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Published: February 3rd 2007
Somehow, I arrived in Bagan still able to function. It had been a 15 hour bus ride, with seats designed for midgets. I was locked into place, just barely able to fit into my seat, and my headrest was lodged between my shoulder blades. I didn't think it was possible for a 6' guy to have this kind of problem. Live and learn. The bus had almost all locals on it, with the exception of David, an American who had moved to Northwestern Australia about 10 years ago. I was starting to doubt how much I was going to like this town, why I had spent all the time in the bus only to spend one night here and then do the whole ride all over again. It also took some time for me to get oriented, thanks to the Lonely Planet map showing the bus station on the wrong side of the road, thus making it hard to get oriented at 5am. Once this was discovered, I ventured over to one of the guesthouses in the book, but all their single rooms were booked, so I went next door to an Indian run Guesthouse, and settled in very nicely there.
After a nice hot shower, the day was looking better, and I went out to get a bike and tour around. The system in place for paying the site fee for the Bagan Architectural zone is as follows: pay the guesthouse $10, look around for as many days as you want. So, after getting my handwritten receipt, I ventured out, got a bike for until 1pm the next day, and ventured out to discover what would turn out to be the best site of the trip so far. 4400 temples in 28 sqkm. Fantastic, area, and nothing beats traveling around on a bike, going down dirt paths, and ending up all alone at a temple that is over 1000 years old. Hours floated by as I went from 'lost' temple to deserted complex, down dirt roads, and then occasionally bumping into a tour group and some hawkers. After catching a fantastic sunset from the top of one of the temples, I went back, joined David for dinner, and must have been asleep by 9pm.
I wanted to get an early start before it heated up, and was up for breakfast by 6:30, then off to catch the rest of the
historical zone before I had to be back to get my 3pm bus back to Yangon. It started off fantastic, more great sights, fewer people, nice soldiers on the road (directing me to the next spot) who spoke remarkably good English. Then, I noticed that my left peddle was vibrating, and the peddle fell off. That has never happened before! I pushed it to another temple, and one of the hawkers there who sold paintings came over and helped me get it re-attached. He refused payment, and was just content to be helpful. I figured out how to bike along and kick in the peddle to keep it from falling off, and was able to make it back with only minor delays. I had plenty of time before the bus, and had a great Indian plate with specialties like mango pickle and yogurt, as well as some completely unknown fruit. Never had it before, have no idea what it was, and may never have it again. All I know is that it had the texture of a pear, but a much stronger smell, and was about the size of a cherry. Well feed, very content with the stay, and well
rested, I went to the station for my bus back. This time, I had much more room, but this came at the expense of being on the back bench of the bus, so I felt every bump and jiggle of the rough road all the way down to Yangon. And trust me, there were many to be felt. I didn't sleep at all unless we were at a rest stop. But, I shared a taxi back to town with two French Canadians from Vancouver, and was able to get to sleep within an hour of arriving. I slept for a few hours, and then was up for a full day of sightseeing in Yangon.
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