The road to Bagan (forget Mandalay for now) was horrible. We were supposed to board a local express AIR CONDITIONED bus at 8am for our 8 hour journey (including 3 stops). We boarded. The AC did not come on. We were fobbed off for a while (even by our guide). But then it dawned on us. NO AC. For the whole journey. The whole way. 8 hours in 38 degrees c and not a trace of a breeze.
OMG. Horrific. Looking back I’m not quite sure how I did it. Saying that though, at least I wasn’t on the more rustic local express!! Might have been cooler come to think of it.
A few things did make me chuckle… how many people had ginormous phones that they couldn’t even hold, and this sign – we are not usual people in Burma!!!
Where am I staying?
Thazin Garden Hotel is a beautiful hotel. Set in lush grounds, the rooms were also very pretty. And there was AC so I spent about an hour lying comatose on the bed trying to cool down. And there was a pool. And the grounds were stunning. It actually reminded me of hotels in Goa.
- Grubbiness factor: non existent, I am pleased to report
- Bed: 6/10. Nice bed, horrible pillows
- Shower: 6/10. Decent enough to get me clean.
What did I eat?
Breakfasts were in the hotel. The usual suspects – toast, eggs, but there was also a massive fruit plate, which was lush. And fresh fruit juice. Lusher. I also had some fried rice. Fuel for the day, nothing more. The next day was better – beans on toast. And very Heinz-esqe tasting. I was a happy bunny. It is really the simple things I tell you.
Lunches? By the poolside one day. The pool was just the right size, not deep though, but supercool. You might think ‘she can’t stop carrying on about the heat’. But as some of you, well, most of my close friends, know how unstable my temperature gauge and window are, I was pretty uncomfortable.
Anyway. Lunch. CHIPS, like the chips of my childhood at PSC. Fat, crispy, soft, perfectly done. All I needed was a dodgy ketchup and an orange Fanta :). I also ordered another Burmese speciality. Tomato Salad. Tomatoes, onions, peanuts, peanut sauce and chilli – YUMMY. Cooling, refreshing, peanutty. Delicious. A G&T completed the meal. Perfect. I was too hot to eat lunch on any of the other days.
Dinners? So after the epic bus ride, we went out for dinner to a local shack and I ordered veggie curry with coconut rice. As soon as the food arrived, I looked at it (it looked very nice) and instantly became nauseous. Too much heat.. I had to walk away, run to my air conditioned room and collapse. I woke up the next morning feeling much better.
Final Bagan dinner in the hotel. Too hot and lazy to go anywhere, we sat in the hotel grounds under a lit stupa. Definitely one of the nicest places I’ve had dinner. What was for dinner? “Tomatoes cooked the local way with vegetables”. Hmmm. Intriguing. Menu description. I was thinking a ratatouille. I even asked if that it what it was – yes madam. Yes. I got a bowl of tomato sauce and raw vegetables for dipping – more tomato, cucumber, lettuce, herbs and about 5 potent chillies. Served with rice.
I mixed everything up and it tasted pretty good. Those tomatoes were so super sweet and tangy and delicious, I absolutely loved eating this.
What did I do?
I saw multiple stupas and temples. Dhammayangi Temple, Sulamani Temple, Paya Thone Zu temple, Ananda Paya… To be honest I was so hot to keep track of each of the places, but I will say they were all stunning. There is old Bagan and new Bagan. Old Bagan is where majority of the stupas are. I absolutely loved this place. A refreshing change after all the gilded gold stupas, these were made of brick – untouched, unassuming and grand.
We went to a number of temples and drove around all the stupas, it was excellent. One of the temples we went to had massive statues of the Buddha. Depending on the angle, the same Buddha could be serious or grinning. There was a blingy temple, so OTT that it actually looked really good.
We also went to the five level temple for the sunset. Really steep stairs going up and down, but there was a handrail that was used by virtually everyone. Other downside? There were loads of people there for the same reason -‘so it was pretty packed. Everyone was huddling on the top most level – I decided to stay on level 4. Good decision, and the views stunning. The guys above me said it got too busy up there and it was more about jostling for a spot rather then enjoying the view.
Even just walking around the stupas stumbling across villages was brilliant for people watching. I love taking photos of people and this was definitely the place for that. I know we touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of temples and stupas in Bagan, but my oh my. What a beautiful place. Really breathtaking. I’d come back when it is freezing cold and do a hot air balloon ride… An absolute must see – please add it to your list if you haven’t yet been.