On the plains of Bagan, Myanmar, in an area almost exactly the same size as the island of Saipan, are the ruins of over 10,000 Buddhist temples constructed during the heyday of the Kingdom of Pagan of the 11th to 13th century. Numbers vary, but it is estimated that several thousand of the original structures are still standing, in varying states of integrity. The area is still under consideration for classification as one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites.
As seen from the air, it is just spectacular [click on that link--my photo just doesn't do it justice]:
Tourists are not allowed to operate motorcycles there so the transportation options are to rent a private car and driver for a few hours (we did that one morning--3hrs for 15,000K), to rent bicycles (we did that too: 1,000K/day), or to rent Chinese-made electric bikes called "E-bikes", which are one step down from a scooter in vroom (=less power and much less noise---12,000K for two for 8 hrs).
It turned out that all five of us could fit on two of them so that's what we did most of the time.
|[this is so safe]|
|fresh-squeezed juices and lassis available everywhere you go,|
just one more thing to love about Bagan
|you can't go anywhere without catching glimpses of temples through|
Once the rainy season is past, it is very dry and dusty in Bagan in November. The sand is deep on the unpaved roads, and on some of the paved ones, too. We figured it was better than mud, though, as far as vehicles are concerned. And personally, I loved the dryness. It made for cool evenings and mornings (almost chilly in the morning!) and not-too-warm days where you feel just fine in the shade. My favorite.
The colder mornings also provide ideal conditions for hot air ballooning and for a mere $350/person, you can do that. We passed, and went to a tall viewing tower by the golf course instead ($5), but later some fellow tourists told us that they felt it had been worth every penny.
|sunset on the Ayaryawaddy river|
|you can climb all over some of the ruins, as long as you remove your shoes first--|
the kids LOVED this part
We stayed at the Thante Hotel in Nyaung U which was wonderful. I would highly recommend it, if only for the breakfast in the garden (included in the price) and the pool. But the service was excellent there, too, and we had not found that to be the case everywhere we stayed.
And now for the mandatory sunset shots:
We ended up sticking around and staying an extra two nights in Bagan because it was just so much fun, and so beautiful and relaxing, and because we just thought it was so cool to be there.
This place is definitely worth traveling across the planet to visit. For sure.