The secret to having a good time in Bagan has nothing to do with getting there - all that takes is faith in a Burmese pilot and his ancient aircraft, or an unwavering belief that your 13-hour bus ride from Yangon will actually deliver you to the dusty plains before all your hair turns grey (update: travelers now have the options of new turboprop airplanes and the new highway means that drive time is now approximately seven hours). The secret is in finding a new way to look at the temples themselves, at just the right time of day, and in just the right light. I'll never understand why most visitors cluster together to climb one pagoda when the plains are littered with thousands of others that afford anyone willing to visit a wholly new perspective on an oft-visited place. This is the way I look at every destination, whether new, old, untamed or untrammeled.
After a day of touring & climbing the many many temples and stupas in Bagan we finished our day at Shwezigon, considered by many to be the most important in the region. While wandering around a large group arrived. Well dressed and multi generational this group,spoke no English, Burmese or Thai. They were from a region in the north and were visiting a family member studying at the monastery. He asked if they could take a picture with me, I said but of course. Little did I know they wanted individual pictures. This is the last of 32 pictures taken over an hour of standing in 102 degree sun. I was told they had never before seen a blond white woman. I have their town name and hope to be able to go and visit my friends in February 2014.