After our breakfast, served daily in the lovely gardens of the hotel, we were picked up by Min and Aung and taken to a bicycle rental store in Old Bagan. We set off down the sandy trails on our bike tour. First stop was Tuang Bi village where we wandered around, poking our heads into peoples’ door yards, observing them at work – a rice noodle “factory”, farmyards, the local pub, and the village school.
We saw young novices returning from their morning food/alms collection and then tucking into some delicious looking sweet corn.Young novices collecting alms meals and then enjoying some sweet corn:
Children in grades K-8 attend the school, each with one classroom. Two of the classroom buildings were recently donated by tour agencies – something we also saw in Peru. Min lives in Tuang Bi and attended this school; he told us that several years ago he volunteered in the construction of a new water well-house and new bathrooms.
Three women were cutting their sesame crop. Evidently this year’s crop only yielded a third to quarter of what is normally grown. This year’s monsoons didn’t provide as much rain as normal.
We visited Sulamani Temple with beautiful plaster carving and painting. Pahtothamya Temple was unique in that the lighting, from the north, illuminated the Buddha in such a way that the skin tone of the face and the rest of the body was different. Shwe Gu Gyi Temple, or locally known as Palace Temple, was used as an observation point.
Ananda Temple – the most beautiful in Bagan, and one of the largest, is undergoing a major restoration project (they are in the second of five years) funded by South Korea. The temple was built in the 11th century and was originally covered in murals. Over time, the locals used lime whitewash and covered it – multiple times! They are now in the process of stripping all the whitewash using ammonia, water and scrubbing brushes; it looks amazing and many of the carvings are in very good condition despite the acidic lime eating into the sandstone.
Our final Bagan sunset was viewed from The rooftop of one of the many temples