When I was in Myanmar, I did it on a rushing 8 days trip with a long list of places to visit. I ended up having to choose Bagan over Mandalay and it was just a brief visit to Bagan given the poor intercity transportation. The bus ride was pain in the ass through the bumpy curvy dusty road leading to Bagan. It was no express bus meant for tourists, it was a local bus meant to cater the need to travel for the locals.
At 10a.m., the bus stopped at Meiktila for 30 minutes. I came down from the bus with aching legs. Everything was surprisingly peaceful. Three months before my arrival, Meiktila was in a state of emergency following the violence against Muslims due to Buddhist mob violence. A local gentleman smiled at me and pointed at the coffee shop across the road. Coffee, he said and then worked on hand gestures to signal polite invitation. I tailed him to a table at the coffee shop joined by another man.
As it was my fifth day in Myanmar, I was already used to drinking coffee from less hygienic cup which was common throughout Myanmar. On a table, there will be a bowl within which, four cups are turned upside down. Once a customer has used the cup, the cup will then be dipped in the bowl for self-cleaning. Unhygienic but I still used it.
The two guys who were with me did not speak conversational English. It was the three of us seating at one table in silent, enjoying our coffee. When the time came to board the bus again, one of the guys paid my drink and refused to take my money. I was touched by his meaningful act for I knew locals in Myanmar did not earn much yet they still managed to pay for a drink for traveller like me. One of the traits of the Burmese that I take to liking and it changes my perceptive of the Burmese refugees that we have here in Malaysia.
I am glad to report I survived the thirteen hour bus ride from Nyaung Swee Junction to Bagan.
It was rainy in Bagan. I was a bit worried for I only have two days and 1 night to spend. If weather did not permit, I would not be able to bring back photos of Bagan, the ancient city founded during second century. I took the tricycle for 1000kyat to find a guesthouse.
I found a decent guesthouse at the stretch of the main road by the name of Shwe Na Di Guesthouse. It was basic accommodation with breakfast, which is a stealer. Plus, I was travelling on my own and on a brief visit to Bagan. I was given the room nearest to the receptionist. Oh yes, the room was without attached bathroom. So I had to walk to the back of the guesthouse to do my business. It was a scary adventure for a single backpacker like me to go to toilet at night.
Read a review by Beontheroad.
I asked the guesthouse staff on renting a bike. I was warned not to take the bull cart for they were very expensive for one person. So I thought biking was my only choice. I would die walking around Bagan. It was a huge chunk of barren land which seemed haunted with spirits. God knows what had happened in Bagan which was founded centuries ago. I only only needed a bike to rent, a guide as a package was what you needed during a brief visit to Bagan. I was lucky for a man named Paung Bi offered to guide me.
As we cycled into the Old Bagan, Paung guided me to a field with stupas scattered on the land. Well, it was the case in Bagan. A land of stupas. I didn’t remember the name of the place, I was intrigued with the magnificent views. I could hardly find any beings around the field. A sense of abandonment. The structures of the stupa and temples must be very strong for surviving the 400 earthquakes as Myanmar lies on the active earthquake zone.
Almost forgotten about the bus ride from hell, I was lost in Bagan Plains.
I did not get clear blue sky pictures because it was drizzling in Bagan when we started our biking tour.
On my first day of brief visit to Bagan, I also went to Ananda Phaya, Gaw Daw Palin Phaya, King Anawrahta and Kwanshitta’s Palace Excavation Site and one of the sunset temple.
Too bad, no sunset for me in Bagan.