After two days in Yangon to see the usual touristy sites I headed to Bagan…to see the usual touristy sites (mainly: temples. Thousands of temples). Bagan was/is incredible. I’m not much of a history buff/church go-er/lover of temples but I was truly, truly impressed.
I arrived at 4:30am with a Chilean Stranger Friend (i.e. a stranger you’ve hung around with for awhile) and we caught a horse and buggy to our hotel. We decided to keep our horse and buggy around for a bit (it was kind of cool) and started Day 1 of temple seeing. Each day in Bagan was as follows: wake up at an ungodly hour, go see temples, nap/wifi from noon til 4, then more temples for the sunset. My Chilean Stranger Friend and I did this on repeat, but we mixed up our modes of transportation (horse and buggy, bicycle, e-bike aka scooter, etc.). The most memorable of these modes of transportation was the bicycle. Here’s why:
We saw posters advertising bikes with gears and helmets and other “fancy” gadgets but I, being on a budget, decided on the $1 for 24 hours “basic” bicycle rental (first mistake).
The roads to the temples are mostly dirt. And by dirt I mean mostly but kind of all sand. So I was on my “gearless” bicycle that I swear was once a bike with gears but just got stuck on the most difficult gear possible, peddling through the sand, following this Chilean Stranger Friend that has her heart set on watching the sunset at the farthest temple possible. What would take 5 minutes by car took us a good hour (in the blistering Myanmar heat I might add) but…we made it.
Post sunset photo-op, Chilean Stranger Friend wanted to take the scenic route back to the hotel (of course she did) so we set out in the direction we *thought* would eventually lead us home. Now, I’m going to do some complaining here but in actuality it was a pretty sweet adventure and we saw some cool shit. But back to the story…
The sun had set and I got a flat tire. My rickety, impossible to pedal bicycle was now, legitimately, impossible to pedal. A kind Burmese man noticed me on the “road” (they see everything us white people do) and came to the rescue, offering to fix it at his nearby house (make that hut). So we followed Kind Burmese Man and he took us to his hut.
While he attempted to fix my tire (it apparently involved an hour’s worth of labour) his wife fed us peanuts and his mother-in-law offered me her burrito-sized cigar (thanks, but no thanks).
Here is a photo of Grams…justa smokin (upon further inspection it is not quite the size of a burrito. Smaller than a burrito, bigger than a taquito).
Kind Burmese Man finished up, pointed us in the direction we were supposed to go and off we headed. About 10 minutes in it had started to rain and my tire was, again, completely flat. About 20 minutes in it was completely dark outside, we were still on the sand trail to nowhere and there was not a person, hut or streetlight in sight. We wandered aimlessly.
About 30 minutes in another kind Burmese man (we’ll call him Kind Burmese Man #2) passed by on a motorcycle. Kind Burmese Man #2 led us to the main road, us following his headlights. He then left us.
About 70 minutes in we were still aimlessly peddling the streets, but at least it was now on pavement and in streetlight. I’d say it was about 2 hours after leaving the hut that we finally found our hotel.
Psh. “Scenic” route.