13.03.2019 - 16.03.2019 38 °C
Bagan is what you could call a temple town and one of Myanmar's main regional attractions. Our six hour bus journey was uncomfortable and the best part was that it actually only took four hours. Thank god. I'm not sure what got lost in translation but it was a welcome relief given the comfort or lack thereof on the bus, not to mention the bumpy roads. Poor Alberto is not a huge fan of the 'food stops' where you should eat whatever surprise is on offer but I've been feeling adventurous since I've been feeling well and enjoying the thrill of lunch for two for less than €4. We have been spending more than that generally though to eat in nicer establishments but you're still talking about dinner and drinks only costing around €12. Can't complain. Early sickness aside, the last ten days in Myanmar have been great.
We arrived to Bagan late afternoon and after the initial shock of being told we were booked into a six bed dorm room for three nights (my fault... soz Alberto) we were able to pay an extra €20 to move to a private room. Phew. When you're booking so many things in terms of flights, accom and transport etc. it's easy to make a mistake. Best to double check those flight details together before you accidentally end up in Outer Mongolia. Here's a photo of the two of us in our new jobs 'working'. I'm writing this blog post while Alberto uploads photos and researches one of our stops in India. I'm not sure who he's talking to on the phone though... The wifi has been painfully slow at times outside of the Capital but we were warned in advance and are remaining calm and patient. Most of the time.
Bagan reminds me of a much quieter version of Siem Reap in Cambodia (which is adjacent to Ankor Wat). Most establishments are clustered together on one dirt road and are well set up for foreign visitors with international cuisine and even a cocktail bar on offer. We hired a Tuk Tuk driver for Thursday. He picked us up at 8am and we spent the morning and early afternoon visiting just some of the best temples, monasteries and historical settlements the region has the offer.
There are more than 2,000 of them! Most were built between the 11th and 13th centuries and a few have been restored (albeit some better than others).
The heat is stifling by lunch time, circa 38 degrees so as much as we enjoyed it by 2pm we had to call it a day and get indoors. The following morning we hired the same Tuk Tuk driver to collect us at 5.30am so we could head to a vantage spot to watch 15 hot air balloons ascend during sunrise. We'd have loved to go on one of ourselves but at US$300 each it was just too much to justify given that we're backpacking vs. being on a holiday. Still though, it was spectacular to watch and possibly my highlight so far.
If you have the budget here's the view you would be able to see from one of the balloons. It's pretty spectacular.
Today we flew back to Yangon for one final night, avoiding a twelve hour bus ride. We spent the day on foot exploring.
We also visited the Sula Paya in the heart of the city, where traffic congestion shares the same space as a 2,000 year old golden temple. They have a ritual here where you can pour water over a buddha and a certain animal depending on the day you were born. It would have been rude not to. Fun fact, Alberto was born on a Monday and I was born on a Wednesday.
Myanmar, it's been wonderful. If you've been to other countries in South East Asia before and you're looking for something a little bit different we'd highly recommend it. Tomorrow morning we take a flight to India via our one way ticket to Kolkata (aka Calcutta). I feel like the whole backpacking part of my life has been building up to this country and I hope we're ready for it...