My plan was to leave Kalaw on the slow train to Thazi, a scenic slow train trip up, down and around mountainous countryside.
Unfortunately when i got to the train station the ticket office told me that there were no tickets, they had all been block booked by the military for the next 3 days. Looks like it was going to be the bus over to Bagan then. The only bus that day was the 8 p.m. night bus getting in at about 4 o’clock the next morning. I bought a ticket but thought better of it an hour later over a coffee and changed it for the next morning. Backpackers normally take these buses as it saves on a nights accomodation but it does get you in somewhere at 4-5 o’clock in the morning, you have a few hours to kill before anywhere comes alive and your hotel doesn’t normally allow you to check in before midday. As a flashpacker i booked back into my hotel and left the next day on the bus to Bagan.
Old locomotive at Bagan train station –
It was actually a good decision as the first part of the journey was very scenic driving around the mountain roads, the driver seemed sensible unlike the crazy bus drivers of other Asian countries. The bus journey was good and i arrived at Bagan mid afternoon.
On the second day i rented a bicycle from the hostel, a whole whopping dollar for the whole day complete with padlock. I cycled around the temples stopping as and when i wanted, there were literally so many you couldn’t see anywhere near all of them. They all had free access to and around them, the larger more popular temples had the souvenir sellers of course and when i was asked where i came from they said ‘BBC, very good !’, makes a difference from ‘Rooney, Rooney’ i guess.
You wouldn’t have thought they need an excuse for any new pagodas but this one caught my eye ! –
After being out for the day i pedalled home and was glad to be out of the heat and the dust. The town was incredibly dry and dusty, you didn’t realise how bad until the sun went down and you walked down the main road, it was like a fog had come down making it difficult to see any distance.
I spent the next day wandering around town, i had wanted to do a hot air ballon ride over Bagan but when i checked the price of $380 for an hours flight couldn’t justify the cost. I kind of regret it as some of the photos i have seen look stunning and one traveller i met said it had been one of his most memorable trips.
Seen from the train as i left Bagan –