AsiaMyanmarBagan

Our first taste of Bagan - Day 1

Bagan Travel Blog

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Thatbyinnyu Temple
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

Bagan is one of the places that i'd read about and always wanted to visit during my stay in South East Asia. Located over 42 sq km, it is a temple complex that dates back almost a 1000 years, with a mind blowing 4400 temples to try and tuck your teeth into! The core of these were originally built 800 years ago, although some newer additions have sprung up over recent years. Its History begins with its creation in 1044 by King Anawrahta and more than 200 prosperous years followed, until Mongol marauder Kublai Khan attacked in 1287. Recent history has also left a scar on the site, as the 1975 earthquake, which measured 6.5 on the richter scale, badly damaged many of the major temples and sadly led to a lot of rebuilding, which in my opinion has left many of them looking like modern creations.
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from Shwesendaw Paya


Our boat docked on Saturday afternoon and we were greeted by an entourage of men wanting to carry our bags and a small army of children ceaselessly requesting  bon bon, money, food, clothes, watch, basically anything that they could ask me to give them. After paying the $10 entrance fee at the river bank upon arrival, we bundled our bags onto a horse drawn cart to make the 1km journey into the centre of Nyaung U, where most backpackers base themselves to explore the region. I feel pretty lucky that we ended up in Inn Wa Ga Hotel, where $7 got us a room with air con, hot water and an excellent breakfast, certainly the best value room that we would find in Myanmar.

It was already nearing 4pm, so we hired a couple of bikes and set out in search of somewhere to watch the sunset from.
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from Shwesendaw Paya, Dhammayangyi takes centre stage
Cycling down the main road, it was decided that we must first stop for something to eat, as we had not eaten since breakfast. It was a real stroke of luck that we pulled over at the wonderful Cheriland 1 restaurant. Unlike other establishments in Bagan with an English menu, this one prides itself on serving both the locals and westerners at the same rate. 15 minutes after ordering, a large steaming portion of sweet and sour chicken with rice ($1) was brought out along with some very tasty noodles with pork ($0.70). The staff were extremely friendly and were always checking that everything was ok and did we want anything else. This would be our favourite restaurant in Myanmar and where we would try and eat every meal possible!

Our going slowed somewhat after leaving Cheriland 1, as our bellies were swollen with all the hastily eaten food.
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from Shwesendaw Paya
It took another 20 minutes or so to cycle the 5km's down to Old Bagan, with the roads undulating and the bikes not always seeming up to the task required of them - or was that actually the riders im describing! Once in Old Bagan, we made a beeline for Shwesandaw Paya, supposedly the place to be, as the little orange ball disappears over the horizon. Arriving at the base, we encountered our first meeting with the temple touts, who had a wide variety of things that they were trying to sell us including paintings, laquerware, postcards, clothing on so on. Having fought our way through all of this, it was a sharp ascent to the top level, from where we took in the wonderful views in all four directions, before finally settling on the western wall to watch what everyone was there to see.
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from Shwesendaw Paya
The views were spectacular, with temples below as far as the eye could see. A stunning back drop of mountains and the Ayerwaddy River running through the area, finished off the picture postcard scene.

With dusk upon us, we descended the atirs and after doing our best to avoid all the sellers back down at the base of the Paya, we decided that the Banana Pancake ($0.40) that we had seen on Cherilands menu was just too tempting to pass up on. We cycled back there as fast as possible and parked our butts down, to be accompanied by a steaming hot pot of Chinese tea and the above mentioned pancakes. To entertain ourselves, out came the ludo board and then the deck of cards.

On our way back to the hotel we tried to find somewhere with internet and found it surprising that it cost 4 times the price that it had been in Monywa, so decided to leave it and see if we could find somewhere cheaper the following day.
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from Shwesendaw Paya
That evening, the very friendly hotel receptionist invited me down to watch the football with him and his pals in the lobby, so i left Julia upstairs and had a lads night in, so to speak! I always find it strange that Asians never really have a true affiliation to any one team, but it seems more like they cheer the team that is winning or the one that they put a bet on! Been a diehard Leeds fan, i just can't imagine ever supporting anyone else, regardless of a bet. Exhausted from another marathon day, i crawled to bed around 11pm, completely shattered.
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Thatbyinnyu Temple
Thatbyinnyu Temple
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
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Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
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Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from …
Bagan skyline seen at sunset from…
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Bagan
photo by: planisphere