So…where was I in this story?
That’s right! It’s 4AM!
And our hotel is obviously not checking people in in the wee hours of the morning. So we have the taxi driver take us to the only place open: the sunrise pagoda.
So we lay out on the top of this pagoda, but by this point it’s almost sunrise so people start coming, and I can’t sleep in a crowd, so we join the throngs and watch the sunrise. Now, I’ve never been really into sunrises, and Sleepy Marge is definitely not into them, but this was beautiful. And this was our first sights of Bagan.
This place is unreal. There are so many pagodas, they just litter the desert like trees. They are all different sizes and some are colored and some are like just decaying stone.
So after the beautiful sunrise, we go back to our hotel?
Instead, Lenny and Emilie want to go hiking through the desert and check out more pagodas. Now honestly, I’m dying, but I’m trying to be a good sport. It was actually amazing, walking in the morning when no one is awake and just coming upon these huge ancient pagodas that are abandoned. We climbed around in some of the old ones.
We finally got a larger pagoda where there were actual people. And we could get a little horse and buggy to drive us to our hotel. The hotel had a big bed, and a shower, and air condition. So I was in heaven!
And then I took probably the most beautiful nap anyone has ever taken in their whole life.
We’re at the lovely Mya Thida hotel.
So after probably the most beautiful nap I have ever had! We went out to get some food. Honestly, from the lunch with the monk (which was like average at best, and involved some weird food flavors) we were turned off Myanmar food a bit.
Restaurants in Myanmar are generally just a bit more than Malaysia. I think that’s cause we kept getting roped into the nicer-looking places, but you do get better food there. It’s like 5 bucks US for a meal.
The exchange rate is stellar cause it’s like 1000 to 1USD. So that’s easy to remember. We ended up spending a rather large amount by southeast-asian standards. I think they like to swindle tourists a bit.
They won’t let tourists ride motor scooters, but they let you rent these e-bikes, which are just like battery-powered scooter/bike hybrids. They aren’t exactly made for offroading…but did that stop us?!
So we’re driving these damn e-bikes through these dust roads and native villages, slipping around and bouncing over the rocks. This is probably the roughest we could be on the bikes.
We came upon this “wall of sand” (a description we used early when describing the place to some other backpackers). It was like a big open sand field, super surreal-looking. Lenny obviously tried to ride into it and failed.
Then we drove by these Burmese guys playing volleyball and hopped off to join their game. Luckily, they went way easy on us. They literally didn’t speak any English, but we could still get along and we drew the whole village as a crowd.
We woke up the next day and Lenny was sick. He had food poisoning off something and said he couldn’t go out.
The problem was that the day before we had told the e-bike place that we wanted to go to the sunrise pagoda again so we would need bikes at like 4:30AM! So Emilie and I had to wake up to get those, but then (because Lenny wasn’t there to motivate us) we went back to sleep until 6:30 and then went out without him.
We weren’t alone for long because we ran into this New Zealand guy, John, we had met in the hostel the night before, and two other younger kiwi guys. They also had the e-bikes so we took them off-roading. And we climbed a pagoda. I climbed a pagoda.
The day before, Lenny and Emilie had climbed a different one, but I had opted out. I was at that point still in the throws of utter exhaustion.
These new Zealand guys are travelling by road for a year, from Bali to London. Literally across half the world. It sounded like a crazy trip.
We ended up at this pagoda and these nice Burmese women took us up a secret look-out point. I thought it was all good until they kept trying to sell us stuff. And I didn’t really need anything, but this woman kept being like “I’m a poor student”, well I’m like join the club, lady! But I needed a bracelet so I ended up paying 5 bucks for it. (Still bitter, obviously)
Emilie and I retired at about 11 because it was already getting hot. This area is boiling during the day. You seriously have to hide inside from the hours of 12-3. At least!
Lenny was still sick, but when we got back from lunch and had a bit of a nap, he was feeling better. We got provisions for our next bus ride and were picked up at 5:30 to go to our next VIP bus to Inle Lake!