The bus ride to Bagan took around 6 hours and if the road conditions were better, it would have been quite a comfortable journey. The ‘VIP’ overnight buses in Myanmar are actually quite spacious. On this particular journey we had a tv in the back of the seat and they even stopped at a restaurant for our dinner which was included in the price! Sadly due to the roads being so bad, its almost certain you are in for quite a bumpy ride.
Arriving at 3.45am ahead of schedule was kind of annoying as we didn’t get as much sleep as we thought we would have. We were dropped outside of town and therefore were forced to pay quite an overpriced fare to get a taxi to the hotel. We drove up to the ticketing gate where tourist have to pay a fee (25,000 Kyats / £14) to enter Bagan, this ticket then gives you access to all the pagodas and temples which isn’t too bad considering there is around 2000 of them.
Our hotel were kind enough to let us check in early, so we dumped our bags off in the room and decided whilst we were up we may as well enjoy our first sunrise here. There was a pagoda 3kms away we had been told was good to watch from so we headed out in the dark, walking quite quickly to ensure we got there in plenty of time. The fun but also annoying thing about Bagan is that some of the pagodas have a ‘key master’ who locks them at night and opens them in the morning. This means that you need to find a sunrise pagoda that will be open. The first one we tried was locked but luckily the next one we found didn’t have a gate. The staircases in the pagodas are very narrow and small meaning those who don’t like confined spaces (like me) will not enjoy going up or down them. Luckily sunrise was approaching so we didn’t have time to waste, also the staircases were full of mozzies so I had no other choice once I was inside and just ran up as quickly as I could. The sunrise was really nice but what was really amazing was that when the hot air balloons were up, they came right over the top of us, making for some pretty great pictures.The hot air balloon rides in Bagan are famous and the season runs until March so we were lucky to here at the time. We found out it costs $380 per person!!! We also felt that we wanted the view with the balloons, which you obviously wouldn’t get if you were up there. After sunrise we headed out for breakfast with everyone before heading back to our hotels for a rest. I still wasn’t feeling 100% and was still struggling to eat a bit so I was happy to have a rest.
That afternoon we headed out with Heike and Julia to get a snack, the walk to the restaurant almost made me faint and I was feeling quite bad again as I hadn’t been able to eat properly. I decided to go back to the hotel with some food so I could eat in the aircon as the heat wasn’t helping me. I managed to eat most of my dinner and watch a couple of shark documentaries before falling asleep at 8pm. Charlie had gone out with the others to watch the sunset and then get some dinner.The next morning we woke up for another sunrise. Still not 100% I was very happy that today we were all hiring e-bikes to drive ourselves around the pagodas on. We headed out to a pagoda much further away to get a different view of the sunrise and the balloons. As usual there was a cramped mozzie infested tunnel to climb up but luckily the sunrise was worth it. The balloons were further from us today but still came along either side of the pagoda we were on and we were really happy with the recommendations we had been given.Some of the pagodas were known to get really crowded at sunrise but so far we had managed to escape the big crowds. We went back to the hotel for a little rest and to get our e-bikes battery recharged. After the mid day sun had settled a little we were back out exploring, annoyingly the shop had given us a different e-bike which didn’t have much charge on it and we didn’t realise until we were out so Charlie and I had to turn back to go get the battery changed. Luckily we did as on the way home our bikes battery was almost dead and we were pretty much rolling there (sometimes at as little as 5km per hour). We ended up missing one or two of the pagodas we wanted to see because of this but managed to get ourselves to the sunset pagoda in time to meet the others.We had one more morning in Bagan and whilst I didn’t want to get up for sunrise again, Charlie was very good to convince me that we may as well while we were here. We walked again this time hoping to find another one close by. We tried a few with no luck / no sign of the key master and we were about to go back to the one we knew from the first morning before we could see some small figures on the top of one nearby. We headed there, climbed up and found a spot just in time for sunrise. The sunrise was probably the least impressive of the 3 due to the balloons being so far away but the sunrise itself was still very beautiful. It was interesting to see that every day the sunrise changed and the balloons went in different directions, which was why getting up each morning was worth it.