We spent about four days in Bagan. The main thing to do in Bagan is to rent these electric bikes and go around the 2904820 pagodas in the area like this one.
The trendy thing is to do a balloon ride over the pagodas at sunset. Unfortunately for us, this was too costly. These balloon trips run for about 300 euros. I don’t think we spent 300 euros between the two of us for the entire 8/9 days in Myanmar. Apparently, It is worth the hype and money. I didn’t read a single negative review of this experience and everyone I spoke to told us, we missed a “once and lifetime experience.” Maybe that was a mistake for not going! I have probably wasted 300 euros on something way dumber. However, I’m just going to pretend it isn’t and congratulate myself for saving the money. Besides, I hate waking up before dawn for anything. I’m not even sure a balloon ride in Burma would do it.
We did some pagoda exploring the first couple of days there. You can rent an E-bike for the day for about 50 kyats ( 3 euros) and take off. Of course, at most of the more massive temples, you see people trying to sell you various trinkets.
This was one thing that I was NOT a fan of
The vast sums of cash put in front of the golden buddhas in the Pagodas irritated me. I would like to know more about where this cash goes. I sincerely hope it does not only go to the temples. I agree they need to be maintained, but I sure hope this money is put towards something useful such as social services. I can’t say I’ve done the research, but I am going to guess that it doesn’t. If someone wants to call me out on being ignorant and explain this, please do. I would be happy to be wrong in this case.
Another Myanmar thing that I was a little confused about is the issue with child monks in Myanmar. If an 8-year-old become a Catholic monk or Imman, everyone would be up in arms. How is an 8-year-old even know if they want to commit to such a thing? I found out after some inquiries that a child monk in Myanmar is the equivalent of some kid in the West going to Catholic school. It doesn’t make the long-term commitment to the faith until it is older or something. I guess there is some element of security to being a Buddhist monk or monk in training as well. People look out after you and give you money. They don’t appear to be struggling as others that have to spend all day working hard for an average monthly salary of 50 USD.
The best time to explore them is during sunset. Unfortunately, when we were there, the police tried to ban climbing on them. Supposedly some idiot fell off one, and they decided to tell everyone they couldn’t. The cops even felt sorry about it and let us write down what we thought about this
Too bad for them, they can’t control all the pagodas. Mike and I went off with some people from the hostel, and we did manage to find some pagoda to watch the sunset from.
Pagoda’s are not the only thing to do in Bagan. We also took a day trip to Mt. Popa ( which of course had more pagodas) It was a lovely sight, but unfortunately we couldn’t help notice the massive heap of trash thrown off this holy mountain.
We also took an Irrawaddy river sunset cruise.
The hostel we stayed in was one of the best I’ve stayed in ever. I highly recommend Ostello Bello Bagan Pool. They have a friendly staff and there is a small pool area to unwind after a day of pagoda fun.
Bagan was beautiful, but after some days I was ready to continue on to something else. One of the things I was somewhat surprised in Bagan was how restrictive and authoritative Buddhism could be. I have not lived under a rock, and I’m pretty versed in the faith. I notice that it usually gets a pass as being an easygoing and tolerant compared to other religions.
Despite silly laws and curfews, I found the people to be still lovely overall. Some sweet young guy found my drivers license and contacted me on Facebook before I even knew it was gone. He brought it to me right before my bus came to pick me up and didn’t expect anything in return. I’m still in contact with this friend to this day. Thanks, Min Aug! After getting my license, the purple and yellow bus came to take us away back to Yangoon.
Thanks for reading about my Bagan experience. Stay tuned to hear more about my adventures in Southeast asia and anywhere else!