Posted: under Myanmar.
Yangon was my first stop in Myanmar but it obviously wasn’t the first place I really wanted to be. That place was Bagan, about 400km north of Yangon. Bagan is famous for it’s many ancient temples and pagodas, slightly similar to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and I really wanted to see it. I spent a week exploring Angkor Wat and really enjoyed it even though I’m not much of a history buff. There were basically 3 ways to get to Bagan
1. Fly. It took me 4 flights to get to Myanmar, I was done with flying for a while.
2. Bus to Mandalay and then another bus to Bagan.This was the most popular option most people went with but since I was going to Mandalay later, I wanted to avoid backtracking to it.
3. Bus to Bagan, the ‘back’ way through Pyay and Magwe and this is the route I went with. I would have to overnight in Pyay and Magwe but that’s Ok, I wanted to break up the bus journey anyway.
I took a taxi from Golden Smiles to the bus station, near the airport. Buses to Pyay went every hour. I got on the 11am bus that left exactly at 11. It was a nicer bus, no A/C but that’s Ok. Comfy seats and a pouch on the back of the seat in front of me and a coat hanger and 2 plastic bags provided. This was a great idea and something I’d never seen before. They were useful for garbage or spitting your red slimy saliva from betel nut chewing which was alive and well here. Betel nut is a stimulant which reduces appetite and provides energy. It was really popular is Northeast India and globs of red stain the pavement everywhere like they did in India.
The scenery on the way was nothing much. Very dry and flat golden brown rice paddies. We reached Pyay at 5.30 and I went to the Myat Lodging House. The owners were super friendly and my room was very nice. Carpet, fridge, TV (no English channels though) desk and many other little nice features. Though it didn’t have a private bath and was kind of expensive at $12, but for one night it would do just fine. The communal bath was very nice and clean. I ate at a local restaurant and drank a Tiger beer while watching Resident Evil on TV.
The next morning, the owners of Myat took me on a motorbike to a larger hotel that they also owned for the the complimentary breakfast. I wore a skullcap helmet with a brand new Nazi swastika sticker on it! I don’t think they even know what it means. The bus left on time at 8.30 and I arrived in Magwe at 4.30. The scenery was much of the same from the day before.
There were only 2 listed hotels in Magwe and one was out of town. Hotels have to be licensed by the government to rent rooms to foreigners and not many hotels have done this outside of touristy areas. The place was a dive and overpriced. I didn’t like it all but it would only be for 12 hours as my bus left for Bagan at 6am the next day. I went to eat at Monarlizar 2, the happening place in town. Behind the place was an impressive and newly built 2km bridge over the Ayeyarwaddy river. The food was fine and the staff was very attentive and professional. Entertainment was provided by some young and beautiful Burmese women dancing in harmony. After that there were some individual women singing karaoke style.
My bus left at 6am promptly. The sun wasn’t up yet but it was just getting bright at that time. This bus, as yesterdays, was getting lower in quality that the first day. The road was the same and it disintegrated into a potholed one lane road. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic because we had to slow down for oncoming traffic and we both squeezed over a little onto the shoulder to pass. The scenery was more hilly and treed and more interesting. I was dead tired from getting up at 5am and by 10, couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I rested my head in the bus and was awoken by a tiny Burmese women. I had arrived in Bagan and was to pay my one time $10 admission fee. This was great news to be woken up for. I took a bicycle rickshaw to the New Heaven guesthouse. This was a great place. My $6 room had a private (and working) hot shower, towel, toilet paper, porch, reading lights(also working) and was very neat and clean. I liked it a lot was glad to be here finally. I would easily stay 4 or 5 days exploring the temples and surrounding area.
Comments (1) Nov 30 2009