When we arrived at the Yangon highway bus station at 6:30 pm , there were already a large number of people waiting inside the shop where we brought the ticket. The ticket seller recognized us as we walked in. We pointed to the luggage we left at the shop in the morning and start to repack our stuff and also did a bit of cleaning up at the bathroom to remove the dust we collected in Yangon throughout the day..
Before loading our bags onto the bus, they were tagged and we were given tags with the similar numbers. A bit before 7, almost everybody was already on the bus, and a few minutes after 7, the bus left the station and we were on our way to Bagan !
In the seat pocket- we found : a bottle of 1L drinking water and a vanity pack containing toothbrush + toothpaste and wet towel. The TV was on and it was showing a video of the temples of Bagan, beautiful- but it would have helped if it was in English.. The bus was full and most of the passengers looked local. Apart from 4 of us, the only ‘foreigner’ were a Caucasian couple..and maybe the Caucasian might have thought that they were the only foreigners on board as we looked just like the locals…
The bus was going at a reasonable speed and it was a smooth ride…after about 2 hours, I was dozing off sooner than i expected as my view of the TV was blocked by the Caucasian guy sitting in front of me with his big hair-do. The TV started to show a Myanmar movie and as half the screen was blocked by Mr Big Hair, I started to doze off…..
At about 3 hours on the road , the bus came to the resting area , there were already a few express buses parked there, the place was huge. The area was s well lit and the the temperature was getting a bit chilly There were a variety of eateries to choose from . …
I decided to try Mohinga – bee hoon served in fish soup – this cost 500K ( ~RM1.50). this was rather tasty , the soup base was slightly with a sourish tinge and the best part is that it was hot..just nice for a cool night.
We were only given a 30 minutes break and after our meal, we rushed to the washroom , washed our faces and brush our teeth—time for sleep ! And I again observed that the toilets were clean with no bad odours.
After the short break, everybody got on the bus promptly..
I drifted in and out of sleep and woke up with a start when the bus came to a stop, I looked at my watch- it was 4 a.m, and everyone seemed to be busy packing and getting off the bus. OH ! we have arrived at Nyaung U, Bagan ! Yayyyyy..
We got off the bus and felt slightly disorientated- wow, it was coldddd…Brrr. While getting our luggage, we were surrounded by a sea of people offering to take us to our guest house – on horse carts ! My heart gave a leap..Horse Cart..yabadaba doo…
The prices that were offered to us for the cart rides seemed rather inflated compare to the prices quoted in the guidebooks. We bargained and offered our price but that that didn’t seemed to go on well with the drivers and we found that we were being ignored and abandoned by the drivers who were now starting to drift away from us.….And the worse thing was- we seemed to be the only passengers that were left at the station, even Mr Big Hair was gone..It was a bit of a worrying situation, the drivers looked kinda menacing under the florescent lighting at 4 a.m.
We pulled one fella aside and offered him 2,000K, and asked him to get us 2 carts..after a bit of a discussion amongst a few of them—our luggage were collected and loaded on to 2 horse carts. Getting on a horse cart was a bit of a trick , the light were dim and the steps was rather high…but soon we were trotting off to our guest house..Mr Horse Cart Driver said that it was too early to check in at the guess house and suggest to take us for a Sunrise tour. We discussed about a 2 day ‘rental’ and he offered us a 18,000k/ day price – excluding 8000k for the sunrise drive. we had a bit of a horse cart to horse cart discussion with Chunny and W.Hoong who were in the horse cart behind us…their driver seemed more honest and offered a price of 15,000K /day. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at the guest house – May Lar Khar …and we still hadn’t finalized the negotiation with the drivers. We seemed to have arrived at a deadlock and decided to change strategy and get Chunny to negotiate with the drivers while I took a back step. The guest house was open and allowed us to use the common washroom, but the rooms weren’t ready, we also saw 3 other people sleeping on the chairs waiting for their rooms.
After a few minutes Chunny and W.Hoong came into the reception area and said that the drivers had left in a huff and a puff. They had agreed to the 15,000K/day rental but did not agree with the 5000K fee for the sunrise tour. We were left on our own for the second time …boo hoo…We walked up and down the empty street ( well, there was no where to go anyway) hoping to find a horse cart driver but to no avail…after that we loitered around the front gate of the guest house and then saw an empty horse cart passing by, we stopped the driver and he offered the same price for the daily rental and after some bargaining , we got the sunrise tour for 3000K. Yayyyyyy…
It was about 5 something and we could hear chanting over the PA of some of the temples . After sometime, we stopped somewhere in the darkness and the driver asked us to get down from the horse cart, I took a wrong step and fell from the horse cart to the (luckily) soft sandy ground- butt-first , Ouch..well, that definitely woke me up !
It was pitch dark and the driver removed one of his battery operated headlights and passed it to us..we made our way up some steps, we seemed to be going up the stairs of a stupa…and it was freezing….a hot cup of Milo would be great. There were already about maybe 10 – 15 or so people that had arrived before us..and then all of us waited for the sky to lit up…
It was a long ( and cold) wait…
More well to do tourist can go on the hot air balloons and view the sunrise while in mid air..in picture below 3 of the balloons had taken off and there were another three ( the semi globes between the bushes ) still grounded
Wheeeeee…off they went…….hot air balloons always reminded me of ‘Around the world in 80 days’ – the cartoon version I used to watch when I was little. ( for those of you too young to know this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyW_vM7hJJI) I am not sure had Fogg and Passepartout seen Bagan though…
After enjoying the beautiful sunrise..we descended the stairs and explored Shwe Laik Tu Temple ..
Shwe Laik Tu Temple was built during the 13th Century, the original donor of this temple is yet unknown.
We rode back to the guest house, and asked the horse cart driver to pick us up again around 10 a.m. When we arrived, the rooms weren’t ready, we decide to walk down the streets and pacify our rumbling tummies..
Down the street, we found a tea-house, the place was crowded, we managed to find an empty table, we sat facing a little boy who was so enchanted with the National Geographic program shown on the overhead TV that he was shrieking and clapping with excitement, it seemed such a shame that we might be blocking his view, so we decide to change seats and sat at a table facing the road..a monk was also enjoying his cuppa at the tea shop
We saw samosas and yau char koay and decided to try these, the vegetable-filled samosa cost less that 20sen apiece , and these were tasty ! The yauchar koay was not much different from what we got back home
Chunny and W.Hoong ordered fried rice, which came topped with a fried egg..
And in case you are wondering- this was what a horse cart looked like, in Bagan excluding the driver- the horse carts will only carry 2 pax . And one of us would be sitting beside the driver, and the other on the other end of the cart, facing the opposite side
After this—Shwezigon Pagoda….