EXPLORING BAGAN – TEMPLE HEAVEN
Two pictures that really motivated me to go to South East Asia were the images of Angkor Wat and the temples of Bagan. Looking at pictures of Bagan when I was back home in the UK and then looking exactly where it was on a map just made we think how it seemed like another world away. Then, just like that… here I am.
So, I travelled to Bagan with a girl I met called Bang who was also staying at the same hostel as me in Yangon. To make sure we wouldn’t get ripped off on arrival at Bagan I emailed the hotel to ask how much the taxi would be from the bus station. So, now I am prepared I know for 2 people we shouldn’t pay no more than 10,000Kyat. Great… no more getting ripped off…
So, off on the overnight bus we go. Yep, AC on full blast and this is the moment I wish I brought my thick hello kitty socks but at least I have my hoodie to hand.
The overnight bus gets into Bagan bus station at 4.30am and I praised the almighty Lord upon our arrival because I thought I was going to turn into a giant piece of ice.
As we get off the bus we are automatically bombarded with taxi and horse and cart drivers. When I ask how much the journey would be I get told 15,000 Kyat. I am lik,e hell no I’m paying no more than 10,00. After a bit of haggling me and Bang go with a horse and kart for 10,000. All I can say the horse and cart was quite the experience.
As tired as I am I can’t go to sleep. So I go to reception to get the wifi password and BOOM. I see two guys I had seen from the bus station and we all get talking and they invite me to join them for a guide tour around the temples for the day. I’m open to opportunities so I’m like ‘Hell yeah, why not’. The guide that was arranged through the hostel would cost us 35USD which was a bargain. We all had to rent e bikes which left me a bit uneasy as I never did it before. I asked Bang if she could drive with me in the back to try and get out of driving my own. Haha.. it worked.
Where did I Stay:
Shwe Na Di Hostel:
Arriving absolutely knackered at the hotel I get given my room which was a nice private room with private shower room.
My room was fitted with two separate single beds which was clean with AC and a fan. After staying in dorms this was a really nice feeling to know all this space was mine… all mine! 😀
Within my rate breakfast was included and I really enjoyed it. The young boys who serve you are ADORABLE! Always asking if every thing was ok and if you would like more food. I got served with fruit, eggs, samosas or some traditional thing with honey. They also gave you juice and tea and coffee of the table.
Where did I eat:
Bagan is full of restaurants to cater for tourists and on many occasions restaurants didn’t even serve Burmese food. I found the prices at these restaurants really expensive especially when your travelling long term and eating out for every meal.
This place has western food, Chinese and Thai food. The food is good but defo a tourist place and the price reflects on that.
- Mr Bagan:
This is local! Burmese food all the way and cheap! Meals would cost like 1,800kyat where for example in Weatherspoons it would cost 5,000kyat. Yep just my kind of place. They did great fresh juice also which were yum!
- Bibo Restaurant:
I went here because it had really good reviews but honestly for the price and the portion that you got it was really disappointing for me. I ordered the fish curry and I swear down I got like 4 pieces of fish. I was also dying for something sweet and ordered the steamed banana with coconut milk. I am pretty sure I am diabetic now. Lol
Bagan is one of those places where time stands still. Riding on an e bike through those dusty roads makes you feel like you’re in a different time zone. The one thing I didn’t really expect was all the lights and market stalls outside the temples and pagodas, some of the signs were lit up like Vegas lights! Talking about pagodas there are so many I would recommend that you get a guide just to understand what exactly you’re looking at. Otherwise honestly you get the feeling that they are all the same and I think you don’t really get to appreciate them.
– Funny story time –
So I am that person that everyyyy where I go something always happens to me. So Bagan would be no different. One day I made Vito rent an e bike because Bang had to go back to Yangon and I was too scared to rent one alone! haha…
So I sat at the back with Andre (#winning sorry Vito). We decided to go for sunset at Shwesandaw Pagoda and on the way back as it is now dark, we go to switch the head lights on and ……. nothing. No lights. NADA.
This place has no street lights on some parts of the road you can’t even see two feet ahead. GREAT! I’m so dumb there is me thinking crap we can’t see where we are going. But after a few minutes I then realised, hang on a minute PEOPLE CANT SEE US either!
So, genius me I think… IPHONE TORCH!! With 8% battery I whip out my Iphone, stretch out my arm out as far as it will go resting it on Andre’s shoulder trying to give him some sort of light. It was hilarious and car’s were beeping at us like ‘YES WE KNOW WE HAVE NO LIGHTTTT’.
I must say sitting at the back it was so beautiful as you could see every single star in the sky and when I told Andre he thought he would take a look up to the sky too where I was like ‘Mate, you watch the road as we already driving blind as it is!’.
It was the most entertaining, hilarious, unforgettable drive back to the hotel ever. Those type of moments you feel slightly uncomfortable purely because you think ‘I COULD DIE HERE’ but funny at the same time.
Tips for Bagan:
- Do get a guide for the day and go around the Pagoda’s.
- If you’re scared of heights like me go straight to Shwesandaw Pagoda for sunrise or sunset as they have hand rails. I got you boo.
- Make sure you carry a scarf as at the major Pagoda’s you need to cover your shoulders and also wear something that covers your knees.
- Do sunrise if you can get up early… and it is early. 4.30am wakeup call I’m afraid but the colours in the sky are breath taking.
- For sunset if you want to visit a Pagoda less touristy if you drive towards Shwesandaw Pagoda. Once you see it on the left hand side go straight until you see a road on the right and then take it. On the left there will be a small Pagoda with the same view as Shwesandaw but less people. HOWEVER be warned it is a steep climb and I personally couldn’t do it. Very frustrating as I know how many sunset opportunities I have missed due to my stupid fear of heights.
- If you are a dog person be prepared that this is Asia. One time me and some friends saw a poor dog half paralysed with only its front legs dragging itself along the road. Be prepared that this isn’t home and there is probably no RSPCA and people don’t treat dogs the same way like in Europe. There are a lot of stray dogs out here so be prepared to see things you might not like.
Finally here are my pictures from Bagan:
So that’s Bagan guys! Did you like Bagan?? Tell me what you thought about it.
Next destination….. Kalaw trekking for 3 days to Inle Lake!!