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New Bagan


New Bagan came into existence in the mid-1990s when the government relocated villagers out of the Archeological Zone to a stretch of peanut fields 4 kilometres south. Laced with a network of dusty roads, peaceful New Bagan is an optimum location for both dining and accommodation. There is a vibrant morning market, a smattering of ruins, and plenty of jolly beer stations. It is also a thriving hub of Burmese lacquerware production. Just beyond New Bagan is Thiripyitsaya which was once the main port of Bagan with ships from India and Sri Lanka sailing in and out each day. There is more activity here than in New Bagan; even the dogs appearing more energetic than their groggy brethren further north. Nattering hens flutter across your path and men recline outside their houses in shallow bamboo deck-chairs, gently bouncing babies on their bellies. Boys work and play in the shallows of the Ayeyarwaddy and when it is cooler you can watch the local lads embark on a game of chinlone. Thiripyitsaya also boasts the sparkling Buu Pagoda; from a boat on the Ayeyarwaddy the stupa looks like a giant golden egg perching upon the lip of the cliff.

Photo: Valeria Trott


Burmese Lacquerware

Burmese lacquerware has been produced in Myanmar for centuries, and as the country opens up to tourism, the industry is undergoing a boom due to the interest and spending power of visitors. Burmese lacquer is made from the resin of the Thit-si tree. As with latex, one extracts the resin from little notches at the base of the tree. As well as its smooth and gleaming texture when dried, lacquer is both strong and adhesive. Burmese lacquerware incorporates anything from bowls to ashtrays, coasters to vases, brilliantly engraved and painted with traditional Burmese patterns and pictures. The lacquer is applied to bamboo, wood, sheets of palm tree, metal and leather, occasionally applied with horsehair to give the product a more flexible, bendy quality. As well as in New Bagan, Burmese lacquerware workshops can be visited in the neighbouring village of Myinkaba, and bought in large markets such as Bogyoke Aung San Ze in Yangon. Shan lacquerware, which differs from that made in Bagan, can be seen in the making and purchased in the eastern town of Kyaing Tong.

You can have a look here to find out about hotels within and around New Bagan, and on these pages you can find out more about Sampan Travel and our Suggested Journeys.

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