My Fro' In Bagan
Trip Start Apr 18, 2012
35Trip End Jun 12, 2012
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Ok, so on to Bagan, where we've been for the last three days. We left Yangon at the crack of dawn on the 23rd and arrived in Bagan mid-morning. We're staying in a lovely and somewhat swank bungalow on the Ayeryarwady River, recommended by Emily Sap, of course. Mom--you should skip to the photos so that you can stop freaking out about the looks of our Yangon abode
Bagan is strange and lovely and dotted with over 2000 temples. Really, the temples are the only items on the menu here. It's low season, due to the extreme heat (more on that later), so there are very few tourists and residents around. And there are almost no buildings besides the few hotels, some temple-side restaurants, and the thousands of temples and monasteries. So, it's just sort of this empty, magical, temple town.
Day 1: We rented zero-speed ancient bikes from our hotel and pedaled through the heat to pagoda after pagoda. Each has a unique history, but I can't remember a single thing about any particular one--I was more focused on taking in the scenery, pedaling, and watching my hair expand in the humidity. The vast number of crumbling monuments on the horizon was breathtaking (or maybe I was just out of breath from the pedaling--this was no canoe trip with Kyla, during which I hold a paddle on my lap and drink beer while she pushes us down the river--I actually had to pedal with my own muscles! And this, only a year after Kyla had to reteach me to ride a bike by running along side me).
Anyway, in summary, Day 1 involved pedaling, temples, extreme heat, and great food at roadside outdoor restaurants
Day 2: We took a not-very-sea-worthy boat across the river to view a temple and village on the other side (everyone besides my mom can see pics of the boat below). The ride was beautiful, as was the drive up to the temple, and there were great views back across the river to Bagan. We saw nary a fellow tourist the whole day--again, I have to believe that the lack of tourists is due to it being low season, as opposed to Kyla and I being so adventurous that we're the first people to follow lonely planet's directions to the pier. After our aquatic adventure, we walked to Be Kind To Animals, The Moon, for a tasty vegetarian lunch. And that leads me to an observation about both Thailand and Myanmar--folks in the tourist industry will string any positive-sounding set of words together to name a hotel or restaurant. In addition to "Be Kind toAnimals, The Moon," I've also seen "Golden Happy," "Star Bean," "Happy Smile Awesome," etc. We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool, and I spent a fair amount of time kvetching about how I would never sit comfortably again after the biking adventure of Day 1.
Day 3: Today, we rented bikes again, and now I know for sure that my butt will never be the same. We biked past endless gorgeous temples to New Bagan, in order to meet with a travel agent to book the remainder of our flights and busses in Myanmar. While we were chatting with the agent, he asked me what religion I was. When I said "Jewish" he replied, "Oh! Yes! I can tell from your eyebrows!" Sigh.
A few more observations made by Kyla: 1) waiters in Myanmar don't ask, "is your food ok?" Instead they ask, "is everything the BEST?" I like that
Oh, and one more Jew fact: Moses, the guy from the synagogue in out last post, also runs a travel agency called SHALOM MYANMAR. Love that. He helped us with our first set of tickets to Bagan and then to Mandalay, which is where we are heading now!