Sunday, October 2, 2011

beaut bagan and brillo b/day

It was a 6 hour bus ride from Mandalay to Bagan in a comfortable air-conditioned bus. There were only 3 seats across the width of the bus so plenty of room for corpulent Westerners to spread out. Pedro and Claudia were on the same bus along with another couple of lasses who we met in Mandalay, Claire (OZ) and Anna (Canada).

But there was still the ubiquitous karaoke tv and the appalling road to deal with. We seem to be taking the back road to Bagan because surely this cannot be the main Mandalay - Bagan thoroughfare?

bus karaoke

and it was ka ka. (instant coffee, powdered milk and sugar all-in-one)

Once in Bagan Claudia, Pedro and myself hired a pony and trap to take us around several of the guest houses to see what was on offer.

We finally settled on the New Park. They wanted $16 for a single room, but when it looked like I was about to go elsewhere, they suddenly admitted to have 'economy' singles for $10. The room was ok but the bathroom was extremely shabby. I had to move from the first one as the ceiling fan sounded like the incoming choppers on Apocalypse Now. I felt a beheading was imminent.

The second room's fan was quieter - but was jammed on the lowest setting. So I was supplied with some pliers and had to take the knob off the switch and use the pliers to adjust the fan setting. There was also a fight to get hot water.

When they turned on the heating element, it took a full 10 minutes for the hot water to run through the warren of pipes to reach my shower rose. Not so much a rose - rather a skanky thistle that sprayed water in every direction but downwards. I had to stand a metre away from under the shower head in order to get wet.

That evening we celebrated Claire's birthday at a nearby restaurant serving excellent food.

anna, claire, terry, pedro and claudia

The following morning o casal Português and I hired bicycles for the day and set off to explore the fields and temples of Bagan.

Bagan is wonderful. Really really wonderful. One of my absolute favourite places so far in my world travels.

Almost 42 sq kms in size, it is a fertile green plain (at least it is now at the end of the monsoon season) nestled in the crook of the Irriwaddy River. Originally consisting of over 5,000 pagodas this number has been reduced to around 2,200 after a severe earthquake in 1975. The majority of these were built in the 11th century to 13th century.

ananda temple

ananda temple

ananda temple

Whilst out riding we accidentally found ourselves in the grounds of a wonderful expensive looking hotel down on the riverfront. It had a wonderful setting, beautiful gardens and a swimming pool and on an impulse I booked myself in for one night on my birthday eve. The standard room cost $28 including buffet breakfast. (NB: a buffet breakfast to backpackers means a lottery windfall!!)

Pedro and Claudia soon decided they deserved a treat after having been backpacking on the road for the previous 6 months and also booked in for the night.

bagan thande hotel

reception notice board!!

eating outside the hotel as it was too expensive inside

local postcard selling girls

The photographs can't possibly do justice to how incredible the Bagan scenery is. It is the range and scope of the pagodas that is breathtaking. Once you have been inside several there isn't the need to enter more. But all over the plain there are excellent vantage points with which to absorb the splendour that is Bagan.

So I spent my birthday in a fantastic setting with wonderful companions, and later on my birthday afternoon I flew back to Yangon for one night before leaving to return to Sydney.

Trip over!

* click to enlarge


Lyngve Skrede said...

This beautiful place is on my radar as well!! But your stories about the terrible long journeys by train and bus, makes me think twice about it :-)

TC said...

After the places you've been and the things you've done the buses and trains here will not trouble you at all!!