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Breathless Moments in Bagan

The squeaking of the wheels on my bike was the only sound I could hear. The gently forming sweat behind my neck was cooled down by a gentle breeze that touched my face and blew my otherwise properly braided hair. The warm and welcomed heat of the sun highlighted the colors of the place. All around me, I see different sizes of stupas and pagodas. Every bend on the road reveals a sight that makes me feel like I am in a different world.

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Loud shouts woke me up from the comfortable reclining seat of the overnight bus that Jireh, Shayne and I took from Yangon to Bagan. Looking out of the window, it was still dark but many people were already at the bus station. Most of them are taxi or horse cart drivers waiting for passengers. The now familiar shouts of people asking where we were going greeted us when we stepped off the bus. As always, haggling is one of the things I love and hate when traveling. It is the game of who’s going to get the best rate out of the other. However, since it was still early in the morning; I accepted defeat and took a taxi to the hotel.

That afternoon, we decided to have our first proper meal of the day at one of the restaurants overlooking Ayeyarwaddy River. Renting out bikes, we pedaled to Sunset Garden restaurant in New Bagan. It was a decision we did not regret. The restaurant is situated on a cliff with beautiful jars lined as decoration. Looking down below, the gently flowing river separated the distant mountains. The food was affordable and delicious as well. With the sun slowly setting, golden colors reflecting on the river and hearing distant birds singing, the moment captivated me. After a short while, the food was served and it was a wonderful first day wrapped up in Bagan.

Early the next day, we decided to hire a car to take us around Bagan to see the famous temples. There are so many of them, over 2000, so we decided to visit the important ones. I wrote about the 10 temples that I personally liked and recommended too. There’s also a $10 fee if you decide to go inside one of the biggest temples, however, many of the smaller temples are free to enter and just as beautiful experience.

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After the whole day of temple trampling, the driver took us to one of the temples to wait for the sunset. It was a busy one; many tourists came for the sunset as well. People were milling around, taking pictures with locals and tourists alike. We waited with unmasked anticipation; the distant clicks of cameras broke the suddenly silent place. Time passed by so quickly and then it was over,another breathless and beautiful moment in Bagan.

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On the third day, we literally took the meaning of breathless by deciding to bike around the city. Renting bikes from our hotel, we decided to go to other side of Old Bagan; the main area where most of the temples are located. As we slowly followed the paved and winding road, the pleasant early morning sun showed the way. Along the road, we passed by people walking, tending to their goats, horse carts and buses filled with tourists. Then, we decided to leave the main highway and followed a smaller dirt road.

The squeaking of the wheels on my bike was the only sound I could hear. The gently forming sweat behind my neck was cooled down by a gentle breeze that touched my face and blew my otherwise properly braided hair. The warm and welcomed heat of the sun highlighted the colors of the place. All around me, I see different sizes of stupas and pagodas. Every bend on the road reveals a sight that makes me feel like I am in a different world.

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The smaller temples were charming and unique. Some looked worn out; some looked like a version of smaller cities. The best thing about biking was I can stop anywhere I like. Whenever I meet locals, I was met with smiles and curious glances. The place enveloped me with the surreal feeling of being in a place that isn’t touched with all the perks of technology. We decided to stop at one of the temples for a few hours, it was so peaceful and without interruption, the perfect place to relax and read a book.

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The atmosphere of the temple was very similar to the atmosphere of Bagan as a whole. It was calm, unspoiled and a truly wonderful part of the world to see, and biking there is one of my favorite travel moments.

 

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Myanmar, Bagan

 

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5 Things to do Around Krabi Town

Krabi town is a popular hub for tourists who want to stay somewhere relatively cheap but closer to the beautiful islands of southern Thailand. Compared to Phuket, Krabi is more laid back and inexpensive but also offers several attractions in and around the town.

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If you’ve had enough of the islands and staying in Krabi town, here are some things that you can do.

5. Krabi Food Night Market

A big night market usually happens every Saturday but a smaller one with great selection of food pops up near the ferry pier to Railay. There are stalls with different inexpensive dishes which is a great place to test your tummy for Thai food. Prepare to be filled up for the evening.

4. Visit Wat Kaew Temple

This is a temple in the centre of Krabi town. The white façade with blue roof will attract your attention but make sure to visit inside this large complex. It is a wonderful place to relax and pass the time especially if you’re caught in a downpour. It is just across the popular Vogue Mall.

3.  See Khao Kanab Nam

Walk along the river and you can see people taking pictures of a big black crab. Behind it is the symbol of Krabi; a silhouette of two karst rocks situated next to each other.  Hire a long tail boat to take you from the pier to the rocks where you can walk up some stairs to the top.

2. Visit Wat Tam Seua (Tiger Temple)

Technically not in Krabi town, but a short 3 km away is a Buddhist temple known for tiger paw prints, tall Buddha statues, panoramic view of Krabi and strenuous 1272 small steps to the summit. It rises to about 600 meters (2,000 feet) with monkeys roaming around the stairs and temple. Be prepared to sweat and don’t forget to bring bottled water. Songtaews ply the way from Krabi town for about 50 Baht per trip.

1.  Drive and Enjoy the Emerald Pool and Blue Lagoon

Locals call this place “Sra Morakot” which means Emerald pool. It is located just an hour away from Krabi town, this is a popular destination for locals and tourists. The Emerald pool or pond is fresh and cool with the water supplied from natural streams coming from the hill. It is part of a national park so they require an entrance fee for both locals 20 THB and 200 THB for tourists.

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So if you’re in Krabi town for a short stay, check out these places and you’ll surely add more fun experiences than just islands hopping. Bonus activity: take a boat to Railay for a day and enjoy one of the most peaceful and stunning sunsets in Krabi.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Krabi, Thailand

 

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10 Temples to Visit in Bagan

Bagan is a fascinating place that lures many to see one of the world’s greatest archeological sites. Located on the banks of Ayeyarwady River in Central Myanmar (Burma), Bagan is a vast plain, partly covered of palm and tamarind tree with silver-grey distant mountains as its background. From the plain’s green spots, a dozen, hundreds or thousands of temples rise. Their silhouettes are beautiful, haunting and other-worldly. Originally 4,450 temples were built by the kings of Bagan between 1057 and 1287, however, only 2,230 of them survived.

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To explore all of them would be a long and tedious feat; however, just seeing 10 of them will give you a glimpse of the amazing place that is Bagan.

10. Gaw Daw Palin Phaya (Temple)

This is the 2nd tallest temple in Bagan. It features pointed arches and vaulted that looks good from the outside. However, its exterior is more impressive than its interior design. Inside are highly decorated ceilings with white-washed corridors and traces of formerly impressive murals  can be seen behind the heads of Buddha statues.

9. Shwe Gu Gyi Temple

This is a temple that boasts fantastic views of the surrounding temples of Bagan’s plains. Taking a steep and narrow stairs take you to a veranda where you can see different views from each side. It is also a good alternative sunset watching spot because it is less crowded and has almost as nice view of the river and temples.

8. Thatbyinnyu Temple

Thatbyinnyu which also means “omniscience” is the tallest temple in Bagan. It is known for its impressive brickwork covered in white stucco and stone pavements. Take a closer look at its brick masonry because of its intricacy that one cannot put a knife blade between the bricks. Its white façade looks beautiful which is actually the most interesting part of the temple.

7. Manuha Paya

This temple will surprise you with the Buddhas inside the small temples. They looked too large for their enclosures. It feels cramped and uncomfortable inside which is said to represent the stress and lack of comfort of King Manuha who was held captive in Bagan and built this temple to represent his displeasure. This temple is one of the first places that Aung San Suu Kyi visited when she was released from prison.

6. Gubyaukgyi Temple

Visit this “cave temple” for its interesting Indian-style spire and intricate murals that are blissfully preserved by not allowing photographs to be taken. UNESCO restored the paintings on the wall so bring a torch to clearly see the colored illustrations. A really nice stop if you’re biking along the highway. This is one of my personal favorites as well.

5. Dhamma Yangyi Temple

The largest of all temples in Bagan but comes with an eerie story which makes it more fascinating. Locals consider this temple as the ghost temple because of stories that the work on the temple had to be so perfect that if a worker leaves even a really small gap in between the bricks, his arm has to be cut on one of the stones. The guide mentioned that it is the only temple with two Buddhas sitting side by side as well.

4. Shwe Zigon Pagoda

It is considered one of the oldest and most sacred temples in Bagan. It resembles the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and it is also covered in gold. Make sure to visit in the morning as the floor can get really hot in midday.

3. Shwesandaw Temple

This is the temple to be for sunrise. Be prepared for a very steep climb but well worth the view for there are hundreds of other pagodas and stuppas in sight from the top. Come early and enjoy the fascinating view of Bagan.

2. Sulamani Guphaya Temple

This is my favorite temple in Bagan because of its fantastic exterior, stunning frescoes and beautiful murals. It is a photographer’s heaven and the place has a very relaxing feeling. It is a temple that should not be missed!

1. Ananda Temple

The most beautiful temple in Bagan stands out for its unique architectural style. It is one of the most visited and well preserved as well. Its murals, frescos, paintings and overall design give you the feeling of awe and wonder. It is simply stunning.

Take a whole day to explore these temples then another day to bike around. Enjoy the smaller ones and feel the ambiance of the entire place. It is one of the places that will make you feel in awe of history and past civilizations.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Bagan

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge : Summer Lovin

Palm trees

Ocean breeze

Salty air

Sun-kissed hair

Endless summer

Take me there

Summer lovin

I live in Southeast Asia where when I think of summer, I think of sunny days and cool breeze. This is one of those places where I can think of endless summer.

An entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge : Summer Lovin.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Snapshots of memories

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge : Sacred Containers

Walk of Content

Containers

I saw these young monks walking back from their traditional alms round with their unusual containers of food. Instead of small bowls, they had these bigger basins filled with food. Looking at how solemn they walked back to the temple was a lovely sight.

Taken near a temple in Mandalay, Myanmar. This is an entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge : Containers

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Snapshots of memories

 

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Best Travel Moment : Wedding Surprise at a Music Festival

elPadawan of elPadawan – Around Prague shared this lovely travel moment.

I was lucky enough (and nervous) to be chosen by a couple of friends to shoot their afternoon wedding portraits session. We had planned to take pictures in a lovely little park, in Prague, called Kampa. But on wedding day, what we didn’t foresee was that the park would actually be crowded by a big music festival. Walking around, we got noticed by the band on the main stage, who shouted “Mazel Tov!”, then changed their song list to play a wedding tune in their honor. That’s a first dance that they’ll remember all their life!

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I’d love to have this kind of reception for my wedding! How fun would it be to have so many people enjoying and a band playing. Thanks for sharing this fun and lovely moment, elPadawan! :) – Angie

Best Travel Moment is an ongoing feature about interesting and memorable travel stories and moments a person experienced. This is to inspire and share our experiences with everyone who would like to read and remember what it feels like to have a moment frozen in our memories.

If you want to share and be featured, check a sample here. 

Cheers to memorable travel moments!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Best Travel Moment

 

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