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There’s a poem developing about our return trip to Bago today. It will have to wait though as I’m too tired to do anything but post photographs. We took pot luck on departure times and wandered around a bit before boarding the 11.00 am train. It was a two hour ride, with a whistle-stop pillion-riding tour of the major sites in Bago before heading back to the station to buy a ticket for the 3.15 pm train to Yangon.

No seats! Our motorcycle driver took us to a local cafe for cold drinks and samosas while he negotiated a taxi ride for us to get back to the city.

Bananas for sale - YangonYangon Railway Station - waiting roomWaiting for the train to leave - Yangon to BagoBoy selling apples and oranges

Yangon to Bago train - sleeping

Station stop - Kyauk Tan on the way to Bago

Bago railway station - food trader

Bago - negotiating a taxi ride to Yangon

A drive up to Mt Popa provides some perspective on the countryside surrounding Bagan. The landscape is no less arid. Brahman cattle and goats are the only stock visible. You wonder how they manage water supplies here until you see an abundance of large ceramic storage pots. Eroded water courses look ready to receive the rains when they come, and will no doubt lose more soil come June.

As you approach the top of the range, you begin to see the rich red volcanic soils. Bananas, mangoes, flowers and other nursery products seem to thrive here. Mt Popa (a volcanic plug) holds significance to the Buddhist community as a home to spirit beings or nats. A shrine on top of the mountain can be reached via 770 covered stairs.

I stopped at a half-way drinks station and sat near a woman who had also opted not to complete the climb. Together we watched the looks of climbers as they caught sight of the next steep leg ahead. It’s hard work even without the heat.

The women of Burma have black hair, usually long and straight. I guess it’s unusual to see someone with short gray hair. That can be the only explanation for me appearing in many photographs with local people as I sat there, bemused and contemplating the number of steps down to the bottom.

As I write this back in Nyaung U, it’s 4.00 pm and some clouds are gathering. A 30% chance of a storm is forecast in the next couple of hours. If only.

Mt Popa summit - 7 May 2015Mt Popa - long walk upMt Popa - drinks station on the way up

 

Mt Popa - Monkey and babyMt Popa - Mother, child, Buddhaentry point - Mt Popa temple stepsMt Popa - loading the truck

We visited a dozen temples around Bagan on a day when the thermometer reached 43 degrees C. Everywhere you look in this region, there’s a pagoda to be seen. The interiors provided some level of comfort from the heat, with the occasional breeze wafting through some corridors.

The people selling local crafts, drinks and mangoes were doing it tough today. Rob bought two mangoes and delighted the women by borrowing their knife and demonstrating the easy way to cut and eat the flesh (with a blunt knife). They declared it ‘very clever’.

A few of the temples didn’t allow inside photography. It was almost impossible to make out the frescoes at Gubyaukgyi. As I was leaving, an elderly woman, whose face was richly adorned with thanaka paste, insisted I go back in. Some local people had arrived and a guide had activated the lighting system. Think light globe on a selfie stick, only with a very, very long cord.

The paths to the temples were so hot today, people were running to get to a cool spot to land their bare feet.

I’ve pared down the photographs to give you some idea of the diversity of temples, architectural styles and decoration.

 

Shwezigon Pagoda

Shwezigon Paya - zedi

Shwezigon Paya - zedi and tree decorShwezigon Paya - tree decoration detail

Pyat Thut Gi

Pyat Gi Thut exterior

Sulamani Pahto (my favourite, largely because of the detailed frescos and decorations)

Sulamani Pahto - entranceSulamani Pahto - exterior detailSulamani Pahto - vaulted ceiling detailSulamani Pahto - fresco 2Sulamani Pahto - interior frescoSulamani Pahto - fresco 4Sulamani Pahto - pedastal detailSulamani Pahto - fresco 3

Dhammayangyi Pahto

Dhammayangyi Pahto - exterior

Dhammayangyi Pahto - Sleeping BuddhaDhammayangyi Pahto - marionettes for sale

Ananda Pahto (under considerable restoration)

Ananda Pahto - exterior - stupaAnanda Pahto - grounds - restorationAnanda Pahto - restoration work

Ananda Pahto - scaffold around Buddha

Lunch at Moon Restaurant (Be Kind to Animals) – a cool spot to rehydrate.

Moon Restaurant - garden parasols

Than Daw Ga Pagoda

ThanDawGa Pagoda - Buddha - lava stone - earthquake restoration

Nagayon Pagoda

Nagayon Temple 2Nagayon Temple