02.03.2013 - 02.03.2013 38 °C
Our overnight bus pulled into Bagan bus station two hours late. Overall it had took almost 11 hours. We were both shattered and when we got off the bus we were surrounded by locals wanting to take us to our guesthouse. We quietly thanked them and walked off but some were quite persistent. Our guesthouse was supposed to be picking us up but they were no where to be seen. One of the friendlier locals explained that they had been here earlier when the bus was supposed to arrive and let us use his phone to ring them. Sure enough they had been there and were not coming back. The man whose phone we used offered to take us and we agreed a price. The bonus of this is that the mode of transport he used was a horse and cart. There were half a dozen of them huddled together belonging to different people. We hoped on with our luggage and were driven through a sleepy Bagan by Tu Tu the horse to Inn wa guest house.
Arriving at 5.30am we were told our room would not be ready to check in until noon. We expected this and got prepared to try and sleep in the reception area when the owner told us we could us the roof terrace if we wanted as it has reclining chairs. We took him up on is offer and went to get a couple of hours sleep under the stars. We abundantly applied DEET and found two of the chairs he was talking about. The problem was that it was freezing, the days are so hot here it's hard to believe it can get so cold. We couldn't sleep and sat there shivering for and hour or so until the sun started to rise. Another employee of the guesthouse then appeared and signalled for us to follow him. He took us back inside down a couple of floor and into what looked like his own bedroom. Maybe it is a communal staff bedroom we don't know but we finally managed to catch up on some sleep with an American lady who was also sleeping in there.
We woke around nine and decided to go for a walk and get some breakfast. There is a market more or less opposite so we started there. We struggled at first to find somewhere to eat until we stumbled on a small local place that had a handful of people in it. As usual for Myanmar it provided unlimited free tea and we enjoyed that whilst looking over the menu. Chelsea ordered veg fried rice and Liam ordered ginger salad thinking it would be nice and refreshing. He was wrong. Basically he got a plate of entirely grated fresh ginger in a coleslaw type consistency with some nuts sprinkled on the top. The first few mouthfuls were nice but it soon became hardwork eating just ginger. Chelsea got a large portion and did not finish so Liam gave up on his and finished off hers.
We spent the last couple of hours before we checked in sat in the reception area researching our next couple of moves for Myanmar. We have managed to book our next two guesthouses and plan to get everything booked before we leave Bagan. After 4 nights here we are going to Mandalay for 3 nights then 2 nights in each Pywin Oo Lin and Hsipaw before moving onto Inle lake. We looked through the guide to Bagan and it's temples and highlighed some that we definatley want to see. We plan to see these and spend the rest of our time finding quieter Paya's and exploring less crowded areas as there are a lot of tourists here on big bus tours.
We finally got to see our room at 12.30 and took a much needed shower and had an hour relaxing before going out to explore again. Our room is ok, it has air conditioning and sporadic hot water and costs $30 a night. This time we walked the opposite way to before towards a large temple called Shwezigon Paya. It is is similar in layout to Shwedagon Paya in Yangon, with a large golden pagoda circled by more shrines and temples. It was a lot less busy than the one in Yangon apart from a few locals and monks, we had the place to ourselves, it was very peaceful.
Bagan feels very low key to say it is such a popular and important religious place. The roads are narrow and half dirt roads and the shops and restaurants are often just small wooden huts. There is a lot of traffic and lots of rickshaws and horses and carts, as well as huge buses and motorbikes hurtling around. The people here are friendly and often say 'hello, how are you' when you walk past. One little girl today excitedly said hello and wanted to hi-five Liam which was cute. Like Yangon it is like stepping back in time with it's dusty streets and wooden buildings, we are very excited to start exploring tomorrow.
We came back to the guesthouse again to recover before going out tonight. Liam was in serious need of an haircut and let Chelsea run wild with the nail scissors and she has actually done a good job.
Tonight we went to a restaurant called Weatherspoons. Thankfully different from the Uk chain we had a couple of Myanmar curries, one fish and one beef to share with rice and it was delicious. They came with a tomato salad which had a peanut style mayonnaise sauce on it with nuts sprinkled on top. It was really quiet place and had a good atmosphere. It was really nice to sit there with a good meal and relax after such a long day. Tomorrow we plan to rent bicycles and start exploring the area. There are 4000 temples altogether around the plains here so we will see what we can. You pay 10 dollars each to enter the archeological Zone and that allows you to explore and see all the sights for up to a week. We are looking forward to a few nice days here.