Day 9: Leaving Yangon and flying all over Myanmar to arrive in Bagan. Settling into the Hotel @ Tharabar Gate just in time for a sunset in Bagan, the ancient capital.
We started our day with a delicious breakfast in The Strand Café before checking out and departing for the airport. We made one must-see stop.
We asked the taxi driver to wait for us in the parking lot as we visited the pagoda.
At the entrance we had to take our shoes off and place them around a full shoe rack. After paying the entrance fee we went through a bag check and took an elevator up one floor. There were many monks, believers, and tourist milling about.
The center of the area is dominated by the Golden Pagoda which at 325 ft (99 m) high, can be seen from all over Yangon. Known to be 2,600 years old, it is the oldest pagoda in the world and the most sacred in Myanmar. Within the shrine lies relics from four previous Buddhas.
We walked clockwise around the stupa with the rest of the crowd and enjoyed watching the locals performing their rituals.
We then headed to the airport.
On arrival, I first picked up my bank card at the ATM which was a cinch. When we tried to check-in we found we were at the wrong terminal. The domestic terminal was in a different building, a short walk away.
We went through a lax security to enter the terminal then another one to enter the departure hall. We soon caught our Air Mandalay flight to Bagan (NYU).
Unbeknown to us, the flight path included two rough landings in Heho and Mandalay before the final destination. Fortunately each stop only took around 20 mins with passengers getting on and off like a bus and we got a tuna fish sandwich!
Not long after we got into our taxi, we noticed the many ancient temples randomly perched on the side of the road. We were indeed in a special place.
We arrived at The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate and checked in with a refreshing welcome drink. Taking a moment to see our room, we were back on the road in order not to miss the sunset.
We enjoyed a horse cart ride to the temple, even though it was slow and bumpy.
Also known as the sunset temple, this is a prime gathering point to view Bagan at dawn and dusk. There were already many tourists and locals on the top of temple with hawkers at the base hustling away.
At the entrance we purchased a ticket to the site and then crawled up to the top. Unfortunately the clouds hindered the sunset, but the view was still magnificent.
When it got dark, we headed down and purchased a few souvenirs before finding our driver. On the way back, our driver directed us to a restaurant serving local Myanmar cuisine right next door to our hotel.
Golden Myanmar had a set meal for 3,000 kyats (~$3) per person. The server didn’t speak English so we just decided to blindly try it. We were surprised by a barrage of dishes sent to our table. Our massive feast consisted of twenty dishes with three curries, rice, vegetables, soup, and sweets for dessert.
Happy and satiated with our meal, we returned to the hotel. It was difficult to go to sleep thinking about exploring the ruins tomorrow!