How I traveled to Old Bagan, Myanmar. A history of what I saw and what I had done. Bagan and it’s over 4200 temples is a must-see for every bucket list.
Our Arrival In Bagan
We arrived in Bagan on schedule by bus at 5:30 am. FYI: The posts that are on the internet talking about no drivers to pick you up turned out to be wrong.
There were drivers and more drivers and they all were talking and bargaining at the same time. They asked for prices as high as 15,000 Kyat for a 7000 Kyat ride.
I got one for 9000 and decided that getting to the room and to bed were worth more to me than the 2000 Kyat. Only a difference of ($2.00) Kyat pronounced ‘chat’.
The Shwe Na Di Guest House
Arrived at the guest house which turned out to be way more than adequate for our needs. We got an upgrade to a private ensuite for free and went to the breakfast room for our free breakfast.
I must admit that I was not prepared for what they delivered. Plates of fresh fruits, beignets, toast and jam, coffee, bananas, samosas, tea, and eggs. With Refills of everything until you are full.
This comes free every day here at the Shwe Na Di guesthouse. It is one of the less expensive guesthouses in Bagan. They offer Wifi, A/C, very comfortable beds, and nice staff. Ask for anything and they will arrange it for you to see the temples. You can also rent an electric moped for $5 a day to explore on your own.
We always go out the day before the actual shoot and find what shots we want to get and the exact place to shoot them from. We make a time map for each shot. With any luck, we will be able to photo 3 afternoon/sunset shots and 2 or 3 morning/sunrise shots.
The whole purpose in the shots at Bagan is to try to get the largest group of Pagodas at each of those times. These are not the only shots we shoot but will give us the best HDR and Panoramic images to stitch together.
We did a trip through the Pagoda and Stupa area today by horse and buggy. Not what you would think of as a buggy in fact not sure what to call it. Two wheels and a seat for the driver, you step up into what is a small bed from behind the cart and kind of lay down for the trip. It was all in all a cool way to travel and something we had never done before. [15,000 Kyats for 1/2 day]
Our For Photo-shoot Number One
We had lunch and rested for a few hours in an AC room. Temperatures can be very hot in Bagan and we were visiting during the hottest part of the year. We rented an electric bike to go out and look at the temples after it cooled down that afternoon.
We did a few pictures from the 3rd level of one of the stupas. The number of Stupas still standing left us almost speechless. Angor Wat is huge but this amount of construction to me is even more impressive. If for no other reason then because of the sheer numbers, sizes, and designs of the Pagodas and Stupas. Counts vary but the number set at around 4200 here in the Archaeological Zone of Bagan.
The Pagodas and Stupas
The architecture here is fantastic. There are several types of Stupas and Pagodas but three that are the most prevalent. The first is like a Hershey Kiss with usually one small door into a small worship area with a statue of Buddha.
The second is more like a regular building with one entrance. The inside has a vaulted ceiling and you can walk around the entire building and usually has stairs to the top. They all have 4 Buddhas facing the north, south, east and west.
The third is like the second except that is has 4 entrances, one facing each of the compass points. Being here is almost like being on an archaeology dig. It is amazing that these are in such good shape since there was a large earthquake here in 1975. A true statement about the construction techniques from thousands of years ago.
Out On Our First eBike
Today was an adventure for us. We finally after a year of being out and about got our first E-bike rental. I have been on motorcycles most of my younger life but not a scooter made more or less for a little man or woman from Asia. But we rode and then stopped to photograph all over the little town of Bagan.
The freedom that you have when taking pictures and sightseeing is so much easier and makes it so much fun. You have the ability to stop and shoot any photo that pops up. This is so much easier than having a driver and the photos are much better.
Our Last Day In Bagan
Tomorrow will be our last day here, our plans are to go to the pagodas for sunrise. We visited workshops around town for photographs. Tomorrow we would take an early bus to Pyin Oo Lwin.
From Pyin Oo Lwin we take the train across the Goteik Viaduct (the highest bridge in Myanmar. Built by the British in 1900 and at that time the largest railway trestle in the world.) onto our next longer stop in Hsipaw for 4 nights.
On to Hsipaw and The Shan People
Hsipaw is a small town you can pretty much see the entire town in a few hours. The big draw is the treks for a half, full or as long as 3 days into small villages that are inaccessible any other way.
We plan to eBike to some of them. The 107 to 110 degree days we are experiencing lead us to think we cannot make the multi-day treks. We will instead opt for the smaller half-day treks around the town.