Shwezigon Paya and the 37 nat (Nyaung-U)
If Yangon has the Shwedagon Pagoda, Nyaung-U (Bagan area) has the similarly impressive Shwezigon Pagoda.
Before the adoption of Buddhism, Burmeses worship spirits called nats (they continue the worshiping today in many temples).
A clockwise tour in the temple compound reveals many more interesting sights and artefacts.
I am not a tour guide and did not hire any guide, so don’t expect to elaborate in details. I did my research online and tour books before any trip, so my knowledge is limited.
One of the activities I enjoyed is to eardrop on other tour guides (if they spoke English or Chinese). The local guide often offered interesting stories and practices that are not mentioned in guide books.
The reason I don’t hire any guide is because they often bring to standard route and standard view. We normally hang out in once place without any agenda. When we are done exploring, we move on to the next site.
It is always a good idea if you can afford a local guide who speak fluently the language of your choice. It is more time efficient than ready many thick guide books. You also get to ask question on anything that caught your interest.
You can venture to the riverbank, or keeps circulating in clockwise direction. You could meet few tourist scams in this place. It is fascinating to watch. For example, one lady will carry slices of watermelon on top of her head. curious tourists may take picture, then she will be chasing after tips. There are few little monks circling in counter clockwise direction, pose and stand wherever they are more tourists. Locals always walk in clockwise direction within temple compound.