Currently: in our room in Bagan packing up and enjoying the air conditioning before we have to leave it.
Again, internet sucks so no pictures. Wahhhh!
The bus got into Bagan super early in the morning and we were still in a daze when they dropped us at the bus station. We were immediately swarmed by taxi drivers and had to push our way through them just to get a few minutes to get ourselves together. We wandered around the bus station with at least three drivers following us and telling us the price of he taxi. It was a lot more than we were expecting, but it didn’t seem that there were really any other options at that time. We talked to a few other tourists to see if they wanted to share a taxi, but none of them were headed where we were going. We ended up walking out to the main road to see if there were any other transport options and it didn’t seem that there were. One of a drivers finally agreed to a somewhat discounted price and we hopped in and headed for Nyuang Oo.
Nyuang Oo is one of three areas to stay to see the temples of Bagan, which are spread out over a large area. We had already booked a hotel there, but it was too early to check in when we got there around 4:30am. We talked with the owner or manager maybe and she said we could leave our stuff and go watch the sunrise from the top of a nearby temple. We rented an electric moped (oddly, they don’t rent out regular gas mopeds to tourists in Myanmar) and headed to try and find this temple.
The temples of Bagan were built a very long time ago, but Myanmar has done work to restore them over the years so they aren’t falling apart. They vary in size so there are some really small ones and some huge ones. The one we watched the sunrise from was small-ish, but tall enough to see the surrounding temples and watch the sun come up. A local guy that was selling paintings at the temple said we were lucky since the last several mornings have been cloudy and it was almost perfectly clear. Nice! I was still pretty delirious for the whole thing from not getting enough sleep on the bus, but it was beautiful and I’m glad we went.
When we got back to the hotel we thought we’d have to wait a while to get into the room so I made myself comfy on a bench to try and get some sleep. A few minutes later Ethan came up and told me that they were letting us in the room. Thank God! We got in and I went straight to sleep. After a lovely nap, we spent the day on our “e-bike” exploring the temples. Bagan’s weather is much warmer than Inle Lake and it was a cloudless day so walking around barefoot on the hot brick walkways was not the most pleasant. Before we knew it, it was way past lunch time and we were both hungry. We got lunch at a place along the Ayeyarwady river, then went back to our hotel to cool down and wait for the sunset.
On our way back our electric scooter was suddenly very low on battery. The battery pretty much ran out very soon after we realized this and I thought for sure we would be pushing it back. Somehow we made it without having to push, but I seriously don’t know how. We were going about 5 mph and I’m sure we looked so ridiculous. We pulled into our hotel and told them it was dead and they said they’d give us another one to go see the sunset. When we went back out, we made sure to check that the new scooter had full power, but we got about 1 mile down the road and it suddenly had no battery. What?!?!! We were already running late to see the sunset and didn’t have time to go back and get a different scooter so we puttered along at 5 mph all the way to the sunset temple.
This is the most popular place to watch the sunset because it’s pretty tall and gives you a great view of the mountains, river and some of the bigger temples. There were so many people it was insane. Literally there were tour buses full of people and tons of bicycles and scooters. It was nuts. The steps up the temple are super steep and about three times the size of normal steps so it took some huffing and puffing to get up there. We also had to push our way past people and I’m so glad there was a hand rail. Yikes! The sunset wasn’t as glorious as we had hoped, but the view was great and we ran into Zoe and Ella! We made tentative plans for the next day then headed down to deal with our dying scooter.
It took us forever to get that thing back and Ethan ended up having to push it will it drove. He would give it a big push and then jog behind me until it died again then give it another push. It was so ridiculous and Ethan was drenched in sweat by the time we made it back. We had to hang out in our room for a while so Ethan could cool down, then we had to find an ATM since we were out of money and by the time we were down with all that, neither of us was hungry for dinner. We got snacks instead and went back to the room to watch a movie. What a looooong day!
Before we went to bed we made plans to take a taxi with Zoe and Ella to Mt. Popa, which is a temple on top of a rocky hill that juts straight up into the sky. I barely knew anything about it (like a lot of the places we visit…) but the girls told me there were almost 800 steps to the top though and that did not excite me. We hired a taxi from our hotel and left at 8:45 to go get them from their hotel in Old Bagan.
Interesting side note: people used to live in Old Bagan which is a small walled city on the river. But sometime in the recent past the government forcibly moved its inhabitants out creating a new city called New Bagan. I can’t remember why they did that, but it’s very strange to see the area with no one living in it.
We got to their place at 9 and headed out. On the way we stopped at a palm sugar making operating and watched a large cow walk in circles slowing churning peanuts to make peanut oil. It was kind of sad and we wondered if they really still do it that way or of it was just for show…? The palm sugar was great and we tasted the liquid they get from the plant. It’s sugary when you first extract it, but at the end of the day it ferments and becomes alcohol. Very strong alcohol! It was gross.
Back in the car, we passed a lot of villagers on the side of the road and sometimes they would wave and we wondered if they needed a ride or were begging for money. It was strange. We finally made it to Mt Popa and started up the many, many steps that were thankfully covered and not out in the blazing sun. The owner of our hotel had warned us about the monkeys at the temple trying to steal snacks and bottles of soda or water. Sure enough about 5 minutes in, a monkey tried to steal Zoe’s water. She had to rip it out of the monkeys hands and we all stuffed our bottles in our bags after. Eeeek!
On the way up there were more monkeys and the people who cleaned and sold water all had sling shots that they would threaten the monkeys with. As soon as the monkeys saw them get up they would go running. It was crazy and also really sad that people continue feeding the monkeys and throwing their trash in the forest. The monkeys clearly live off the trash and depend on the people. It was also super gross everywhere and smelled like a unkept zoo enclosure. It was pretty rancid at times. Yuck.
We made it to the top after several breaks and found a shady spot to sit and enjoy the view. The temple itself really isn’t very nice, but the view of the surrounding land was great and we were glad we made the trek. We were hungry from all the walking and decided to eat some crackers while we sat, hoping not to attract any crazy monkeys. We ate and none of them came so we thought we were in the clear. But, as we went to leave I felt something tugging at my water bottle and shrieked when I turned around to see a huge monkey right behind me. We all bolted and the monkey hissed and showed his teeth. Yikes! That monkey was not messing around. We ran inside and a guy came out with a sling shot and scared the monkey away. We had another run in with a monkey on our way back down and gave a guy a small tip for scaring it away. I definitely think the more freaked out we were, the more the monkeys freaked out, but none of us wanted to be anywhere near them since a scratch or a bite could mean weeks of rabies treatment. I really hate monkeys!
When we got back in town the girls had invited us to chill at the pool at their hotel, but it was $12/person for guests (what?!!)! We opted out of that and spent the afternoon in our room watching movies. We didn’t want to spend a bunch to rent a bike for only a few hours and after a couple days of intense travel we needed some time to just relax. We had dinner at a local spot, came back and watched another movie.
As our trip winds down the the last few days, we are shocked at how fast it has gone, how much as happened and how much we’ve seen. We reminisced back to our first night in India and how insane that was and how our time on Koh Tao feels so long ago, but was really only last week. Traveling has a weird effect on time and most of the time I don’t even know what day of the week it is. Then all of the sudden it’s coming to an end and we’re excited to go home, but also sad that it’s over.
We’re hanging out in our room until we have to check out then we’ll spend the afternoon checking out a couple temples and maybe getting some souvenirs. Then we’ll take the night bus back to Yangon and a taxi to the airport tomorrow morning. We’ll see Emily for a bit at the airport as she arrives a few hours before we leave. She’ll spend a few days here in Myanmar then fly home. We’ll go back to Bangkok for a day and a half, then our flight leaves bright and early on the 31st to Tokyo. If we’re lucky we’ll get seats on a direct flight back to Detroit. We’re flying standby, so who knows! We might get stuck in Tokyo for day or have to take a flight to somewhere else in the US. It’s gonna be a long couple days of travel and we’ve got our fingers crossed that all goes well!
I’ll probably post one more blog before we leave so stayed tuned and thanks for reading!! Hope you’ve enjoyed!