Myanmar Day 4: More of Bagan
And so our Myanmar adventure continues!
For Day 4, we have another whole day in Bagan ahead of us before our night bus to Yangon. I had zero plans on the list already, while a trip to Mandalay or another part of Myanmar sounds great, sched is already tight and tiring. I can't spend another 5-hour on the road.
So Ruth and I decided to go back to Downtown Bagan and just ask for recommendations and other things to do in the area. That's one of my fave things in traveling, there are times when you don't have to be super OC with your itinerary. There are countries where you can just go there with zero plans, and end up doing things recommended by online friends and friendly locals. Now that I think of it, our whole Myanmar trip is built from recommendations, which is actually pretty cool!
Around WeStay Hotel
We woke up and headed for the buffet breakfast, I think our first one coming straight from a good night's sleep in a proper bed ever since we arrived in Myanmar. We usually eat upon arrival from a night bus or a plane ride. Unlike the day before, they served the buffet outdoors by the veranda. Since it's pretty much a chill day, ang sarap lang tumambay! I had my usual yellow foods and multiple servings of brewed coffee.
After getting ready, we waited for our hotel's free shuttle to downtown. We walked around outside to check out the pool we never had the chance to try (huhu), and saw the other facilities like the gym and other separate rooms of WeStay Hotel. I always mention that this is one of the best deals we had for this trip, we booked the hotel at roughly just Php 2000 / night.
And so we're off again to Downtown Bagan!
Mani Sithu Market
When we asked Kuya Zaw for recommendations, he said that we can just go to the other places around Old Bagan that we missed yesterday via his "Magic Carpet". These are more temples and pagodas, a museum, and a market.
But after all has been said, I also met really nice sellers who are so generous with their words of praises. They'll make you feel like you're a celebrity! They are very persistent, but also very sweet people. I even met a male seller holding up a hundred peso bill when he found out we were from the Philippines! They also loved dropping titles of Pinoy teleseryes that they've watched, showing ways that we can all connect and relate to in one way or another.
On the eastern side of Old Bagan is a walled compound with a fortress named the Tharaba Gateway. These are 19th century walls enclosing more temples and pagodas namely the Mingalar Kyaung, Thabyinyu, Shwegugyi, Gawdawpalin, Mahabodi Pagoda, and the Bu Phaya. It resembles the Intramuros to me, but temples and pagodas instead of houses and churches.
I am not sure how we can go around here, but other locals and tourists were on motorbikes and bicycles. I guess cars were not allowed, so Kuya Zaw dropped us off by the entrance.
Ruth and I just walked and walked, although we're clueless as to which direction we should go. We chanced upon this cute fur ball in front of one of the abandoned structures. The doggo was happily wagging it's tail non-stop, looking at us, as if expecting our visit!
To be honest, we can't figure out which is which in the map, haha!
One of my Day 2 favorites, no doubt, is this temple with a second floor viewing deck. It was hard to search for its name online, but its distinct quality is you have to go up a staircase from the side to reach the entrance. When I saw the brick wall covering it, I knew that it's this temple!
We arrived at around 12-ish in the afternoon, so the sun's heat can be a bit unbearable. We went up and inside the temple, and then saw another steeper way up.
It's a viewing deck where we got a nice 360 view of Old Bagan while running around the four different sides of Shwegugyi Temple. Hot cement did not stopped us from seeing all these wonderful views.
With just three stops, we're already hungry! I think it's because of the day's weather, it felt steaming compared to yesterday's hot weather. Ruth and I had our lunch in one of the online world's most recommended restos in Old Bagan. I even saw this in Pax's travel blog post during her Myanmar visit! The Starbeam Bistro is just next to the vegetarian restaurant where we had lunch the day before. As usual, I ordered a vegetarian curry with iced coffee. I also had a fruit shake, which made Ruth laugh! Ang dami ko daw drinks! I guess it was really extra hot that day!
It's easy to distinguish the Bupaya Pagoda from the rest because of its location--Right next to the Ayeyarwady River. It is also so gold and blinding!
Picture din sila o, hehe:
The Gawdawpalin is the second tallest temple in Bagan, and resembles the other temples we visited on our first day.
Bagan Archaeological Museum
We had no plans of paying for extra entrance fees, but the heat was a good excuse for an aircon break. Ticket to the Bagan Archaeological Museum is worth 5000 Kyats or around Php 180. It's a huge place, but Ruth and I just went mindlessly around the ground floor while enjoying our aircon and internet break.
Only phones were allowed inside, so we left our cameras and bags in these lockers. It's also a break from carrying our heavy stuff, hehe.
A second encounter of a pagoda right next to a river is the Lawkananda Paya, which is right next to the Irrawaddy River. Its name means "Joy of the World". Just like the Bupaya Pagoda, this pagoda is in color gold but hardly noticeable with the construction going on.
Shwe Ou Coffee
We asked Kuya Zaw to take us to a coffee shop for another break from touring. He sent us to Shwe Ou Coffee, a highly recommended cafe in Tripadvisor. When we went in, Ruth and I were the only guests. Place is not air conditioned, but still comfortable since we're the only ones there. I had scoops of their homemade ice cream, while Ruth got an iced coffee. I love their ice cream, and wished I ordered for 5 scoops instead of 3!!
A (less-touristy) Sunset Viewing Deck
We were down to our last stop before saying goodbye to Bagan! Kuya Zaw took us to another sunset viewing deck, and he said that it's the less touristy one. Ruth and I took turns in taking photos in "our own pagoda", so imagine how many times we had to go up and down the steep stairs just to take this shot, haha!
Kuya Zaw returned and told us he'll take us to a better view. So sorry I wasn't able to get the pagoda's name, if it has one! The pagoda is still filled with tourists, but nothing like in Shwesandaw.
While seated along with the other tourists, it felt like we were inside a cinema or theater. Everyone's so quiet, so I had time to observe. The girl in front of me was recording the skyline, hoping for a miracle that there'll be a nice, clear sunset tonight. I copied her and opened my time lapse.
Ruth kept on repeating that there's nothing like Manila's sunset, and I agree that even Manila Bay will awestruck you on a normal day. I Googled for Bagan's sunset photos and they do have beautiful ones, but maybe we were just there on a bad season (rainy). But what amazed me was how people, in this time of digital entertainment, can keep quiet and steady in their own seats. Kaya naman pala natin! We were all just waiting and staring, nature and history right in front of us as the main roles and lead actors to this one-of-a-kind repertoire.
After a while, Ruth and I decided to go down to meet Kuya Zaw, who took us back to our hotel in time for pack up and quick dinner. It was all brief encounters, from the people to the places, but I was already feeling pangs of separation anxieties during our long night-drive. 😩
Back in a Night Bus
Day 4 ended yet again in another night bus. We were able to buy our bus tickets also via Kuya Zaw, who has been our life saver for the whole Bagan leg of this trip! Ruth and I agreed on getting solo seats so we can sleep better for this ride.
At the hotel, we ordered room service while freshening up and fixing our things. I caught a Tagalog teleserye in their local TV, and remembered the sellers who kept mentioning titles of Filipino shows, hehe! I heartily ate after I made sure everything's inside my luggage. We had a few boo boos when we checked out because we weren't booked for the night na pala, but the charges for few hours extension was so affordable! We were settled just in time when our bus for Yangon arrived.
Watch Myanmar Day 4 Instagram Stories:
Read more on my Myanmar adventures HERE.