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Bagan.. possibly the most charming place in the world (if you manage not to get lost)

MYANMAR | Thursday, 27 August 2015 | Views [522]

OK mini bus was good, and conditioned and comfortable, and drop us of in Bagan. This is where things got a bit tricky as we were let put in Old Bagan and had to change to the horse carriage (part of the ticket) with which we went on the search for the hotel.

Now, most people generally don’t have a problem with horse carts – I do. Two large Europeans, one Burmese bloke, plus our luggage is a bit much for the horse, especially as we did not have anything booked so kept going up and down the 2km stretch trying to find accommodation.

There is a mix of place, you can get $18 bargains (unfortunately was full) and $20 hell holes.

After about an hour we finally found a place that was expensive $35 but HAD A BATH TUB!!! And TV.. but really, the bath tub sealed the deal.

We settled in for a night with lovely ice cold beer (and a bath)..

Next morning it was time to hit the temples. It’s more or less 10km stretch around the Bagan where the temples are located so, both being regular cyclists, we decided to rent the bikes… That was VERY silly!

There are electric bikes available: just go for that. People who chose these had much more relaxed look on their faces…

Bagan is humid, hot and with very little shade. Visiting the temples takes a lot of time: think about 6 hours in sun every day. Sufficient to say our speed decreased as the day went on and our cold drink stops became more frequent. Things were not helped when about 1pm (in the hottest sun) I have decided to take a short cut that led us into a middle of a field from which the only way to get out was to drag our bikes through a corn field (trying not to destroy too much of the crop).

After that I stopped being allowed to be in control of the map.

Rent your bike early. We did struggle on our second day when we slept in and at 9am there were no bikes left so we got really crappy ones from a random person.

Bagan has a steep entry fee but we did not manage to avoid it as our hotel owners did point out all of the security points in the area so we managed to visit the whole site without paying.

(At this point I need to clarify something: I do not mind paying to see historical sites when my money goes to protecting and improving it or helping local population. Unfortunately, that is very often not the case in Burma when your money goes straight to the pockets of the corrupt government.)

So about the site: IT IS AMAZING! Plenty of beautiful views from the top of the temples (you can climb many of them) and due to the enormous size of the area you rarely feel surrounded by tourists. Apart from the most important moment of the day: the sunset.

If you do choose one of the more popular pagodas to see the sun away, arrive early!

Its an absolute pleasure to just spend few days wondering about the pagodas, eating delicious food, we even saw white elephants (on the truck).

Because of the time span of when the temples were being constructed many of them are truly unique and you don’t feel like you keep seeing the same one over and over again. Most popular temples have refreshment stops which is crucial in this weather.

Old Bagan in itself is quite pleasant, pretty much just one road and then one side street with the tourist backpacker restaurants and bars.

We spent 3 nights there (I personally do get tired of temples are a while) and it was a truly wonderful place to visit.

Tags: bagan, burma, myanmar, on the road, sunsets, temples

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