Sunday, April 22, 2007

Myanmar (Burma) Bagan

This was our first step back in time. Cue Twilight Zone music.

Okay, maybe the first step back in time was taking the flight from Yangon to Bagan leaving from an airport that should have been painted black and white and been in a 40's movie. Next was getting into a car from at least 30 years ago, which when I described it later to teachers who have traveled extensively, nonplussed they said: "Oh that sounds like Cuba." Our taxi dated to about 1970. And if it wasn't for the falling headliner, missing door handle, windows that rolled down but not up, most of the rear seat coverd..but only most, then maybe it would have been charming. Fun and unusual: Yes. Charming ain't gonna cut it.

Cue Starship Enterprise.

Warp speed back in time to I don't know oh maybe a 1,000 years ago.

Cliff notes from our faithful guidebook, The Lonely Planet. Bagan was a prime spot for activty for about 250 years dating from about 1,047 and ending with the footsteps of Kubla Khan raiders in 1287.

We stayed in Old Bagan, where the government relocated all the inhabitants away to create the Archaeological Zone, located on the bend of the Ayeyarwady River. Hotels are allowed as are a few local restaurants, but other than that it's an arechological zone.

As Lonely Planet says: "Imagine all the medieval cathedrals of Europe sitting on Manhatten Island --and then some-- and you begin to get a sense of the ambition of the Bagan kings who built as many as 4,400 temples over a 250 year period." Ayup, 4,400 temples.

After being overtaken by Kulai Khan and the Mongol invasion, the sites reamined deserted and untouched over the centuries.

The "why" is what I'm still trying to find out. All I can surmise is offering to the gods.

These pictures can't convey the vast amount of temples in this area. I kept looking for a great post card or aerial shot, but the best I could do was take a photo of a small area from the top of a temple.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Myanmar: Yangon and Schwedagon Temple

I keep wanting to say "Burma Shave". Well, that goes back in time, but near as far back as Myanmar, which was renamed Burma by the British.

During the van service to Pudong airport for our flight to Myanmar another teacher asked: "And where are you going on spring break." I was tempted to say Fort Lauderdale, but Susan answered: "Myanmar...ever been there." To which the other teacher replied: " I wouldn't go there for political reasons." I was so tempted to say: "'re living and working in China and you won't go to Myanmar?" But I bit my tongue....

You can read all about the political problems in Myanmar, but then again name a country that doesn't have something wrong with it. Right now a world poll has the U.S. in an ugly light with close to 60% saying the U.S. sets a bad example.

Bush's embargo sometime ago caused a number of banks to leave the country. There is not an ATM machine to be found and you can't use your credit card in most places.

Guess what they want: U.S. Greenbacks. We took a pile of George Washingtons, Abraham Lincolns, and pretty much ignored the other presidents.

Only one day was planned in Yangon and that was to see the Shwedagon Paya Temple. Well worth the trip. These photos are only a sampling and don't near at all show the size.

Posting these now. Will be back later to tell you about Miss LaLa, the Three Season Hotel, and my flirtation with a drag queen...well I didn't flirt.. I was flirted "at".

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BALI: Ubud and More

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