We reached Bagan in the wee hours and at 4 am or so, I was woken up by the driver to walk down and show passports to some check point. When I got off I realized it was the ticket station for entering the UNESCO world heritage site and they stiffed us 15$ each. If I had better with about, I could have avoided this charge, but the thought that it went towards maintenance of an historical site, made it seem sensible to pay anyway.
We were dropped off at the bus station at 5 am and most of the tourists were accosted by tuk tuks and horse carriages to go to some guest house. We packed up our bikes and decided to ride into town. Given it was close to sunrise and that’s supposed to be special in this town, we figured we’d spend the morning shooting pictures and then find a cheap guesthouse to stay in.
As we rode up, we met a Malaysian couple Megan and Joshua, who were also looking for a spot to watch the sunrise. I looked thro my GPS and found a side trail into the bush. This was pretty narrow and when we got to a pagoda, it wasn’t one we could climb to get a vantage point. This plain is pretty flat and when you are on the ground, its pretty hard to see anything at all.
We split and Myself and chris headed into the bushes a bit more. We met a couple of Germans, Robin and Joachim who had scouted the places and were frantically searching for a specific pagoda. We rode with them and we ended up at one which had stairs and a local photographer had scrambled up to shoot some pics. It was a nice spot and the sunrise was pretty indeed. There were hot air balloons taking tourists on a 300$ (so I heard) ride to have an arial view of the town. After that, we followed the boys to their guest house and we managed to find a dorm (which felt more like a hospital bed with curtains for walls) for 6$ a piece.
I rested all day, its been hectic days of travelling on busses and trains and headed out in the afternoon to loop around Bagan. This town is being rapidly built and the construction was ramping up at an alarming rate. We tried to get close to the Ayerawaddy river, but every side road ended with a hotel project. The place already has a Restaurant street with over prized and obviously underwhelming western food. I dread to think how the place would look like in a few years time.
We stopped off at a small tea shop for lunch and spent the evening hitting up a sunset and heading back to chat and well needed sleep. But it was almost 11 pm before I hit bet and need to be up at 5 to catch another dose of sunrise. Doh.
Route: Bagan Loop
Distance: 37 km
Ascent: 750 ft
Descent: 750 ft
Time in saddle: 5:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 59.11
Comments: Bagan is a beautiful place that’s fast becoming infested with commercial tourism. Good for the economy, but I don’t see myself returning here.