Day 1 Half-day tour in horse cart
While our early morning flight from Yangon arrived at the Nyaung U (NYU) airport before 8am and we were checked into the Kumudra Hotel, on the edge of New Bagan before 9 am, we took Guide Minthu’s advice and relaxed until later that afternoon. After being wet and cold for 3 days in Yangon, it was really nice to bake in the heat of Bagan and take a swim in and nap by the pool.
Our plan for the afternoon was to tour sites in the New Bagan area by horse cart and save some of the locales located further away for our full day tour by van the following day.
One of the great things about taking a tour in a horse cart is that the entire experience seems so much more intimate. You’re not so separated from what you are looking for as you would be in a car. It gives more of a natural feeling especially when driving down dirt lanes and paths through farmland on the way to one of the ancient shrines.
However, I should point out that it is not the most comfortable means of transportation and in addition, when it is necessary to get out on the paved road traveling between those idyllic dirt tracks, it’s a little disconcerting to find your self in auto traffic like shown in the video below. For me, a half day in the back of a horse cart was just about right.
The first temple we stopped at was the relatively small Abayadana Temple. Inside the main section of this temple we saw remarkably colorful ancient mural paintings and small Buddha images. Outside were a few very polite crafts vendors.
Next stop was Nanpaya, is one of the few temples in Bagan constructed from limestone. Brahma figures can be found inside the temple which suggests it was originally constructed as a Hindu temple.
From there it was a short walk over to the Manuha Temple, where we saw 2 very impressive Buddha images. In front is a giant sitting Buddha that is so large that it virtually fills the entire room where it is sheltered. Walking around to the back side revealed a large and long reclining (smiling) Buddha in an equally cramped space.
We headed back to the horse drawn carts and rode over dirt roads through dusty farmland to our last two stops of the day. First was Shwe Gugyi Temple, where we climbed to top to see panoramic views of the region surrounding Bagan and then our final stop of the day was at Shwe San Daw Pagoda (for Sunset)