Burma's ancient city

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Golden village

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bagan, Myanmar - Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar). From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

So a little history into Bagan, but we weren't quite there yet! Boarding a night bus at 6pm is a little unusual as you feel like you should go to sleep but it's too early! We had a break at a busy roadside area of random food courts and stinky bathrooms! Dave boy and I shared some crisps and a fizzy orange! The whole time Ive been in SE Asia I have not been strong enough to open a bag of crisps normally, I have to peel the side or use my teeth! Dave was having trouble sleeping but apparently I wasn't!!

We arrived in Nyaung U at a sandy bus station. This area is a couple kilometers from the temples and Old Bagan and is where most of the hostels and guesthouses are. In typical ginger adventure fashion, we have nothing booked! We hire two separate bicycles to take us to a guesthouse. When I say bicycle, it is a construction of a bike with a small side cart that has a wooden seat. With my two bags and I, the old man was struggling to peddle in the sand......uphill!! Takes me back to Pingjao in China. I wasn't sure if Dave was following, but then I heard him offer to walk behind his bicycle, the cyclist was having none of it! The ride cost ten pence! Crazy! The guesthouse we wanted was full, but the language they were using plus being in a pretty sleepy state, it took a while for me to grasp that there was another guesthouse behind the one we wanted!

Fifteen minutes later we are both fast asleep!!

A few hours later, we come to and plan our day ahead! We were both very hungry so after hiring bicycles for the day, we wander over to an Indian restaurant and enjoy a tasty veggie curry with lots of typical Myanmar extras. The town of Nyaung U has one main road full of cares, agents, bars and restaurants with other roads nearby holding the guesthouses. When I say roads, I mean a long strip of sand, which proved very difficult to peddle on.

After a tasty lunch, we headed to Old Bagan. The roads were quiet, young children waver as we cycled by and I felt the freedom like I enjoyed on Rapa Nui! For some reason, the basket on the front of my bike kept undoing the lid to my water so I'd have to shout to Dave ahead to stop as I dodged traffic to find my bottle top.

We cycled all the way into Old Bagan and the coast to see ... Pagoda. These areas are a shoes off place, and socks as well! Seeing as I planned to send lots of postcards i purchased some from a very young kid. He must have been 5 or 6, but as Dave hadn't bought any, we acquired a new friend for 5 minutes! She wouldn't give up, kept stomping her feet and offering all sorts of different prices! Eventually, after she saw us with a wad of notes buying some water, Dave gave in and bought ten for himself!

We cycled over to a nearby temple and climbed the edge. Again we were followed, promising we'd take a look at the store on the way down! The construction of the temples is magnificent and the views from the top were perfect! Peace and quiet for as far as you could see! The day was very hot, above 36 C and we were clinging to all the shade we could find.

We visited another temple before cycling off for ten minutes to find a temple we could climb in peace and we sat at the top for ages! The area of Bagan is so peaceful! You really feel at one with nature, it was so quiet that you could hear the flapping of bird wings as they flew by! I sat there lost in the scenery. We also enjoyed a spot of people watching, a Shepard with his flock and some young children playing games in the sand!

This would turn out to be my favourite temple and Bagan was becoming my favourite destination for historic temples. There were very few tourists (unlike Angkor Wat) and not as much humidity. After weeks surrounded by noisy destinations and drunk noisy tourists, it was such a relief to be away from all that and enjoying the company of my brother and the delights of Bagan.

The cycle home took about half an hour. I lost Dave at one point, and found him back up the road walking his bike! His handle bars had come loose, so he couldn't ride it anymore! He haggled his money back for the day!

We washed the caked sand off our kegs, face and hands and ventured out to find dinner and wifi! We found both in the same place and not sure how long our dollars would last, we both opted for cheap fried rice/noodle. We stretched our budget to share a beer as well, especially after a hot day in the heat and sand!

Next day, we hired bicycles again! This time we cycled further away to New Bagan! It took about an hour of peddling and there were a few hills. Dave boy needed a rest when he got there for his back apparently!! We took a quick look around New Bagan before finding a street stall for lunch, mmmmmm more fried rice!!

The rest of the afternoon involved slowly cycling back towards Old Bagan, checking out temples and pagodas. Some were busy, some were very quiet and allowed more time to sit and reflect upon the area! Everywhere you turned there was a temple! Temple after temple, only once you've been there do you marvel at how many there are! Each one unique and different to another!

Dave's handle bars survived this time, and in true border fashion, we hit the same restaurant for more wifi and I forgot to mention the free peanuts!! To my liking, there isn't much to do in the evening, plus, you're unlikely to meet a party tourist here in Bagan!

Next morning, we were going off the tourist path, we caught a horse and cart to a truck stop and found a truck to take us to Pokkuku. Normally it involved taking a boat but a bridge has just been completed. From Pokkuku, our destination was to be Monywa, just like the hostel owner in Yangon recommended!!

Next stop, Monywa.
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charlotte on

Love seeing all this tasty food, it's making me hungry here in unadventorous food territory of Colombia and South America, give me SPICES! I also love food and cooking so blog a lot too, maybe we can be in the same place one day to try some tasty treats!

The Other Brother on

Hang on...the cost to hire a bike for a day was probably about 20p and Dave still saw fit to get his money back? Shocking! He has been hanging around with you to much!

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