Tip of the Month

Yangon in Myanmar, Burma

Each month we highlight a place of interest around the globe that we consider as unique as Borgo di Vagli. The tips are selected as they either show respect for the environment, nature, and architectural beauty or are deeply indigenous to their individual origin.

This month our dear owners Harald and Else Kobbe from Bergen, Norway share their experiences of visiting an historic part in Burma.


About an hour flight north of Yangon in Myanmar - Burma there is a flat plateau along the river Ayeyarwaddy. In winter, after the monsoon, you see dry riverbeds crisscrossing the landscape, only the main river being brown and navigable.

The plateau itself at first seems dry and almost barren in the sunlight. But as the plane starts descending, you see small patches of green farm land with narrow roads between them, then suddenly, - one huge temple or a pagoda among the trees and bushes, - then one more, - then tens and hundreds more.

All together there used to be about 10.000. But the years since they where built in the center of the kingdom of Bagan between the 9th and 13th century, have taken their toll.

Numerous earthquakes, the last major one as late as in 1975, has laid about 75 % of them in ruins. But there still are over 2.200 temples and pagodas surviving to the present day.

Some are small, some are enormous. The pagodas are solid, keepers of relics. The temples are more open, possible to enter to study large and small Buddha-statues, or to climb to the roof to get a view of the plain.

We came in the morning, and drove around in a bus, where that was possible. It was beautiful, and stunning. Some of the buildings are standing alone, others are clustered close together. Between them now is only grass, trees and bushes. When this was the center of a mighty civilization there must have been streets, maybe gardens or other structures between them. Whether these are completely gone now, or just covered by some centuries of dust and soil, we were unable to find out.

But it was in the afternoon, the hour or so before sunset, the whole place became magic. We drove in horse drawn carts around, form one temple to the next, from one pagoda to the other. And as the sun came lower on the sky, the colors changed. From being often grey, or sometimes almost black, the buildings became red, yellow and ochre.


It was hard not to try to draw parallels. What did this wonderful place remind us of? Really nothing, we had seen before. The pyramids in Egypt, for example, are much more heavy and sturdy, not almost floating in the air as the temples of Bagan. And it gave away a strong feeling of mystery, spiritualism of whatever you would call it. So to us the two places that may be comparable are still so different as Machu Pichu and Assisi.

To us, with one foot in Borgo di Vagli, it was also impossible not to reflect on the fact that when St. Francis walked the hills and valleys in our part of Italy, the Buddhist shrines of Bagan probably had reached a splendor we only got a faint glimpse of from our horse drown cart.

Will we go back? Oh, yes, - if we could right away. Will we go back in 5 or 10 years, when mass tourism has made its influx, - we don't know.

Else and Harald Kobbe  


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