I wasn’t sure I would make it to Bagan in one piece, considering our minivan driver’s somewhat erratic behaviour. We zoomed down roads, paths, towns, toll gates at a steady 80km/h – all under the influence of beetlenut, which, let’s not forget, is a mild intoxicant. Despite a few close shaves, I arrived at my hostel safe and sound, and soon made friends with a lovely Dutch girl, Joske. We agreed to visit some temples together the following day and I made my way down to the river where I enjoyed a tasty cocktail and fab views over the Irrawaddy at sunset. On my way home, I have to admit I stopped for pizza – only my second – and it was delicious.
The following morning, having heard about and seen the consequences of more than a few ebike (electric scooters) accidents, i chickened out of renting one and, together with Joske, opted for a horse and cart. Off we went, slowly and bumpily, into Old Bagan, where there are temples as far as the eye can see. Our guide took us to some of the larger famous ones but also to smaller ones with great views. It really is quite baffling to see so many and, at this time of year, it’s beautiful to pick out the terracotta red and glistening gold out of the lush green plains. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the famed vegetarian restaurant, Be Kind To Animals – The Moon, and managed to make it back to base just before the heavens opened. Later that day, we followed others from the hostel for a sunset cruise down – a stunning and peaceful way to end the day.
Next morning, the alarm went off at 4.30am in order to make it to the top of a less frequented temple for sunrise. My new friend Gill and I were alone for a fair while, before only 3 or 4 couples joined us to witness the clouds redden and shimmer as the sun climbed up. When you see something like that, it makes the early start feel worth it! We returned to the hostel for a quick breakfast before heading out for a bit of a wander in New Bagan and actually stumbled across a whole bunch of deserted small temples. We walked around and chatted to some locals, watched kids play football and generally witnessed day-to-day local life. I was surprised at how easy it was to escape the crowds in somewhere as touristy as Bagan!
To avoid the blistering heat, we spent $5 to enjoy a smart hotel’s swimming pool. Despite the most expensive Coca Cola I’ve ever drunk ($3 for a can!), it was a brilliant way to spend the afternoon and we mostly had the pool to ourselves!
I apologise for not uploading many pics but the wifi is very slow and I’m currently on a local SIM so trying to use my data wisely!
More on Kalaw and Inle soon 🙂