Thursday, 14 August 2014

The thousand temples of Bagan.



The train gently rocks you to and throw, causing your body to bounce calm up and down whilst you look out across the sun setting and the most beautiful peaceful landscape you've ever seen. There's no glass in the window that's in front of you and so a gentle breeze keeps you cool in the sticky heat and allows your senses to be filled with what you're passing thus giving you the sensation of being at one with the country. 

Occasionally you past little villages en route and the kids eagerly spring to their feet and begin frantically waving in hope you'll respond. With a quick acknowledgment in return these kids squeal with delight as their mums also look at you gleefully. Thankful for having made their day. 

You speed past wondering where these people will return to. What type of building they call home and what lives they lead. Whether they are educated or responsible for making income to help look after other members of their family. 

You pass little huts held together by string and filled with holes. You can't help but wonder what they do when it rains, or when the weather gets cold, or the river overflows and their houses flood. Their few possessions destroyed. You want to believe they'll go on to exceed their expectations. They look happy though, happy and thankful for what they have and so that's surely all that matters? Family means everything to these people.

The countryside is beautiful but beyond the sites I see, I know there is ongoing pain and struggling we could never comprehend. In Burma there's currently eleven bouts of civil-war related violence going on. The country was only opened to tourists recently and even then, a lot of the country is restricted due to danger. They have the worlds longest civil war going on... How do these people stay so optimistic? I admire them.








The train journey wasn't the worst thing to ever happen to me... In fact, it was pleasant and relaxing. A refreshing reminder of my surroundings. It had 2 double beds and 2 single beds between three of us. Admittedly they weren't the most comfortable things in the world, but far better than I had expected. The journey though... There were some very rough points along the way where I thought my brain was going to fall out of my head I was shaken up and down so vigorously. It was pretty mentallllll. Of course I didn't sleep very well at all but at least I had space to move around.

Before night fell I read the book 'we were liars', and on my gosh, I recommend every girl out there to read it. I had tears streaming down my eyes in the end. It's such a good book and it's a really easy holiday read. 

When we arrived in Bagan it was 11am and I've never experienced such excruciating dry heat in all my life. We went from forest shrub area to dry sand and the temperature just soared. It was unbearable to move in. We jumped into a taxi and paid the dodgy $15 entrance fee and checked in at the PanCherry Inn. I definitely wouldn't recommend to anyone. The rooms were hotter than outside and I didn't think that was possible. I was just melting into my bed. I showered (no warm water of course) and went to get changed, and by the time I had moved to my room I was already sweating and sticky. I slept for a few hours then decided maybe the weather had cooled down to go explore...

Boy was I wrong. I hired an electronic bike for 3000 and set off, only to have it break down on me a mile up the road! I then had to pedal it back... Let me assure you, these bikes are not made for pedalling. It was hard work and the heat just added to the nightmare. Eventually I got another bike and set off again. 

Finally made it to old Bagan and just searched round temples all day. I'll be honest, it was a bit repetitive, but I guess I'd been so excited for it that I wanted it to be amazing. 'Same same but different' as the Thais like to put it. All the temples were similar, but just slightly different in their own way. My favourite temples were the small ones with nobody around. I bought a book on the history of Burma and sat down at one of the temples to read it. 

I ended up feeling very faint and ill in the heat so found a cafe to sit in for a while. The man kept bringing me out food to be polite but obviously I wouldn't like it... Some of it I tried, then just hid the rest in my bag hahah. I felt too bad just not having any of it. 

At sunset, 6:30pm, I went to meet Christian and Edith (the couple that shared the train with me) on the main temple. It was nice, but it was too cloudy for a proper sunset which was a shame. My bike ride home alone was most enjoyable (other than the bike almost running out of power). It was just so chilling to know how ancient these temples were and how many of them there were just all around me. Talk about being in the center of history. It's a shame though because a lot of them have been re-done meaning they lost their authentic touch. I heard this is why it can't become a unesco world heritage site. It's sad really. It was still a beautiful little town though and housed some wonderful temples, but the number of them was just overwhelming!

I had the worst nights sleep I've ever had. The fan I had automatically turned itself of every hour, and I remember turning it back on at least 5 times even though it did nothing and I still sweated from every place possible whilst trying to semi cover up to avoid bites! Gah! Good day though. 









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