Got into Mandalay at about 6:00 am and I had figured out my itinerary at this point and saw that I didn’t have much time to do everything I wanted, so I decided to skip Mandalay and go straight to Bagan. Once in Mandalay, I immediately looked for ways to Bagan, the train was 1800 kyat (1.80cents) for a night train there or the bus was 9000 kyats (9 dollars to leave at 8:30 am) I decided not to mess around and go right away, having little interest in Mandalay. Waited around and was taken care of by a local taxi driver who talked with me for several minutes to a bus terminal and thank me for coming into his country. The people here as so nice and welcoming and really appreciate tourism and what it’s doing for their country, it’s a nice change.
The bus ride was quite bumpy but still comfortable, met a German named Chris on the bus. We decided to pair up for Bagan and get guesthouse room. Once we got to bagan, we got a free transfer to new Bagan, if only Cambodia and everywhere else did this, go Myanmar! We went to ostello bello, the top ranked hostel but it was 26$ per night so we decided to look elsewhere. We found a guesthouse around the corner and we got a private room together for 20$ each. Lady was very nice and place looked nice too. She immediately lent us her e-bikes so we could scoot around Bagan till sundown. We threw our bags down and jetted off. Went to the nearest pagoda took some pictures but when the sun took a while to set we decided to keep exploring to another temple nearby that we could climb.
So we found one 2 km away we went inside and there was of course some hawkers. One on the main floor and two upstairs waiting for people to come up. We went on the opposite side to watch the sun set. It was gorgeous, nothing out of the ordinary but the usually nice sunset. We went back to the hostel after and had a local supper which I didn’t enjoy too much except for the salads which for some reason are amazing here, they put tea leaves in them and oils and basil I think. They also had some sort of tomato and avocado salad. Called it early because we would be getting up for the sunrise. We organized ebike rentals through our hostel at 9000 kyat(8USD) for the day.
Up early to go see a sunset, we got up at 4:45 and left for 5:15 am. We scooted around the temples and got lost to finally settle on a temple, the rise was great, you see all the colors of the sky until the sun finally hits the horizon a bright red. We stayed there for about an hour and then we left off to do the main temple exploring, the first one we went too was the curvy one.
We were able to find some stairs that led up so we went up and could see from the corner of the temple. Some locals saw us there and couldn’t stop laughing they waved us down so we could bring a camera down to take a picture of us. So I went down and then we had a solid 5 minute photo sessions of them wanting a picture with me, it was so funny, everyone got into it and Chris recorded it. I was eventually freed and I went upstairs and they took our picture.
We could have crossed a narrow beam to get to another stair case but asking a monk passing by he suggested against it so we settled for the corner of the first floor. We went down after and checked out a bunch of other temples, there was so many with crammed Buddha’s inside, not very roomy for the guy. We went back to the guesthouse around lunch because the temples require you to take off your footwear and walk barefoot on the grounds, and the sun was cooking the ground so walking bare foot was quite the challenge.
We went back and napped for a couple hours before heading back out at around 4:30 to catch a sun set but we did research this time and went to one of the more popular temples. On the way a lady flagged us down to offer us a tour of her village, we accepted but we didn’t have long. They were a cotton weaving village and had the two biggest Ox I had seen in south east Asia, they actually had muscle on them, the contrast between these and every other ox was huge, couldn’t believe it. She showed us how they make the scarves and cotton products which is a lot how they make the bamboo mats in Vietnam and then they showed us the old ladies that smoke the huge cigars. Had a puff and it was quite good, a very light flavor but perfect for me and a little head rush. Chris bought two, I regret passing on it now.
We left shortly after and jetted off for the temple, there was a lot of sand on the way which sucks for any kind of bike so it slowed us down, but we eventually made it to the temple, one of the bigger ones and very touristy. I didn’t want to stay there but figured it was popular for a reason. And it was, the sun set totally delivered, one of the best sunsets I’ve ever scene glimmering on the other temples and pagodas of the valley. This was similar to a painting that I had purchased if not the inspiration behind it. Either way stayed here for about 2 hours before we headed back.
Spent the night relaxing again and packing for the next day when we left for Kalaw but we knew we would get another sunrise in the morning 🙂 I forgot to mention we had a traditional Burmese breakfast which was amazing, there was a pancake bean wrap, a samosa, and some spicy noodles. It was very good. Bagan had satisfied in every way possible. Do yourself a favor and go if you happen to be going to SE Asia, truly a wonder.
Stay awesome and follow your dreams.