Mike visited:

» Thailand
» Myanmar (Burma)
» Laos
» Cambodia
» Vietnam
» India
» Nepal
» Egypt
» Jordan
» Uganda
» Tanzania
» Malawi
» Mozambique
» Swaziland
» South Africa

View a map of his route.

 press/awards earned a few nice mentions in the press, including's vote as best travel blog on the Web. Read about it on the Press/Awards page.

The Thousand Temples of Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Bagan is a mystifying and fantastic deserted city in Myanmar that contains thousands of ancient Buddhist temples and pagodas (Buddhist monuments). The structures were built between the 11th and 14th century and today have a weathered, primeval quality about them. Constructed of earth-colored brick, the structures glow red in the setting sun.

Trial by Earthquake
A massive earthquake rocked Bagan in 1975, leveling hundreds of temples and damaging many more. Most of the damaged structures have been restored, and thousands of temples still dot the landscape.

Fairytale Landscape
I first glimpsed the temples of Bagan as my riverboat ferry from Mandalay neared the Bagan landing. Seeing the ancient, earth-colored structures perched proudly upon the river bluffs transported me back in time. But it wasn't until I stepped atop my first temple that I realized how magical Bagan really is. From that perch I could see hundreds of pagoda and temple towers stretching off to the mountains in the distance.

A Spotty Recent History
Like many (most?) places in Myanmar, the government has laid a heavy, clumsy hand on Bagan. In 1990, the government decided to relocate all the families in the historical district of the city. This announcement came abruptly, with residents given just one week to pack up their lives and move to nearby "New Bagan".

The restoration work done on many of the time-worn and earthquake-damaged temples looks pretty shoddy up close, with too-new brick and thick, sloppy mortar work. It's clear that the government or whoever doesn't recognize the allure of a ruin.

Indiana Jones for a Week
I spent a full seven days in Bagan. Each day I'd rent a bicycle and pedal through farmland, villages, and wild brambles to explore remote, magnificent structures. I'd often be the only visitor at a temple; exploring the quiet interiors and climbing dark, narrow stairways were true Indiana Jones moments.

You Should Visit Too
Bagan is a dream destination for photographers, archeologists, anthropologists, architects, wannabe explorers, and curious onlookers. The place is magic, one of the true wonders in Asia.

Posted on November 21, 2002 09:51 AM


Comments (post your own below)

I know you won't be reading this for a while, but we wanted to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! We'll miss you on Thanksgiving.

Posted by: Lea Ann on November 21, 2002 09:36 PM

Mike - For such a mellow cat from Chicago you really take some cool pictures. Jen and I loved the website and it really got us pumped up for Myanmar. We moved up our ticket so now we have a full 3 weeks in country.

Posted by: Doug Bozick on December 21, 2002 07:47 AM

Hey you are so lucky !!! when you can find the time please tell me what kind of tools you took with you ( labtop? cameras? video editing software?..etc) I hope to do the same thing this summer in the Phillippines. I want to document the experience in the same way. How can I find out more concerning the sponsers ??

Posted by: Selim on March 3, 2003 12:36 PM

Hi Mike,

I have to tell you that your web page is fantastic. I have been researching my upcoming year trip for the last 2 years and your travel page is by far the most amazing and well thought out that I have ever seen.
Enough praise already - Yikes.
Anyway, I am from Canada and am planning a year trip with my new wife Cathy to many of the places you have been recently. I have a couple questions for you if you can spare a moment.

1. It seems Laos has broken out into a war zone and a Hmong led insurgency is attempting to topple the governement. Buses have been shot up north of Vang Vieng on Hwy #13 (Some 40+ casualties), multiple explosions in Vientien, and abundant military fighting between laos forces and LPDR. Any news from friends in the area on weather Laos is now a "Danger" Zone ?
2. Myanmar currency exchange on airport arival. What is the deal on that these days and how long is the granted tourist Visa?

You must be busy as hell but any news would be fantastic. Keep up the Web, take care and happy vagabonding!!!

Kevin & Cathy

Posted by: Kevin Mageau on August 25, 2003 06:13 PM

I really like the web page, I was doing some research for a history project on bagan and this site gave me a lot of great information on what its like there more recently. thanks

Posted by: just a fan on May 3, 2004 07:29 PM

Comments closed.


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