My Fro' In Bagan

Trip Start Apr 18, 2012
Trip End Jun 12, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay Region,
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Before I begin this post, a question: does blogging from Myanmar make the whole adventure seem way less badass? Well, I guess no one (except those who have seen me play ping pong) have accused me of being badass, so it doesn't really matter. But know this: when I'm not uploading photos to this blog, badass things are happening, like the power goes out at the merest hint of a storm, and even when we can find an Internet connection, it's often too slow to view the photos on Ira's blog. We had to watch juno's first almost-crawl second by second, as we could only download it in pieces! Oy vey!

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. B) people here seem really concerned about the heat, which is odd in a county where 85 degree weather constitutes "winter." Every time a local asks us how we like Myanmar, we always reply with which the response is invariably, "but it's too hot here! I can't even sleep with all of this heat!" The folks at Be Kind To Animals The Moon were so worried about the heat that they made us nap during the hottest hours in reclining chairs while they watched the Food Network on an outdoor satellite TV. To be fair, temperatures did reach 43 c in the sun, which, as Canadian readers might know, is really HOT.

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!
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Sandra on

This Canadian reader is loving your blog Val. And jealous of the heat but not of the bike-butt

eggie on

i have too many favorite parts of this post to comment further.

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