16.01 Bagan 1, horse-drawn carriage ride through the padgodas
We were up again at 5.15 in the morning for the flight to Bagan which went without any hitches and the plane was almost empty. Our hotel the Bagan Thiripyitsaya Resort was really deluxe. I had a large suite of about 80m2. Breakfast was excellent although a request for cornflakes only produced muesli. There were beautiful grounds including some pagoda ruins and a swimming-pool, but unfortunately the weather stayed cloudy and did so almost until we left, apparently unheard of at this time of year.
Founded in 849 AD Bagan became the capital of the first unified kingdom and the first multinational union of Myanmar in 1044 AD. 42 square kilometres of open land, sited on the east bank of the Ayeyarwady River, covered by 5,000 mysterious and magnificent stupas and hollow pagodas of a bygone era, make Bagan one of the wonders of the world. It forms a great monument to one of Myanmar’s great eras. Today it is a premier archaeological site that provides a rich heritage from a twelfth century empire. A panoramic view of this land at sunset leaves one with a lingering sense of awe and wonder.
After briefly settling into our hotel rooms we set off in horse-drawn carriages to view some of the semi-ruined pagodas: Minyeingon – Pahtothamya – Shwegugyi – Ananda –– Nat Htaung Kyaung, Leya – Htilominlo – Sulamani – Dhammayangyi. Although there are thousands of these pagodas dotted around the countryside nothing exists today between them except woodland and fields. The new town of Bagan is quite separate. There of course facilities such as restaurants and souvenir shops for the local and foreign tourists.