The Temples Of Bagan Stun From A Hot Air Balloon, Carriage, Or A Motorbike.
MY FIRST MORNING IN BAGAN
As the ancient town of Bagan awakens so does the sun over the temples and pagodas. Colorful hot air balloons slowly rise and with a great ease move gently across the plains as the sun’s blaze cast soft light onto the holy sites. I sit still allowing the cool morning breeze to sweep across my face as the sound of silence permeates my soul. I attempt to capture every detail as I know this moment will be one to cherish for life. When the sun finally reaches its place high in the blue sky and the heat of the day is beginning to form, I hop on my electric bike back to Ostello Bello Hostel for a nourishing breakfast before my day of adventure begins.
Bagan in central Myanmar has one of the most incredible archaeological sites that rival Ephesus, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, and Rome, among others. What sets the Bagan Archaeological Zone apart from these historical sites is the sheer expanse of the area, the canopy of trees, and ease of which to explore. One thousand years ago, over 10,000 religious monuments were erected by the elite class. Therefore, Bagan became known as a pilgrimage route for religious studies.
RIDING THROUGH BAGAN ON AN ELECTRIC BIKE
Riding an electric bike (motorcycle type not pushbike) on narrow dirt roads, meandering between the over 2200 temples and pagodas that remain today, stopping when I pleased, climbing hidden staircases for incredible views and standing within inches of centuries-old well-preserved frescoes was breathtaking. Often I would hop off my bike and be greeted with enthusiasm by a local who was keen on showing me hidden artifacts or a temple solely built to house a 90 foot long reclining Buddha. It was as if I had a private guide waiting for me, therefore in return, I happily purchased a few postcards they were selling.
The two days on an electric bike zooming around Bagan was one of my most incredible travel experiences. The freedom to roam around the breathtaking and beautifully constructed pagodas and temples in the most serene and quiet setting was utterly awesome. The most pleasant part was being warmly embraced by the Burmese. Their smiles, humor, and willingness to go beyond to help this solo traveler (thank you Global Care Bagan Clinic) was truly touching.
*Unfortunately, as Bagan sits atop an active earthquake zone, strong earthquakes over the past centuries have caused major damage. The earthquake of 2016 destroyed hundreds of temples while others are in the process of being reconstructed. (expect to see scaffolding)*
- What: Bagan Archaeological Zone
- Where: Bagan, 290km southwest of Mandalay
- Entrance Fee: $25. Payable when you enter Bagan by bus, taxi, boat etc.. You must show your hotel when you check in. You can buy it at the hotel if you missed the checkpoint. Have the ticket on you as travel through the temples and pagodas, just in case you are asked.
- Hostel: Ostello Bello Bagan. Expensive but they offer free tours, a yummy free breakfast, and awesome chillout areas.
- Ebike Rentals: $5-7 per day. Super easy to maneuver. My first-time solo on a motorbike.
- Food/Snacks: Restaurants and food stalls near the larger temples. Drink stands and snacks at the smaller temples and pagodas.