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.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Strand Cafe, Yangon

Located in the heart of downtown Yangon, Strand Hotel is a charming reminder of a bygone era that was elegant, relaxed and comfortable. The Strand Cafe located inside this old British colonial hotel is the perfect setting for a leisurely afternoon spent sipping tea or coffee while sampling a delicious array of bite-sized Burmese delicacies elegantly served in black lacquer tiffin. This is the best place to be if you want to escape the heat and bustle of Yangon.

The Strand or Strand Hotel was acquired by the Sarkies brothers, who also owned the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. It was in 1901 that Strand Hotel was opened to the public and it soon became one of the most luxurious hotels during the British colonial era. At present it is the only hotel left in Yangon of this period.

High Tea at The Strand Cafe is a must. They have two sets of menus, you can choose to have Classic (English) or Myanmar high teas. We'd rather tickle our taste buds and try something uniquely Burmese so we decided on the Myanmar High Tea Menu.

A taste of Burma in an old British colonial atmosphere.
Semolina Cake
Myanmar Wonton Stuffed with Rakhine Shrimps
Deep Fried Sticky Rice Balls Stuffed with Brown Bean Paste

Ginger-Infused Chocolate Bon Bons
Seasonal Fruit Jelly

Tea Leaf Salad (Laphet)

Deep Fried Banana
Seasonal Mushroom Tempura

Sago and Coconut Milk with Palm Sugar
Mutton Puff

Beautifully patterned British Colonial wallpaper featuring palm trees, elephants and pagodas.

The lobby 
Black and white photos around the walls show the heritage listed Strand Hotel throughout the years.  

The Strand Hotel maintaining its grandeur as a true historic and architectural landmark.

The Strand Cafe (Strand Hotel)
92 Strand Rd, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)