Express bus over dirt roads to Old Bagan
So we left Mandalay this morning via the express bus to visit the temple highlights in Old Bagan. You should take the term express with a grain of salt in Myanmar; underway we easily stop fifty times to pick up local people. Moreover, there is entirely no question of a highway. Most of the time we drive on asphalt, but regularly the journey continues over dirt roads, and a few times we even have to go through a large pool.
Nyaung U is the tourist area of Bagan
Around three o’clock in the afternoon, we arrive in Nyaung U, the town bordering Old Bagan, where most temples and pagodas are located. Though the original population was forced to move out of this place. So nowadays there is also a New Bagan, which lies a few kilometers further. However, the tourist hotspot is Nyaung U, where you will find the cheaper hotels and guesthouses. There is also one street housing merely restaurants for tourists.
The Buledi pagoda is the first of my temple highlights in Old Bagan
I rent a room in a better middle-class hotel and decide as an initial exploration to go watch the sunset. On a horse cart, I am taken to the Buledi pagoda. After ascending this building, you see a multitude of temples and pagodas in the surrounding area, a promising first experience of the temple highlights in Old Bagan. The sunset itself is less spectacular today, as the sun disappears behind the clouds before going under. Nevertheless, I enjoy the beautiful view. The overall sight appears much greener than I expected; I thought I would end up in a dry sand mass. That is the advantage of staying here just after the rainy season, I guess.
No high season yet
In the evening I choose a restaurant where at least some people are present, especially Burmese. The high season clearly still has to take off. Most eateries are empty. And considering the services, things are definitely at a launching stage. I order grilled chicken with fries and fried vegetables, and first get the fires served, ten minutes later followed by the rest of the order. Tomorrow I will try to order an Asian dish again, hoping that will turn out as a better option.
Enjoying the tranquility in the streets
What I find so refreshing here in Bagan, is the tranquility; there is no noise of thousands of mopeds and cars like in Yangon or Mandalay. Without a doubt, I am going to stay here for several days. Tomorrow I will visit the most significant pagodas and temple highlights of Old Bagan, in a horse cart. I am ready for it; after all, seeing Bagan was my top reason to visit Myanmar in the first place.