It represents the transition and the start of an ending. The colours, pale yellow, ruby red and then dark bruised purple change as the darkness comes to rule. Nothing lasts forever even this beauty, I talked to myself as I gazed along the amber horizon of Bagan sunset. This is the time of the day painting sadness, longing, loneliness and the good versus the bad. One can't help but fall in love with Bagan. Could it be that it portrays the glorious past of a fallen present? Or the truthfulness, the beauty of maturity and the peacefulness it brings? One will never know for certain. I stood and watched the sunset. The shadows of medieval ruins went right out to the east. The sun touched the horizon, and then the little red button continued to sink under the black line of Bagan plain.
Axel sounds of bullock carts,
Echo across Bagan's heart.
Temple number sum is tough. – Anonymous
Bagan once known as Pagan is the crowning jewel and the birthplace of Myanmar. Buddhism first blossomed here. We have a saying, One cannot move his or her finger without pointing a temple in Bagan.The ruins of medieval Bagan are stretching out across the plain, as far as one's eyes could see, representing how a Buddhist kingdom looked like in its hay day. Nothing in South East Asia can rival Bagan's cultural values except Cambodia's Angkor Wat. Each and every Bagan temple is different in architecture and has an intriguing story behind. Some of the stories came from the documented facts but some from the myths nevertheless narrating one of the finest sites the world has ever seen.
The country is changing fast so is its tourism. Getting an entry visa to Myanmar and getting to Bagan is not an onerous chore anymore. But the choosing the right district to enjoy the fullest Bagan has to offer, including its famous sunsets, still is.There are three quarters where one can choose to accommodate in Bagan: Old Bagan, New Bagan, Nyaung-U.
Old Bagan is the place to be if one chooses to be mingled with the thick of the ancient ruins and some of the most beautiful and expensive hotels in Bagan. It is sitting within the remaining city walls of the ancient Bagan. This luxurious quarter isn't fully occupied yet, so there is not much else there apart from the hotels and temples with the exception of high-end restaurants nearby. Shwesandaw Pagoda, the famous temple every traveler talks about going to watch the sunrise and the sunset in Bagan is located here. Old Bagan is the ideal place for someone who wants get the best magic out of Bagan, regardless of its affordability. Sadly it was not meant for me. The place was being so kind to my wallet.
Cheaper mid-price accommodation options are in New Bagan. Located on the high banks of the Irrawaddy River, it is a scenic area for sunrises and sunsets but more remote. Just a decade ago, new houses are built and occupied by the people who were relocated from Old Bagan in order to preserve the remains of Bagan. Although there are plenty of temples nearby, none of them are as famous or as architecturally unique as those in the older counterpart. Being a Burmese, I did not mind the long walk under the heat and the dust Bagan's summer had to offer. I decided to stay in this friendly neighborhood buzzing with many lacquer-ware and handicraft shops.
Confusing the travelers with New Bagan is the town of Nyaung U, Bagan's most budget-orientated area with numerous choices for restaurants. But it is the farthest from the monuments. I arrived in Bagan with a night coach from Mandalay, and the moody driver dropped me off at Nyaung-U. It was exactly three clock in the morning. The town was half-dead, and I had to spend a night at a guest house in Nyaung-U. It was clean but bare-minimalist. This district is a fitting place for backpackers and local travelers. The center of the town is atmospheric with colonial architecture and a market which is a hive of activities in Bagan. Everything comes and goes from here. All the transportation links including boat, bus, and plane are planted here.
I spent one night in Nyaung-U and another two in New Bagan. From the architectural wonders of Ananda temple to the largest of them all, Dhammayangyi and the melancholy story of a captive Mon king at Manuha temple where all the Buddha statues all seem too cramped and uncomfortable for their enclosures representing the stress and lack of comfort the imprisoned king had to endure, I have to admit that some places more than live up to the hype and Bagan is one of them. If one couldn't make it to see Bagan, it means one has never made it to Myanmar.