Bagan, Myanmar

Is it the Happy Temple Land or the new opportunity land?

The difference between the slow Bagan and buzzing Yangon is remarkable. But the difference between the Yangon local lives and Yangon expat lives is even more striking. And more then that, the difference is sad. While 80% (?) of the population in Myanmar is earning less then $10 a month, the expats in this “new found world” are not reluctant to spend $10 for a drink in the newly built posh bars, restaurants serving to the luxury life style of 20 some, 30 some “directors” of the local Myanmar companies just because they are European or just because they are westeners, just because they are better educated, just because they are white or simply just because they are luckier in this world.

The red stained teeth of the men, the bare feet children, the garbage on the side of the roads, the local pareo (?) of the men show a big contradiction when the same red teeth taxi driver answers back with good English or sings along with the American country song he is playing from a CD!

They are receptive to the western culture, they are curious, they are interested in communicating with the foreigners. The years of being a closed society did not make them reluctant but rather curious…They are also happy smiling people. The children are playing and laughing. The women are smiling and waving from a back of a pick up truck that they jammed up in, the men are saying hello simply because they want to greet you, not because they want to sell you something like in rest of south east asia. They are honest, they are friendly…they seem like a peaceful, content nation.

They score high in the World giving index and named as the most charitable nation. People also see to be happy or content. It is not yet the Thailand or Vietnam of south east asia but seems like it started being a new backpacker heaven. I see a few unusual tourists, some NGO workers, some lost souls, some backpackers, some backpacker beginners (they compare their experiences of the a few travels they have done so far , their country count is less then 20…you get the idea) and some fellow explorers…

Renting an e-bike and crusing through the sand covered roads to see tens and hundreds of temples is the thing to do here. And the temples are not only for the tourist, as many locals are there also visiting, paying.

Top Experiences

  • Rent an e-bike and visit the temples
  • Climb the steep steps of She San Taw Pagoda (Chichen Itza like experience)
  • Visit some local residential areas on the way to the pagodas.
  • Sulamani temple

    My favorite Buddhas which are red, as opposed to gold in most other temples, are in Sulamani. Also the paintings inside makes this temple unique.

  • Dine by the river

    Si Thu by the river has amazing views of the river and golden temple of Lawkananda Pagoda but the food is expensive and average.

  • Stroll in New Bagan after sunset and check out the local life.
  • Watch the sunset or sunrise from top of one of the high temples that you can climb up.