The temples of the central area of the Bagan plains are some of the biggest ones to see, so I planned a separate visit to them to ensure I had enough time to explore them in detail. Shwe-San-Daw temple I had already seen a few days before at sunset, so I skipped it and went right to a smaller temple called Loka-Hteikpan, which is known for its frescoes, but unfortunately the temple had been completely locked off due to earthquake damage. This would have been one of the temples with the best frescoes, thus I could only look at the photos in my book.
So, I continued my path over the dirt roads of the Bagan plain to the huge Dhammayan-gyi temple, which is the largest temple of Bagan and basically visible from everywhere. Besides a few plastic covers on some of the corner stones, the temple didn't seem to have too much damage from the August 2016 earthquake and it was possible to explore the huge galleries and hallways of the temple.
A bit further south-east stands the mighty Sulamani temple, which I kept looking for with my map and on GPS. I finally opened my book to see what it looked like since none of the temples here resembled Sulamani. This was when I realized that the entire top and side of the temple had been destroyed by the August 2016 earthquake. No wonder I could not spot it! The corridors and hallways of the temple are all filled with paintings of later centuries than its initial A.D. 1183 date.
At Sulamani temple, one stands actually right in the middle of the Bagan plain and I decided to take off freely on the dirt roads from here and see where it leads me. I came across some freshly damaged temples from a rumble the night before, where all four entrances were heavily damaged and bricks laying around everywhere. I steady reminder of the danger when visiting Bagan's temples.
I could only follow my path by the Burmese numbers of the temples since many did not have names. Luckily I was able to read the Burmese numbers and follow up with my map. The dirt roads actually took me south and I decided to visit Dhammayazika temple, with its golden stupa, which I had spotted from the balloon flight. Unfortunately I discovered that also this stupa was scaffolded for renovation. Dammayazika was actually the temple with the least tourists around from all the larger temples. Very quiet and beautiful to explore alone. A smaller monastery building right next to Dhammayazika had a great view onto the plains from the roof top. Again, souvenir vendors were very insisting but they actually offered a good selection of lacquerware.
This was actually the most enjoyable ride with the e-bike through the dirt roads of Bagan. Very quiet and if it wasn't for the few cars which passed me in a huge dust cloud, I would have done it more often. However I really had to completely cover myself with a breathing mask, hat and goggles from the dust and sun. As it was full moon night I headed back to the hotel to watch a beautiful sunset by the river and find a good spot for setting up my tripod for the full moon later in the evening.