Friday, February 20: After I leave the “many elephants temple” with my Havaianas and my e-bike, I drop in again at Htilominlo Pahto to pick up a few more of the lightweight cotton pants I bought yesterday for $3 each. I can wear them as I continue my travels around the country. I put them on the handlebars of the e-bike and stop next at Ywa Haung Gyi Temple. Many tourists apparently come here to watch the sun rise.
Girls inside Ywa Htaung Gyi Temple work on handicrafts, which they also sell.
It’s only about 4:30 in the afternoon, not time for sunset yet, so I head next to Gawdawpalin Phaya, which looms over Old Bagan at 197 feet (60m). It’s one of Bagan’s largest and most imposing temples. It’s name means “Platform to which Homage is Paid,” says Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma).
It was built through the reigns of Narapatisithu and Nantaungmya, and is considered the crowning achievement of the late Bagan period, according to Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma).
This temple sustained great damage during the 1975 earthquake, as it sits near the quake’s epicenter. It had to go through a major reconstruction after the earthquake.
Next, I stop briefly at Myet Taw Pyay Phaya, believed to have been built by King Kyanzittha. Apparently, during his reign, King Thet Min Katon of Rakhine turned on the sitting king, who sent his warriors to capture the rebellious king alive. As King Kyanzittha prepared to execute the rebel king for high treason, Shin Arahan pleaded for royal clemency, saying that in previous lives the two kings had taken an oath of faithfulness and promised to help each other when in trouble. King Kyanzittha spared the traitor’s life and built Myet Taw Pyay Paya on the site to commemorate the event.
Finally, at around 5:00, I head to Shwe-Gu-Gyi, or “Great Golden Cave,” built by Alaungsithu in 1131, during Bagan’s middle period of temple building. This period transitioned to a light and airy architectural style from the previous period of a dark and cloistered style. Inside are beautiful stucco carvings and stone slabs that tell some of the history of the temple. Part of the history not told here is that in 1163, Alaungsithu’s son brought his sick father here and smothered him to death (Lonely Planet Myanmar).
My biggest interest here is to watch the sun go down. However, I still have to ride the e-bike back to my hotel, which I don’t particularly want to do in the dark, so I have to leave a bit before sunset.
After leaving my sunset views, I ride the e-bike back to the hotel. There, I try on the new cotton pants I’ve just bought at Htilominlo Pahto. As I bought them from the same vendor, I assumed they would all have the same fit, but I’m wrong. Several are too small. I discard them by hiding them at the top of one of the cupboards in the room. I do this often when I travel and want to lighten my load. I’ve found if I leave things out where housekeeping can see them, then they come running after me at check-out, telling me I’ve forgotten something. For the little amount of money I spent on them, I may as well leave them for someone else to discover.
At this point, from all the dust I’ve been kicking up all day, I am coughing and my throat is rough and dry as sandpaper. I decide I need a glass of wine and a good dinner at the Green Elephant. I take quite a long walk to the open-air restaurant.
I enjoy the views of the grounds as I eat a dinner of mini-spring rolls, tomato and peanut curry, rice, and a glass of red wine. All the while, I am coughing and clearing my throat. I’ve planned to visit Mt. Popa tomorrow, which should give me a break from being exposed to the dust on the plains of Bagan.
At the end of this day, I’m happy to be reunited with my beloved Havaianas after having “lost” them earlier. However, at Mt. Popa, much to my chagrin, my flip-flop debacle continues. 🙂