Bagan was on my bucket list for this trip, along with Chiang Rai, and they were two things I was pretty bossypants about seeing.
This meant, of course, a beastly bus ride. At 7am sharp a pickup truck with a mattress in it came to fetch us at our hotel and we crawled into the back of it. Then we got on the bus for a grueling nine hour ride. Let me tell you, the ride in the pickup truck was smoother than this bus ride. The next day our butts still hurt and we had to sit funny. My butt hurt laying in bed on my back. I do not wish that upon anyone. Or their tailbone.
However the bus ride was a distant memory by the time we got to Bagan.
We stayed in a lovely hotel, Blue Bird, which was real luxury and an amazing value. One of the owners is french and the hotel served fresh, homemade yogurt with breakfast. I just about died. For long-term travelers in Asia, dairy products are the ultimate luxury right behind water pressure, towels that don’t feel like sandpaper, and filtered coffee. Even a pool is like, whatever, when there is DAIRY.
I loved Bagan so much. What’s to say about it? It was gorgeous. Everywhere you looked were temples, pagodas, monasteries, and other holy buildings. You can hire a car, a bike, or a horse cart and take in the sights. Fully embracing our “Bougie in Burma” mantra, we went car. We had a hilarious driver who “spoke English” who made us laugh all the time because how we might say “Excuse me” or “sorry” to interject into a side conversation, he said “HELLO.” It wasn’t just a “hello?” IT WAS A COMMAND. HELLO.
We saw a ton of Buddhas:
We saw a ton of pagodas:
We saw a ton of temples (and their guardian lion-dogs)
We made some merit, by pouring water over the Buddha associated with which day of the week you were born (Dave, a Thursday. Monday for me) once for every year you have been alive and one more for good luck.
Also, the old-fashioned way, MONEY!
We were dusty, exhausted, and I loved every minute of it.
We watched sunset with our feet dangling over the side of a temple after climbing up some very tiny stairs lit with rapidly shrinking candles. It was romantic to see the whole of Bagan– over 50 km– of temples as far as the eye could see as the sky turned pink and purple.
To enhance the mood, Dave started doing that “I love to sound like a jaded long-term traveler” smug thing he does when his eyes glaze over and he just ranks places he’s been that are further plane rides than places you may have been on a plane. OR NOT! He decided sunset in Bagan was not as climactic as being in Angkor Wat.
So, I told him to shut up.
Then the camera broke.
So much for making merit.
We were then mindful of the impermanence of both Dave’s smugness and my hot temper about the camera breaking and went to go drink beer.