I know, and I’m sorry, re the Dad joke of a pun you see up above, but hold on just a moment and you will see that really it is simply the best description of this hidden gem that still remains quite a treasure from the SE Asia trail (although I do think banana pancakes are slowing making their way here, hark).
When travelling Asia you do seem to see an unfathomable amount to temples, in the end it feels almost like a chore compared to that first breath taking visit of color, detail and all that Asian opulence so unfamiliar to (my) simple Australian eyes. Bagan does not apply. It seems to have so many temples that you cannot get sick of them, in some strange way.
Undoubtedly, like me you will arrive here at an unwelcome pre-twilight hour (Myanmar haven’t figured out the travellers overnight bus ritual to skimp on accommodation and not lose a day, or perhaps they have and are making sure their guesthouses are making the most of tourist dollars each night, expect to arrive at places around 3am, paid bed needed).
Awaiting you arrival will be horse and carts, the popular form of transport in this centuries behind place to whisk you away somewhere more comfortable to see out the night. It’s only a short ride, about 10 minutes but there is something quite magical about the eerie darkness and sound of the horses feet as your wind your way to somewhere unknown, breath baited to sneak a glimpse of the surrounding landscape still covered by night.
What you will wake to is something far more spectacular than the pictures can show. There are over 10, 000 religious monuments here, some toweringly grand, others scattered amongst the landscape that create ‘that’ sunset backdrop, best seen from atop one of the temples themselves.
During the day the best way to explore Bagan is via bicycle, which seem as old as the temples themselves and make for a decent few days of exercise along the endless roads, often of dirt and sand.
You will get lost here continuously and it’s the best way to do it. Explore as far as your legs will take you, meet as many of the beautiful locals as possible, and eat at the French cafe, because I’m sorry Myanmar, you’re food isn’t as amazing as your temples.
I won’t pretend I can describe this place in any words fitting, the best I can say is to go there for yourself.