I crossed the road once again planning to head towards the Mya Zigon temple but on my way there I noticed a flurry of red robes making their way up a trail. I found this to be somewhat perplexing at first as the monks were heading towards the banks of the Irrawaddy River and there was no obvious temple in the vicinity as far as I could tell. So spurred on by my curiosity, I decided to just follow them.

The narrow path lead to a scattering of small wooden huts with numerous monks mingling about leaving the area splashed with red. As I entered the clearing, a hush seemed to descend on the place as the monks stopped what they were doing and just stared at me. As you can expect, having 20 or so bald monks stare at me in absolute silence left me feeling incredibly disconcerted. I didn't hesitate for a moment and just carried on walking pretending that I knew what I was doing and where I was going. Doing so just lead me right to the banks of the river itself. The monks were still staring at me most likely wondering if I was lost so I just took out my camera and began to take photos of the river. After a while things started to go back to normal and the monks carried on with whatever they had been doing before my arrival.

Soon after, the monks seemed to start to move towards one of the larger huts and since the hut was on stilts and elevated, they were forced to climb a wooden staircase before entering the building. A slow drone of deep, resonating chanting seemed to materialise in the air that emanated from the hut and as I looked around, the clearing that had been filled with monks earlier was now almost entirely empty. I spotted another trail heading west and decided to follow it.

I came upon a scattering of tiny temples on the side of the road that were labelled with numbers and that seemed to have not had any specific names assigned to them. Each one of the temples were unique and built slightly differently from the others. The only thing that they seemed to have in common were the seated Buddhas in each of them. The Buddha seemed to always be with its legs crossed in the lotus position and with the left hand in the lap indicating a meditative state, and the right hand outstretched and almost touching the ground. This hand position was supposed to represent the time soon after Buddha's enlightenment when he apparently was calling to the earth to witness the new 'state' that he was in.

The feeling I got here was of utter tranquility. There were no obtrusively garish renovations that detracted from the agelessness of the temples and there were no bustling crowds of touts selling their wares and tourists talking to each other loudly and obnoxiously. The grass and weeds here were overgrown and seemed to help bridge the gap between the the natural and the unnatural, screaming loudly (and proudly) of the inexorable power of nature as it begins to swallow up the buildings when left unhindered.

...only now was I truly beginning to feel and appreciate the remnants of a lost kingdom.

Minochantha Temple

Type of monument : Type II Temple (Kundaung Pauk Gu)
Location : south of Bagan Nyaung-U Main Road
Region : Old Bagan
Built by : King Kyansittha
Date : A.D 1112
Monument Number :

The bright, white stupas from across the road had caught my attention early on as the contrast and colour was very different from everything that I had seen before. There was a line of Palmyra Palms (Borassus flabellifer) lining the front of the temple and just behind them was a wooden veranda and walkway that lead up to the pagoda.

As I walked from the walkway onto the raised platform, I felt that the white marble tiles were cool under my bare feet - a sharp contrast to the heat of the sun that was now high in the sky. The impressive stupas that were guarded by 'chinthe', the half-lion and half dragon from Hindu-Buddhist mythology, now towered over me. I walked around them and towards the rear end of the platform taking in the wonderful vista of temples before me as the little bells that adorned the tips of the stupas tinkled as they swayed in the wind.

The heat began to become unbearable after a while so I was forced to return to the bicycle and seek shelter. I found an area of shacks that were selling food not too far away so decided to stop by one for some Burmese amber nectar, which was USD2 (MMK2650) per bottle, the perfect beverage for the blistering heat!

As I sat down I noticed a group of men that were sitting around a table that was piled with liquor bottles. They seemed a little rowdy at first but went quiet as soon as they noticed me. They stared at me for a while before starting up their tumultuous din once again as I helped myself to some oily peanuts that were sprinkled with sesame seeds and spices.

Next : Bagan (Part 4)