Arrived in Bagan on the overnight train. Bagan has a serious plethora of temples, pagodas, and monasteries. If you like temples then this is your mecca. I have never seen so many in my life. It feels a bit like a desert oasis with sandy trails and roads leading to numerous hidden temples. You could spend days exploring here and probably still not see all the temples and pagodas. According to my Lonely Planet guide book, Marco Polo once said this “is one of the finest places in the world.” Warning though, it is hot in May. Like Houston, Texas in August hot, then add another few degrees of heat to that, throw a little dust in the air, and you have the climate in Bagan. It is insanely beautiful but the heat will make you chug water like a college kid drinking beer at a fraternity party.
The best and most interesting way to explore these numerous temples is on E-bike (Electronic bike) which is essentially a golf cart on two wheels. It is like a scooter but lighter and more easy to man-handle on the sandy trails.
So I rented one of these e-bikes which I named “dead battery” but that story is for another day. I cruised around trying to see every single temple but I admit I failed at that goal. There were crazy number of trails and roads that would just lead to some treasure find. Along the trails in random places, there were farmers plowing the sand with their oxen just as people have done for 100s if not 1000s of years. Myanmar has felt like going back in time which I have absolutely loved!
In the late afternoon, people hike up these temples to watch the sunset but beware they are steep. Trying to climb up these brick mountains in my man skirt (longya) turned out to be pretty precarious. Pants or Longyas (aka sarong) are required on these religious edifices. I kept stepping on it and thought if I tripped over my skirt and fell to my death off a temple, that would be a terrible way to die. The sunset was amazingly beautiful, glistening off the red stone buildings.
On my way back to the hotel, I stopped for more drinking water. Not wanting to put the water bottles with wet condensation in my backpack next to my camera, I opted for plastic bags. The locals have a neat way of carrying things on their bike that I thought I would try. They hang these bags on hooks which are located on the front fork of the bike. So I hung the bags on the fork of my bike, looking totally like a local in my man skirt and continued back towards. Each bump I was thinking there is no way that is going to hold. Then POP! My bag broke and it sent water bottles rolling into traffic. OH NO! I quickly pulled over and jumped off my bike. During my rush I stepped on my man skirt and it fell down to my ankles exposing my skeebies to the country of Myanmar. Thankfully I had underwear on. I couldn’t just reach down to pull up my skirt immediately because I had to hold up bike and get the kickstand down first. The kickstand on my bike was one of those that went on both sides of the bike, had a locking lever, and took a certain skill and jimmying to work. Then it involved picking up the scooter and backing it over the kickstand which is not easily done especially in my situation. As cars rushed by, I couldn’t get the thing to work. In America, I am sure I would have heard a few whistles by now. What felt like minutes of humiliation and excellent entertainment for every onlooker, I finally got the kickstand to work. I then pulled up my dress, retied it, gather my water bottles, and made my way out of there as fast as I could.
Next stop: Inle Lake, a fishing village surrounded by mountains and much cooler temperatures.