The subject of my previous post, Inle Lake, is one of the biggest tourist draws for Myanmar. The other is the city of Bagan. Bagan is famous for one thing. The arid plains are dotted with an absolutely mind-boggling number of temples and pagodas. Over 2200 remain from the 11th-13th century. If you like temples and old architecture, Bagan is pretty much your Shangri-La. If you hate temples, it’s probably more akin to the deepest level of Hell.
I’m more in the middle. I like seeing temples, pagodas, and the like and I also dig historical stuff (hehe) but I get templed out after oh, I don’t know, 20 or so. That being the case, I was able to enjoy a day spent cycling on a loop through the plains and taking some sweet pictures. By the time sunset rolled around, I was quite happy to be finished with the whole thing.
A bicycle is definitely the way to go. There are horse-drawn carriages which have their own charm, but everyone thinks you’re a lazy bum. The terrain is flat with a little bit of flat thrown in, so it’s nothing you’ll die doing. Unless you get run over by one of the crazy locals. That happened to me… luckily I was walking and she was riding a bicycle and not driving a car; otherwise I would’ve been a pancake on the street. I got knocked over but wasn’t hurt. I bounced back up and helped her to her feet, making sure she was OK. She got all angry and cycled off in a huff. I can understand why she was so mad… I mean, how dare I walk anywhere and jeopardize people who like to ride bikes with their eyes closed. Grrr…
There are so many pagodas it’s not too difficult to find one with nobody else there, so despite the massive amounts of tourists almost guaranteed to be in the city, you can still feel a little bit of that blessed thing called solitude.
Not a person in sight!
A day exploring the plains of Bagan really isn’t complete without watching the sunset which, even if you’re immune to the charms of such a thing, is an unforgettable experience. The trick is finding an uncrowded pagoda or vantage point to watch it from; but if you can manage that, the scene is spectacular.
I’d been considering skipping Bagan and I’m glad I chose not to. It’s a pretty cool thing to see. It’s also something I don’t think I would return to visit. For me, it’s one of those ‘been there, done that’ destinations.