Myanmar 2: Bagan

Bagan… oh dear, where to start? The Bagan archaeological site is a 100 square km area with 1000’s of temples and pagodas constructed mostly between the 11th and 13th century AD. We took a nightbus from Yangon, which took 8 hours, and so we arrived not so bright but very early (5 AM) in Bagan. After a lot of haggling we managed to arrange a pick-up truck for us to take us to our hotel. When we arrived there, we could fortunately get in our room right away. After a quick nap, we decided to rent bicycles to explore the place. We felt like Indiana Jones: venturing from temple to temple, entering some, climbing others (Although Mr. Jones is probably too cool for bicycles).

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The large complexes are quite touristy, with bold souvenir vendors and herds of (bus) tourists taking away a bit of the magic. However, a surprisingly large number of temples are completely empty. At these sites, we could truly enjoy the quietude, as well as the beauty of the place. The endless plains of temples and stunning fresco’s will stay with us for a while.

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Our only enemy? The heat! Temperatures rose to well over 40 degrees Celsius during the hottest hours of the day. This meant a mandatory siesta between 11:30 and 16:00.

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The next day, we let go of our nostalgic bicycle-silliness and went with e-bikes. The increased range meant that we could venture to even more remote places, which we did of course.

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We wanted to take it slow, but the place had such a grip on us that we stayed until late. We decided to revisit Ananda Paya, often claimed to be the most beautiful single temple in Bagan.

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That same night, we also climbed a 5-story temple (no lighting, narrow steps) to enjoy the view a bit better. Worth it:

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Day three in Bagan was the day of our departure already. We again went with e-bikes and cruised around. In many respects, the day was a bit of a repetition of day 2: more villages, temples and adventurous rides (including: getting stuck in sand, cursing, getting lost, et cetera). Another amazing day though, and far from boring/repetitive.

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That evening it was time for another night bus, to Inle Lake this time. We had only spent 3 days in Bagan, but one could easily be there for 3 weeks (or months, if you are really into temples). We left the place tired, but satisfied. The next adventure was already on the horizon.

PS. had we told you how nice Bagan is during the sunset? 😉

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