Bagan, plane of endless temples; it is Myanmar’s transcendent cultural icon. It’s the Cristo Redentor of Brazil, the Angkor Wat of Cambodia, y’all it’s the freaking Statue of Liberty 🗽! Along with any location given cultural icon status, Bagan caters to hordes of tourists, of which I reluctantly accept membership. Nothing like standing on top of a temple meditatively watching the sun set across a beautiful temple plateau dotted with 475 people taking selfies. Luckily, Katie and I live here and were able to travel to the desert plateau in monsoon season, when we had the dual benefit of having many of the temples to ourselves and stunning greenery infiltrating the normally brown landscape. Without further ado, photos from three days of pedaling around Myanmar’s ancient and revered temple plateau.
When the wonder of Bagan’s pagodas wore off, we caught a car to nearby Mount Popa. Popa is one of the most important and revered sites for Nat (Myanmar Spirit) worship.
Mount Popa’s Nat pantheon
While I normally don’t tend to enjoy conventional tourist sites, Bagan is an exception. If Bagan were in the West, I’m sure there would be several restricted zones, fixed hand rails, paved roads and other conveniences that would preserve the site and make things easier and safer for visitors. But being Myanmar, there remains a raw, wild feeling to Bagan that reflects what some of us love about greater Myanmar: Getting dirt under our fingernails while climbing up the steep staircase of some ancient ziggurat offers a sense of escape from the sanitized life of seat belts, guard rails, and general safety guidelines, that are so good at both restricting and protecting us.