“This is Burma and it is unlike any land you know about.” -Rudyard Kipling, Letters from the East
Myanmar (formerly Burma) wasn’t on my priority list before. But when I began to see friends post pictures of Bagan’s sunrises and sunsets I got curious. Not only that, I have this bucketlist of going to all Southeast Asian countries by 2015. Moreso, a friend whom I met in El Nido was going there too. Plane ticket doesn’t cost that much and visa application can be done in three days. And so on my comeback Southeast Asia backpacking trip, I included Myanmar. The Old Bagan temples was on my number 1 “to see” list.
I met Callie in Mandalay and to save cost, we took the night bus. We arrived at Bagan past 4:00am just minutes before the sunrise. Luckily we found a guesthouse for 15,000kyats/night (15US$) at Nyang U. We took a nap and then rented bikes to see the sunrise. We went to the Sunrise Pagoda and joined other tourists looking towards the east waiting for the golden sun to break dawn.
Bagan should be explored in pairs. I can’t imagine enjoying Bagan’s sunrise to sunset without my travel partner Callie. Holding hands or hugging in between “ahhhs” and “wows” as we pay homage to the amazing sky painting from above. As the light began to color the black temples to red and brown, we readied our cameras to capture each we found remarkable.. The first ever temple we went into was turned from white to gold after the sun’s rays reflected on it. Cambodia’s Angkor Wat was no match to the vastness of the kingdom of Old Bagan. Thousands and thousands of temples as far as the eyes can see.
Smiling and friendly locals, beetle nut chewing-men, face-painted-thanaka women, monks both big and small create an unique feel. I was out of my comfort zone, out of my own country getting soaked into a different culture. Learning something new every step of the way.
Callie and I would take a good afternoon nap because of the heat outside and then continue exploring more temples and pagodas when the sun is not that harsh anymore. Following monks and talking to souvenir vendors outside each temples. And then scramble up another pagoda to wait for the setting of the sun. We would choose a lesser known pagoda and hope that there would be only us in there but always we will see others in the pagoda we chose. Still, the green vegetation around the temples would continue to wow and beg “amazing” from our lips. It was mesmerizing and lovely! After a day of Bagan’s majesty I wrote on my journal “magical and romantic.”
Bagan is breath-taking from sunrise to sunset.
Bagan is love!