24th Oct – FLY TO BAGAN (PAGAN)

The bartering began at Nyaing U market which was our first stop on the way to Bagan Thande Hotel. As we drew up the bus was soon surrounded by people with something to sell, accordion pleats of postcards and the urgent pleading of those who know the window of opportunity is short until the next bus comes along.  Making our way past them with smiles and the repetition of our newly acquired Myanmar, “Maloboo Jezebeh” (No thank you) we plunged into the throng of market stalls where mounds of avocados, apples and oranges were plentiful amongst the pots and pans of every day and, for us, the visitors, stalls where local crafts were offered. The painted stringed horses and elephants hanging on display, carved animals and heads, knives in wooden sheaths, the checked longhi worn by men. All the way round we were followed by the gentle wheedling of “come and see my stall”, hands plucking at sleeves to emphasize the need. Back by the bus and then to our hotel on the banks of the river. The Irawaddy River. From our lovely room we looked out across the wide water where long boats paddled and cargo boats moved slowly in the lovely sunshine. It is quite beautiful.

Our first excursion was to the Schezigon Pagoda, a place of light and sunshine, with birds wheeling in the blue overhead as we sat on a stone step and listened to Frankie, taking in his words at the same time as the golden domes and temple spires. A little time then to wander on our own, to take in the shadows falling on covered walkways, the quiet corners where Buddha sat, the sunshine slanting on the tiled floor of an empty room, sunlight on friezes and cornices.

And the first of so many wondrous sights here in a valley where there are more than 2,000 temples. Our next, another where the gold paint was peeling off to reveal terracotta, arrived at through an arch.

On then by horse and cart. R and I were driven by Mompinar whose horse, Lucky, pulled a cart arranged with cushioned seats of flowered bright green.  We ambled up the rutted road enjoying the slow moving countryside, the now familiar shapes of temples revealed round every bend, until the one where we would sit to watch the sun set.  A little climb up ancient stone steps to platforms of different

Later we ate supper outside while the Irawaddy flowed past , a young girl sat on a dais singing while her father played, and stories of Burmese princes, of dragons, ministers and monkeys were told  by a puppeteer with a serious face and great dexterity.

Extract from – SUNDAY 6th NOVEMBER – Click here to read previous day

Diary extract from Anna Quarendon’s Burmese Tour with Panoramic JourneysLost Cities, Hidden Trails, 2011. To find out more about this group journey , to Burma or Tailormade journeys to Burma with Panoramic Journeys, call +44 (0) 1608811183.

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