Today, I had the best scrambled eggs this side of the Raffles in Singapore followed by a fantastic bike safari through the temple plain, stopping off at a number of key places including Bagan’s top three temples. The three most famous Bagan pagodas are the Thatbyinnyu, Ananda and Shwezigon Temples. Thatbyinnyu is the tallest Bagan pagoda (high as a 17-story modern building). Ananda, though slightly shorter than Thatbyinnyu, it is one of the oldest yet best preserved Bagan pagodas. Four tall standing Buddha statues peacefully adorn its corners. Lastly Shwezigon, this is the holiest of the Bagan pagodas. Its impressive gilded bell-shaped stupa houses relics of Buddha.
It was a celebration day related to the full moon so the sites were buzzing, not with tourists but locals and pilgrims. We met a myriad of lovely folk and captured many images that will prompt our memories in the future. Our vegetarian lunch at “Moons – let’s save the animals” was fantastic; lentil soup with ginger and coriander followed by a spicy veggie chapati!
After changing money at “Farmer” an authorised money changer at the rear of a giant Ali- baba pot shop we continued into old Bagan to meet an hilarious traffic jam that would do no disservice to a Monty Python sketch. We managed to circumnavigate this blockage by scaling the remnants of the old city wall, bikes included!
From here we headed to the Irrawaddy river flood plain where we met four lovely ladies farming a form of watercress. They loved us taking snaps with them grins wider than the English Channel. Further along we stopped for a Sunrise Cocktail and Lime Spritzer before returning for a shower. 20 mins later we were off again into the temple plain this time on pony and trap!
A pagoda or two later we climbed our last Bagan temple to record the sunset. The ponies sped us back for dinner at the stupendous local restaurant that is Aye May Thida where I demolished curried eggs, hot and spicy prawns and coconut rice. 2 beers lay heavy on the belly as we retired to bed early ready for a 5am departure to the ferry terminal and the 12 hour cruise to Mandalay. Kipling can eat his heart out!