and stone jutting everywhere into tiny and enormous structures. Along the roadside, like fireworks stands or ragged old taquerias, were dozens of spires aimed skyward.

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Myanmar Photoglut Pt II: On Temples and Gastrointestinal Distress

Myanmar II Cover
After the glorious weirdness of Dalla and the delights of Yangon, we took, as all traveller in Burma must, the long road up to Bagan. Being the sometimes ignorant turd that I am, I knew little of the area except that it was full of temples, and possibly a lot of them. In Southeast Asia or India I had some inkling of history, connections to local religious beliefs and a sense of cultures, while Burma existed outside of my cultural awareness bubble. We slid off of the long overnight bus into the wilds of the archaeological zone and were left to fend for ourselves amid the prickly brick pagodas piercing the endless, scalding sky.

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