I decided to take a boat to Bagan instead of flying or the bus to get another perspective on Myanmar. I also thought that a 10 hour boat ride would be plenty of time for me to read and to catch up on my writing. It was a good plan until there was a torrential downpour. The beginning of the ride was really cool because you get to see all the pagodas from the water. The other 9 1/2 hours were the same. I can’t complain because I rarely get to have a digital detox. I was forced to horror of all horrors talk to people! I chatted with the young man behind the beverage counter who was interested in American dance music. I dutifully shared with him Justin Bieber, Sia, and Pitbull songs. He ended up playing these songs the entire boat ride. I read my book, listened to music and wrote in my journal. It was a very nice way to pass the time.
My first epic fail of the trip was the following morning. I had booked a hot air balloon ride over Bagan. Like Cappadocia in Turkey, this is a bucket list item. I’ve waited 4 months to do this and was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, nature had other plans. There was so much fog from the rain that we couldn’t fly. One of the local men said that in 25 years, he’s never seen fog this bad before. So instead of brooding, I took that as a sign of luck. Out of all the days I decided to come to Bagan, I picked the day they had unprecedented fog. Oriental ballooning was very apologetic and refunded my money. I met a fellow American, Ben, who was in the same failed balloon situation who happened to be staying at Othello Bello which was where I was staying. We decided over breakfast that we had to make up for the morning’s events so we rented bikes and explored Bagan. There are over 3,000 pagodas in this ancient city and each of them has a buddha statue inside. I kept taking thousands of photos but they just don’t do it justice. The enormity of the place is just breathtaking.
After 12 days in Asia, I really wanted non-Burmese food so I indulged in some really good pizza at La Pizza. Really random right? Apparently, the owner is Italian and imports all the ingredients which makes the prices higher than the average Burmese food. I did wonder how they had mozzarella cheese in Myanmar.
The next morning, I woke up at 5:00am and rented an e-bike (basically a scooter) which costs a mere $7 for the day. I asked the receptionist if she could recommend a sunrise spot where nobody else goes to. She looked outside and pointed at a white male and said, “you follow that man.” So, I did exactly what she suggested, I asked him if I could follow him. He reluctantly said yes. Afterwards, I found out that he wasn’t reluctant to take me; he just didn’t want anyone else to know about his secret spot. I don’t blame him because it was one of those sunrises you remember for the rest of your life. I found out that my new friend Stephen was biking from Myanmar back to England. Yes, on a bicycle. He also quit his job to travel for the year. Caroline from Switzerland was there too; I met her at the hostel in Mandalay. We had a deep conversation about life while we watched the sunrise. I didn’t think you could get that deep with strangers but that’s what I love about traveling; you meet kindred spirits. The most ironic thing about the sunrise was watching the hot air balloons pass by and I was still happy that I was at my spot at that moment.
I will always remember Bagan for the countless sunrises and sunsets, eating good pizza and meeting really cool people.
**Some photos taken with iphone 7
MGRG Boat to Bagan
Bunk beds like in college
Failed hot air balloon ride
Exploring Bagan instead
Coconut & chocolate ice cream at Be Kind to Animals The Moon
View from our sunset spot
Everyone tries to find the perfect spot for the sunset
La Pizza in Bagan
Temple with no name
Shwesandaw Pagoda is where everyone watches the sunset
View from the Shwesandaw Pagoda
I noticed that the plaque outside of a random pagoda said Chung!!
Marionettes outiside Dhammayangyi Pahto
The pagodas always have a buddha statue and a statue behind it
The hallway of the Dhammayangyi Pahto
Garden vibes at Star Beam restaurant
I can barely fit through!
Epic sunset 1
Epic sunset 2
Epic sunset 3
The secret temple
The buddha will keep our secret