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    Posted May 3, 2012 by
    diyaluke
    Location
    NEW YORK, New York
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Trip abroad that inspired you

    Spirited by Myanmar's Temple Town

     
    The bicycle didn't have a light. My eyes were straining to see in the moonless night and my legs seemed too stiff to peddle through the sand and gravel. I could sense the sun stretching. This was my one morning in Bagan and didn't want to miss the sunrise over the fields of ancient Buddhist temples.

    The lack of light, darkness and difficult terrain weren't my biggest challenge. I have multiple sclerosis and my body does not react well to being pushed. Under periods of physical stress my nerves essentially stop listening to my brain. With little sleep, fear from not bring able to see the road and rapid cycling to beat the sun, my body was revolting. I was beginning to doubt that cycling through the temples of Bagan was worth my increasingly numb legs and struggle to find my balance. In the quiet morning I could see the outlines of nearby temples, built hundreds of years ago by masses of forced labor. It was an odd motivator, but what kept me focused and peddling was knowing that people faced extreme duress to build these temples that I crossed the world to see. We reached our destination, an unnamed temple with access to a platform perfectly positioned east.

    The benefit of cycling in Bagan is the ability to reach its more deserted ruins. As our group of five climbed the temples narrow stairs we realized that we not only had this temple to ourselves for the morning, but there was no one in sight in the immediate vicinity. It was as if the sun made its appearance just for us, secretly revealing layers upon layers of temples as it ascended. In the new day, Bagan's personality changed from hazy gray to brilliant gold.

    The density and immensity of the temple fields of Bagan is staggering. Within an area of just a couple of square miles lies over 2,000 temples, some massive and others demure, some fully restored and others still in various states of excavation. Each seemed to be pulling me closer and, though my body was exhausted, the deeper I cycled into the history of Bagan, the more rejuvenated my mind felt.

    Bagan's temples inspired me to overcome my fear that my condition would restrict my travel experiences. I had thought that cycling would be easy, but going all day was more demanding on my body than I expected. In the end, Bagan was the muse I needed to learn that sometimes it is alright to push myself because the rewards can be so great.
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