Day 9: Spending a day to explore the temples of Bagan on a horse cart tour, relaxing by the pool of Hotel @ Tharabar Gate, and walking to see the Ayeyarwady River.
A confused dog howling with the roosters alerted us that it was time to start the day. After an energizing buffet breakfast, we set out and hired a horse cart driver for a half day tour of the temples.
We went along the northeast road by a dry farmland. Our driver use to be a farmer and complained about how arid it has been recently. He switched to tourism as the income was significantly better.
Our tour took us from temple to temple. Impromptu guides at each stop provided tours of the smaller temples in exchange for showing us their “artwork”.
We stopped at of the larger temples named after the King Htilominlo. Built with red brick in 1211, the structure is 150 feet (46 m) tall. Outside, shop owners lured us with their wares. Inside the dark dry hallways were four Buddha statues facing each entrance.
This golden domed stupa was the furthest stop we made on the tour. Completed in 1102 AD during the Pagan Dynasty, it supposedly holds the bone and tooth of Gautama Buddha. There were many smaller temples around and the whole experience was reminiscent of Shwedagon Pagoda but on a smaller scale.
Back at the hotel, we confirmed we would stay in Bagan another night and head to Mandalay the next morning. With that plan in place, we relaxed and spent some time by the pool of the Hotel @ Tharabar Gate.
We ordered sandwiches for lunch and had a refreshing swim.
In the afternoon, we headed through Tharabha Gate and walked to the bank of the Ayeyarwady River. On the way, we passed by the Golden Palace, an excavation site, and a police station. The whole walk was further than we had expected.
The “gourd-pagoda” was built around 300AD, though the original structure was completely destroyed during the earthquake in 1975. The platform around the pagoda offers beautiful views over the Ayeyarwady River.
We walked back towards the hotel stopping by the river side to see where the large ferries leave from. Unfortunately they do not run until the summer.
We also got caught in a downpour and ran to an arch over the road for shelter along with a dozen locals who looked like they were going home from work. We waited out the rain before heading back.
For dinner we tried another local restaurant Golden Sky. Don’t ask my why they all have “golden” in theirs names. The meal wasn’t as impressive as the night before. We decided to enjoy a drink at the hotel bar before calling it a night.
Off to Mandalay tomorrow!