Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stupas in the sun

Bagan is Burma's answer to Angkor: some 40 square kilometers packed with more than 2,000 temples.

As you might imagine, it's a bit overwhelming. There are huge old impressive stupas like this one ...

But it was the small things that stayed with me, like a little teak statue

and a (thankfully unrestored) faded painting of a woman with an umbrella.

This being Myanmar, there is a sad side to the story: the junta has been criticized for forcibly relocating people from the area in 1990, and has been accused of degrading the structures' historical value by renovating them inappropriately.

Hawkers and would-be guides at the more famous temples can drive you crazy, but the town itself, Nyaung U, was pleasantly laid-back. Lots of restaurants sold the local yogurt, which was tart, rich, slightly lumpy, and exceptionally delicious. Apparently Leonardo DiCaprio has a fancy frozen yogurt machine in his office, but if I were a Hollywood star, I'd hire someone from Bagan to hang around making the fresh stuff for me.

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