We spent four days in Bagan and I could've easily spent another four. Regarded as one of the best “lost” ancient cities in Asia. Some even say it's better than the lost temples of Angkor in Cambodia, one of the wonders of the world.
Before we arrived we'd heard it was a $25 entrance, a kick in the teeth if you're travelling on a budget. To be honest the entrance fee was justified...there's 2000 temples in (I think) a 25 square mile radius. We paid $6.60 for the temple in Yangon and there's only really one temple there...
Had the temples in Bagan been in a city and had separate entrance fees etc then it wouldn’t have been that good. Both me and Dave aren't really temple people (are there any?), as far as I'm concerned once you've seen one temple in a country you've pretty much seen them all. It's like churches for example, yeah they're nice buildings but they don't really vary too much in appearance.
Bagan is temples scattered around jungle which makes it an incredibly picturesque place! Literally every way you turn your head there's a good picture. I got sick of taking them at one point but still had to continue because it was so nice.
We booked before we arrived online with the couple we'd met. We stayed at “Northern Breeze” in New Bagan. It was £7.50 per night per person but the best value we could find. It was quite a fancy place, they provided soap, shower flip-flops, towels...the works! They even had one of them posh round sinks!
It's a shame their wifi didn't match up to the rest of the amenities, but you can't have it all I guess.
We hired “e-bikes” which are mopeds that have been converted and run off car batteries. They only get up to 45km/h (I can sense my Mum's relief) which is a nightmare, and that's only if there's one person riding. Me and Dave were rushing back on the last day to catch our bus and wanted to fit an extra temple in and it stopped working when we went uphill! I say say hill, it was a very slight incline.
There's around five main temples (according to Lonely Planet) which, as with most temples, are best viewed from outside. Once you've been inside one they're all the same. I much preferred the smaller ones though, some of which had secret staircases leading up and you could just climb all over them.
One day, while everyone else stayed in the room ill, I went out alone and found what was my favourite one. Situated in the south of the temple area, it had three staircases going up each level, then when you got to the top level you could climb further up. I had a view of the whole area stood about 20 metres high. Had it not been rainy season then the view for sunrise and sunset would've been perfect with the sunlight falling on all the temples. The view was amazing!
The temples were build over a 220 year period from 1287. Originally there was 4000 temples! It must have been some city!
I rode into one of the little villages and an ancient way of life is still apparent! The farming is done by Ox pulling carts and them things tractors pull to turn up the ground. They grow cotton, and turn it into the beautiful bags, lungis, scarfs etc on the farm. Using really old cotton tools, the like I’ve only ever seen on primary school trips to mills! Old wooden devices. The lady, as with all Burmese people, was incredibly friendly and smiley and very happy to show me the process by which she makes the cotton from the fields into the bags etc. She was also smoking what can only be described as a big corn on the cob, which tasted like burning...I'm not really sure what that was about. They also make cigars which Myanmar is famous for.
So far the country is beautiful but the people are making it, they're so friendly! It's a nice change from India to walk down the street and have everyone smile at you!
Next we're getting off the beaten path and heading north to Hsipaw. I'll be doing some more trekking to some villages to see first hand real
Burmese culture and to see their ancient way of life. Dave will be staying around Hsipaw and getting a scooter to check out the surrounding area which is meant to be beautiful.
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