Bagan, Myanmar

When we arrived at the Bagan Airport, we were supposed to have a person there to pick us up, but there was some confusion in the last minute booking, so we got a taxi. It turned out to be a good thing, because the driver offered us a good day rate (about $20US) to take us around for the day and we accepted. 

We visited some of the 3-4000 pagodas and temples and learned the differences. Bagan is a little different than most ruins that I have seen, because these are still working temples.

The Shwezigon Pagoda or Shwezigon Paya is a Buddhist temple. It is a prototype of Burmese stupas, and consists of a circular gold leaf-gilded stupa surrounded by smaller temples and shrines. The construction on this Pagoda was completed in 1102

The temples have Buddha statues in them and people come to pray

This was one of the biggest Buddha statues - you can see Greg as compared to his thumb.
There was a large group of Shan people (country folk) visiting one of the temples. Some of the women were wearing actual towels on their heads as turbans:)
On our second morning we booked a Balloon ride. We called and emailed to confirm, since there had been confusion about the hotel name, but still, 30 minutes after pick up time, no one was there for us. The hotel finally got their staff to drive us out to the balloon site just in time to see them begin to fill the balloons. No loss, all we had missed was standing around in a cold dark field for half an hour.

The balloon ride was spectacular. We floated silently over the ruins, watching the sunrise. I have always wanted to fly in a balloon. 

Many balloons went up at once
These two balloons seemed to be very friendly and stayed together for a long time
We flew right above many of the temples

On the second day got the driver to take us up Mount Popa. This is a mountain that has a temple built at the top. There are hundreds of monkeys living at the temple. Some of them can be quite aggressive. One of them lunged at me when I looked at him too long, and I soon learned not to stare. Family groups seem to “own” each level, and will stop you to ask for stair cleaning donations, 

The temple on top of Mount Popa
The monkeys on top of Mount Popa
Not sure soda is good for monkeys... or people for that matter.
The little monk novices put on a show so I would take pictures of them and then they ran over to see each picture and laugh and make more and more silly things for me to film!
Old people line the road asking for money on this pilgrimage route
When we were leaving, one large monkey ran up to a woman walking by on the street and grabbed her bag lunch right out of her hand and dashed up on top of a building to eat it. The woman looked shaken and very relieved that she wasn't hurt.

Many people live behind the markets in thees big tent cities.
There is a carnival which runs in the evening
Just people catching the local bus to work
These ladies were repairing the asphalt road with their bare hands - they have a bowl of asphalt between them and they pat it into the holes. No gloves even.
The kitchen at the restaurant where we ate lunch twice.
The local people rub sandalwood on a rock to make a pale cream that they rub on their face as a sunscreen. The girls call it makeup and take great care putting it on:)