Bagan & A Sore Bum

Trip Start Dec 28, 2011
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
New Wave Guesthouse

Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay,
Friday, January 13, 2012

Singapore Fairytale
Had a long breakfast at guesthouse while chatting away with the owner's son. Currently unemployed, he helps out at the guesthouse for a bit of pocket money. Although armed with a degree majoring in English Literature, he reckons that the degree is not of any use, so he tried taking the entrance exam in Yangon to be an english translator. He didn't make it though, only 90 out of 400 applicants passed it nationally. Sometimes he would work as a taxi driver and would hand over his entire earnings to his mother who in turn would give him a daily pocket money of 1000 kyats. Most of the burmese that I had chatted with, have a fairytale impression of Singapore as a mega-wealthy and clean country. Many wished to visit Singapore, yet never had the opportunity to even visit Yangon. The very mention of "Singapore", and they will go "aaahh..ASEAN...brothers!!!".

Mount Popa Planning
I spent the later part of the morning scouring information for my onwards tavel to Pyay and also possibly a day trek to Mount Popa. There were two options available for Mount Popa - the longer trek to the crater and the shorter trek to the Stupa/pagodas top. The idea was to find 3 other travellers to share a private car to Mount Popa. Unfortunately no luck was available at all the guesthouses I had visited. Thus decided to proceed with my Bagan cycling, then return to town to finalise plans at 6pm.

New Bagan
Yesterday's buttwrecking cycling route had taken me to most of the must-see sights, so today was more casual, exploring more of the off-beaten tracks. Cycling 5km along Anawratha Road and out of Old Bagan, the sights were largely ordered along Bagan-Chauk Road towards New Bagan town. Mingalazedi Paya looked grand but was closed to public access. Entering Myinkaba village, Manuha Paya located on the main road, features enormous buddha statues in impossibly tight spaces.

I made it pass New Bagan and headed straight to the riverside Lawkanada Paya which has excellent views out to the Ayeyarwaddy River. Spotted some villagers washing their clothes and bathing in their longyis at the river, so I went down to take a few shots. Lunch at the outskirts of New Bagan was particularly good because for the first time, my fried noodles was not excessively oily.

Making my way back towards Old Bagan was a chore - uphills. At Abeyadana Pahto, is this squarish brick platform and within its dark corridors hides a secret passageway that brings you to the open roof terrace. The view looks out towards east and the majority of Bagan's archaeological wonders. This will make an excellent sunrise spot.

Thousand Years
Back in Old Bagan, taking a breather under shade with sugarcane juice in hand, the vendor informed me that an alternative sunset spot to Shwesandow Paya (where loads of tourists will be) is the nearby Mi-nyein-gon. With only 1 hour to sundown, I headed straight to the top level of Mi-nyein-gon which also features 2 secretive passageways. The view back towards east was amazing as the fading sunlight lent its glow on thousands of pagodas paying homage to the setting sun everyday for the last thousand years.

With no time to waste, I made haste to Nyaung U and waited for possible trekkers looking to share a trip to Mount Popa. I had no luck, so I raced to the bus station just in time before 7pm closing to secure my bus seat to Magwe tomorrow. Apparently there is no direct bus route to Pyay. The option is to travel to Magwe 5 hours and buy another bus ticket to Pyay from there. The alternative option could be riding the bus to Yangon for the full price but alight at Pyay.

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