If you ever thought you had seen a few temples in one day then wait til you visit Bagan. They sprawl for miles, some you’ll only encounter if you go off the main roads, get lost a bit and then go a little bit further again. Some are massive and some are tiny. There are sitting Buddha statues, Buddha statues with mini capes (probably not the correct description) and reclining Buddha statues.
We spent 2 days exploring the temples and 1 day off visiting Mount Popa (Taung Kalat) a random volcano plug with a monastery on top. Having never been on an e-bike before I was a little nervous but we were soon whizzing around the roads of Bagan, enjoying the freedom that having your own vehicle brings.
Pinion loving her e-bike:
On our first morning we set off without a plan, I like to think we are adventurous rather than just lazy at planning. Visiting Myanmar in May is hot, so hot that it puts off most travellers and made the temples really quiet. There were a few hawkers around but nothing too pushy. By midday we needed a break from the sunshine and napped. Getting up early was clearly a shock to our no work adjusted bodies! Later in the afternoon we were back out exploring. A lot of the ‘roads’ leading up to the temples are just sand tracks and things can get a bit wobbly if you go too fast, despite a couple of close calls amazingly neither of us fell off.
Temples, temples and goats with temples:
After two days of temple hopping we opted for a day trip to Mount Popa. Taung Kalat is the volcanic plug from Mount Popa, most people just call it Mount Popa so it gets a bit confusing and I had to rely on Wikipedia to clear things up a bit. It is considered to be home to a number of spirits and draws a large number of pilgrims each day, who climb up the 777 steps. We read a range of reports about how long the climb would take, it took us about 25 minutes and made us pretty breathless. The view of the plug was probably better than the monastery on top, there was quite a lot of rubbish just thrown over the sides. We took small change to give to the guys cleaning the stairs on the way up, although some people just said they had donated at the bottom. After the climb down we had a great lunch with a nice Scottish/ Australian lady, who we would meet a further 3 times whilst in Myanmar, and then headed back to Bagan.
Monastery on the volcanic plug:
Bagan was one of my favourite places that we have visited on our trip so far. The temples really are amazing and it was a nice (and a little dusty) place to relax when we weren’t out exploring. There are three places to stay in Bagan. We opted for Nyaung Oo, the accommodation was in our price range (US$25 per night for a private ensuite). Our hotel (Blazing) was not amazing, the room smelt like sulphur and I think they accused me of stealing a glass when we were checking out. There were plenty of other options around there and they’re likely to be cheaper than New or Old Bagan. There were loads of restaurants nearby (Bibo’s does amazing cocktails) and we found the little village had everything we needed. If you don’t fancy e-bikes there are other options for exploring other than hiring a private car. There are traditional horse and carts, these looked pretty fun but probably a bit slow and bum numbing. You could be less lazy than us and cycle around, the heat meant we never even considered this option and I think the e-bikes meant we could explore a bit further afield.