I arrived in Bagan at about six in the morning on February 22nd, after a nine hour bus ride during which I was unable to move or sleep almost the entire time. Not the worst bus ride of my life, but not quite the best either.
There are few words and many photos in this post, but first I should say that Bagan should be one of the 7 wonders of the world. Unfortunately, most people who’ve never been to Burma have never even heard of Bagan. You can get a very quick intro to this amazing place here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagan and read more elsewhere if you’re interested.
With only a day and a half to explore the thousands of ruins in and around Bagan, I set out immediately by cycle-rickshaw to catch the sunrise from an old temple a few minutes’ drive from the guesthouse I had chosen. Five photos taken from / of that temple:
Once the sun was up, I headed back to my guesthouse to eat breakfast and rent a bicycle to get around for the day. I left the guesthouse just after 8am and returned nearly twelve hours later in the pitch darkness. With a bare minimum of words, here’s what I saw that day:
After watching the sun set looking west from a fairly high temple roof, I began cycling back to the nearest paved road to get back to my guesthouse. Unfortunately, after a full day of cycling through sand dunes, stone paths, over brambles and through thickets and potholes, my luck ran out. As the darkness began to take over, I found myself with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, not even 100% certain which direction to head to get home.
Somehow, every time my luck runs out while travelling, someone or something comes along to rescue the day – this time I managed to stumble upon a tiny village with some children running around. A woman soon came up and took me to a house where the village bicycle repairman lives. They brought me a chair and a bowl of peanuts to eat while I watched him check and fix my inner tube. Turns out this tube had already been patched many times before, and on this occasion he had to put four new patches in! That’s right, I had managed FOUR punctures in one go!
After fixing my bike, he kindly cycled with me until the paved road and pointed me in the direction I needed to get to my guesthouse. A long cycle ride in the dark with no lights followed, and I managed to make it all the way home without incident.
In the morning I woke up, rented a different bicycle, and headed out for a few hours to see a few temples I hadn’t visited.
Afterwards, I returned to my guesthouse, packed my bags, caught a horsecart taxi to the airport, and flew to Yangon (Rangoon) in order to make my Yangon-Bangkok flight the following morning.
This was my sweet ride to the airport:
Looking down at Bagan as we circled to turn toward Yangon: