May I just start with the fact that Myanmar has the fanciest and most comfortable night buses I have ever seen. Yes, in India we took a bus that had an actual double bed in it, which was very nice. But here you get leather seats that recline well, a lot of legroom, a pillow and a blanket, snacks, a stewardess. Everything you need for a comfortable overnight travel from Yangon to Bagan.
We arrived in Bagan very early, around 7-8am. Our hotel was just outside the town (10k) so luckily the driver let us off at a random stop. V thought I might want a nice place to stay at after my 10 days of sitting on the floor so he went posh with the hotel. 🙂 We chilled in the lobby for about an hour and then could get into our room.
A quick free shuttle ride to the city and we were enjoying our breakfast. Funnily enough my roomie from vipassana was having her breakfast at the exact same cafe with her hostel buddies. 😀
Before food we checked a couple of the scooter places and 2 ladies at Green & Green travel and tours appealed to us so we rented one from them. Electric scooter is the thing in Bagan, without that you will miss out on all the fun. Now prepared we started our temple tour.
After a few temples and lunch we decided it would be good to take a break at home and then come back for sunset tour and dinner later. That’s what we did.
We didn’t have a proper plan where to go for the sunset, so the trip was a bit of a fail. I did get good recommendations from Yichie after vipassana. But we hadn’t marked them down on a map so the sun went down before we could find a good place to enjoy it. Some people were sitting on a temple, but the gate was closed and unclimbable so we figured they must have had a special guide with a key (if that is at all possible).
Dinner and cocktails at Weather spoons – eavesdropping on the discussion happening next to us with Americans involved.
As our hotel was about 10k out and we decided to take a break at home during the day spending 20k worth of electricity on it, plus the temple tours, meant we ran out of power on the way home. 😀 We got off and started walking with it. It was really dark and we were on a big road.
Soon a man stopped trying to help us. He didn’t speak any English, but our situation was pretty obvious. He then directed us to a friend’s place who said we could leave the bike there and the guy will give us a ride to the hotel where we can get transport to come pick up the bike. After some explaining they finally understood that the bike is not rented from the hotel, so there is no emergency transport available. We continued walking.
After a while the same guy showed up again, this time with a rope. He was so determined to help us, bless this amazing person! We attached our scooter to his motorbike with that rope and V stayed on to control it. I got on the back of the guy’s motorbike and that’s how he towed us all the way to our hotel. 😀 not the safest option, but it worked. He also didn’t want to accept any money, but we insisted. He went so much out of his way and seemed truly a wonderful person.
We had the cable so the hotel staff nicely plugged in our bike for the night.
The next morning we got up insanely early, headed off when it was still dark so we could catch the sunrise on one of the temples. This time we got to the one Yichie had recommended. It was a cold ride, but luckily we have our down jackets.
When Yichie mentioned you have to climb a fence I had something simpler in mind, not a tiny gap between the top of a gate and the wall. 😀 There were 2 options/gates, we compared them and then just put on our best acrobatic performance and climbed over. There were quite many people already there, but we made it just in time. (She later admitted she was a bit doubtful about us tall people being able to climb it. :D)
The view was MAGICAL! Yesterday I didn’t get the fascination of Bagan that people were talking about, but now I understood.
The hot air balloons (ride is apparently super expensive ca 300 USD per person) rising from one side and traveling to the other. Beautiful!
We rode back to the hotel to have our complimentary breakfast. They had choco pops with proper milk! I had 3 bowls (in addition to all the other food). I had been craving for exactly this taste for such a long time. It was the best surprise to finally find this on the menu.
The poolside provided us a lovely afternoon of sunbathing, listening and reading books. What a life.
We went for lunch in town and then did our sunset round. We sat on sunset hill and observed the sun drop behind the thousands of temples.
Next day repeat. In the morning we were cruising around catching the balloons.
Instead of chilling by the pool today we got educated on the technique of making lacquerware. Also quickly toured the local market and focused on the main temples to make sure we have seen all the most important ones.
We had kept an eye on the paintings, but usually they look the same. Today we found THE ONE. Two lovely ladies making sand paintings in the shadow of a temple on a crazy hot day. Honestly, taking shoes off to walk “on” a temple is painful when it includes a section in the sun. Imagine spending the whole day trying to catch the shadow and still be creative.
For sunset we found a temple with a nice view and easy access on top. But we were too early and couldn’t be bothered to chill for an hour+. So we went to explore. Went with a scooter through a waterless river, rather steep. Got to the other side and it was a field. So had to turn back and go through the river again. One of Vs requested adventures, goes without saying. 😀
When we got back to that temple police was there commanding everyone to get down. So we quickly scootered to another place. A salesman was so nice and gave us a good tip which temple in the complex to aim for and people on the temple gave good advice how to climb up. Also good to have long legs. So we had the perfect final sunset.
Honestly, people here in Myanmar have been amazing. Super nice, giving hints and advice with a smile and not expecting a tip.
On the way to town for dinner we again ran out of power. So I got off and walked the last couple of kilometres whilst V scooted slowly with “full power” back to the ladies to return the bike.
Perfectly planned to get sharply to city before everyone else we got seats at the best restaurant in town Bibo. Half an hour later and the resto was full not accepting anyone, whilst we were enjoying delicious happy hour cocktails.
Myanmar has the beer cork lottery, which has proven very useful so far giving us free beer. Instead of taking a new free beer you can pay with it for the one you had.
The last hotel shuttle packed us very tightly and we amused ourselves back to the hotel.
The next morning we had breakfast and chilled by the pool until the microbus came to pick us up for a ride to Kalaw. They were rather late and it broke down a bit on the way, but spoiler alert: we did make it nicely.