Friday, 16 February 2018

Burmese Lunch at Sanon Training Restaurant & Temple-hopping in Bagan (Bagan Part 2)

An ancient city in central Myanmar located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Bagan is a land of thousand stupas, temples and pagodas. You cannot go to Myanmar without going to Bagan. Our trip to Bagan was one unique travel experience I will never forget. Here's a list of some of the city's biggest, most popular and most beautiful temples that should definitely be included in your itinerary. 

Thatbyinnyu Temple was built by King Alaung Sithu in the year 1144. At 61 meters high, this magnificent temple towers above all the other monuments in Bagan. Built in Bamar-style, this temple is different than what you'll see elsewhere in Bagan because of its grey and white colour. It is also a gu-style temple which is a hollow structure used for meditation, worship and other Buddhist rituals. 

 Dhammayangyi Temple is the largest of all the temples in Bagan with bats lurking around its high ceiling. The temple has a gruesome past hence locals believe it is haunted. The structure is undoubtedly impressive and the only temple in Bagan that houses a rare double Buddha sculpture. 

Puppets for sale outside Dhammayangyi Temple.

The Shwezigon Pagoda is one of the oldest and most impressive monuments of Bagan. This thousand year old gold plated pagoda was built by King Anawratha who founded the Bagan Kingdom in 1044.
The pagoda was damaged during the earthquake in 2016 and was covered but just imagine how magnificent this will be in its full


A beautiful and rare teak monastery in Taungi Village.

Nat Taung Kyaung Temple, another impressive teak temple.

Home to the largest area of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world.

Cute little Burmese girl with thanaka on her face and arms selling some vegetable fritters.

Maha Bodhi Temple is modelled after the famous Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar, India.
It is built in Hindu-style which is rare in Bagan. Its pyramidal tower has many niches containing 
over 450 images of Buddha.

Sanon located in Old Bagan is a training restaurant for marginalized local youth. We had previously supported Khaiphaen in Luang Prabang and loved the meal, so we decided to dine at Sanon Training Restaurant to continue supporting this association of restaurants with a cause while we were there. Slightly more expensive than other restaurants but it's worth funding this Burmese initiative. Although I can't really say it's the best in Bagan but food was delicious, fresh and tasty. Service was also friendly and polite which is typical in Bagan.

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie, Myanmar Beer, Watermelon Juice with Citrus

Burmese Style Crispy Watercress and Onion Pakora

Ginger Salad

Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Burmese Style Green Mango Salad


Burmese River Prawn and Catfish Curry with Apple Eggplant and Acacia Leaves
Chef Kyaw Kyaw's Beef Curry

Burmese Coconut Semolina Cake

Nutty Banana Fritters with Kaffir Lime Syrup and Vanilla Ice Cream

Bagan is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas and stupas. A truly beautiful place that I would love to go back again.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

I Left My Heart in Bagan. Visiting Temples and The Moon Vegetarian Restaurant (Bagan Part 1)

 After years of hibernation from the outside world, Myanmar decided to finally open its doors to tourism. Still relatively untouched by outsiders, now is the time to travel in Myanmar (Burma).
   An ancient city located in Mandalay region, Bagan is Myanmar's hidden gem. It is such an astoundingly beautiful place of worship with thousands of ancient temples, pagodas and stupas spread across its plain. You must allow yourself a few days here and get lost in its ruins to truly experience how incredibly enchanting this place is.
 Travelling is a never ending journey of discovery and if you're a curious traveller like me, you'll absolutely love everything you'll learn about Bagan. From eating authentic meals at local places to meeting local people at the markets, these experiences will give you an insight into Myanmar's culture and its people.

A great place to take advantage of the view over the surrounding temples.

Bupaya Pagoda located on the banks of the Irrawaddy river.

In August 2016, a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Myanmar and severely damaging nearly 200 ancient temples and pagodas at the old city of Bagan.
It just saddens me to see how cities could have been destroyed by a single earthquake.

The photo above shows Htilominlo Pahto after the earthquake. It was built in 1183 and is one of the greater temples and most-frequently visited in Bagan. This large majestic structure stands 46 meters high and famous for its ornate stucco decoration. 

Ancient and so beautiful.

Burmese vendor.
Faded beautiful murals and frescoes of Buddha inside the temple walls.

The umbrellas that gave Htilominlo Pahto its name.
"hti" (ထီး) translates to umbrella meaning protection.

Vendors set up shops outside the temple.
A Karen Long Neck woman demonstrates her weaving skill at Htilominlo Pahto.

   A woman of the Karen ethnic minority, also called the Long Neck tribe. 

   You can't leave Bagan without trying this original vegetarian restaurant, The Moon.
I've read so many good reviews about The Moon Restaurant which is conveniently located right next to Ananda Pahto. This is one of Bagan's best but just make sure that you go to the original restaurant and not the one across the road with quite a similar name and colour sign board. I've posted a photo of their entrance for reference.  

The dishes were so deliciously cooked and if you're not a fan of vegetarian dishes, this meal might change your mind. The curries looked quite simple but behold every bite was heavenly. Service was fast and friendly too. When you visit Bagan you MUST try this place.

Garlic Naan
Papaya Lassi and Lime Ginger Honey

Tea Leaf Salad

Bagan Tamarind Leaf

Pumpkin Curry with Ginger

Myanmar Aubergine Curry

Truckload of thanaka barks.

Ananda Pagoda is one of the most beautiful temples in Bagan but was badly damaged during the earthquake that shook the town last year. It was undergoing extensive repairs when we were there. This pagoda is known for its four 9½ meter tall standing Buddha images and these teak wooden gilded Buddha images represent the four Buddhas that have reached nirvana, namely Kassapa Buddha (South), Kakusandha Buddha (North), Konagamana Buddha (East) and Gautama Buddha (West).

What to wear in Bagan? Something that can be easily removed and worn back as no shoes and socks are allowed inside all temples and pagodas.
These traditional Mandalay velvet slippers are called Hnyat-phanat and are very similar to flip-flops. You can find plenty in Bagan.