The Temples of Bagan

Posted by on April 4, 2011

Temples of Bagan

So, granted, this is an overused descriptive: Bagan is incredible.  Unbelievable, maybe, would fit more accurately?

The immediate comparison is to Angkor Wat, in Cambodia.  While the two are similar in idea (ancient temples, old cultures, Buddhist sculpture), the vibe is completely different.  The joy of Angkor is riding your bike around a corner on a dirt track and finding a temple almost completely overtaken by the jungle.

The joy of Bagan is riding your bike along a dirt track, finding a temple with an accessible climbing route to the top, and getting a panorama of FOUR THOUSAND OTHER TEMPLES.  And that’s the low-end estimate.

bagan dirty biking foot

Literally anywhere you go anywhere on the Plain of Bagan you will run into another temple. Granted, this involves a lot of hard-work.  Pedaling through the desert and doffing footwear to explore 4,400 temples of Bagan for more than a day or two in a row is exhausting. Not to mention, it works up the weirdest tan lines if you do it for enough days in a row!

bagan monastery sunset

At the end of the day, though, while finding yourself on a 1400 year-old monastery watching the sun set over a valley full of ancient temples; all the exertion seems worthwhile.

Of all the places I’ve visited in Southeast Asia, this is the one I think I’d be happiest to go back to. Especially given the new camera I’ve bought in the intervening years, I can only imagine how much I’d enjoy the temples of Bagan this time!

 

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I actually visited Bagan back 2011 or so, before the big changes that are currently taking place. When I was there, it was pretty easy to just hire a horse or bicycle for the day and explore at leisure, but I have legitimately no idea what it is like now. If you’re worried about visitng Bagan independently, check out the growing list of partners with GetYourGuide.

 

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9 Responses to The Temples of Bagan

  1. Davelyn

    That is a big ol dirty American foot…

  2. Stranger

    I think you should remove the first photo, may be you are not intent to do that,
    but in the view of other people I think it’s show disrespect to other culture.
    by take your dirty foot with “Bagan” temples background.
    do you think you should remove it?

    • Stephen

      Hi Saimout,

      While I appreciate you perspective, I have to respectfully disagree. I think it shows respect to the temples at Bagan, given that I’m standing on the terrace of one of the temples as I’m taking this picture and so respectfully took my shoes off. If the conditions of the area means my feet got quite dirty over the course of the day as I was exploring Bagan, well, then that strikes me as a simple reality rather than a source of disrespect.

      Thanks for you comment, though.

  3. thet naing oo

    hey i am myanmar citizen ..ur leg photo is too rude because the background of ur picture is our worship pagoda.

    • Stephen

      Hi Thet, somebody has made this comment before (As I’m sure you see in the post), but never answered when I asked. What makes you feel like this is disrespectful, exactly? I think it shows respect to the temples at Bagan, given that I’m standing on the terrace of one of the temples as I’m taking this picture and so respectfully took my shoes off. If the conditions of the area means my feet got quite dirty over the course of the day as I was exploring Bagan, well, then that strikes me as a simple reality rather than a source of disrespect. Where, then, am I mistaken?

  4. Mr john Smith

    Hey Man,
    Can you delete your first photo on your this block which one I mean in your photo has foot and the pagoda together . This is not good for our Burmese Buddhist please. Thank you for your understand.

    • Stephen

      Hey Mr. Smith, thanks for you comment. Again, I’m happy to consider it providing anybody can offer me a reasonable explanation as to why this would be offensive? Please see the two comments above your for reference.

  5. U Pyay Htut

    Hi Stephen

    Regarding the “foot against the backdrop of Pagan temple”.

    Every culture /society has specific norms, rules, and sensibilities.
    In Myanmar Buddhist culture it is considered MOST disrespectful to point with the foot towards somebody or something this applies especially to Buddhist artifacts, temples, Buddha statues etc. but also books. For instance, one is not supposed to put books on the floor and step over them.
    Thus, your dirty foot is very insulting for a (Myanmar) Buddhist.
    If you respect the culture of Myanmar Buddhists, I would strongly recommend to remove it.

    Best,
    Maung Ko

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