To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
Our second week in Myanmar took us to a small town called Bagan. Due to its vast expanse of ancient temples sprinkled throughout the area’s bare terrain, Bagan is by far the most popular stop on every traveller’s Myanmar itinerary.
If you’ve gawped at any of the jaw-dropping photos of the sunrise over the temples of Bagan on Insta, you’ll know why…
After a tiresome night bus up from Yangon, we spent our first day catching up on sleep and exploring the town before hopping on a horse and carriage (yup, that’s how old school it is here) to take us to a temple to watch the sunset.
The horse trotted its way along dusty orange tracks passing rustic, toppling over temples as well as, impressive refurbished pagodas with rickety bamboo ‘scaffolding’ around their spires.
We all said it felt like we were in the Serengeti – we were waiting for a leopard to jump around the corner at any second.
When we arrived at our chosen pagoda, Pyathada Paya, we perched on a mound overlooking the hazy horizon peppered with sprouting temples of all shapes and sizes and awaited for the sun to sink behind the clouds.
And whilst we soaked up our surroundings, our driver changed his horse’s shoes. Driver come blacksmith!
The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn to watch the iconic sunrise over Bagan’s sea of temples. We rented e-bikes (scooters run on batteries) to get to our chosen sunrise spot as well as, to scoot between the temples later on in the day.
We arrived at Lowka Ou Shaung temple just as the sky was beginning to lighten. We grabbed a coffee and swiftly scurried up the stairs to join the other tourists. We perched on the edge of the temple and waited for Bagan to show us its magic.
It wasn’t until the sky was entirely light (we had almost given up hope) that the fiery pink sun decided to peek its head over the horizon and the hot air balloons slowly bobbed up into the sky one by one.
As they glided above the temples and across the rising sun, the balloons looked like a 2D mirage.
We sat in awe watching as they drifted across the sun causing a split second eclipse.
It was an experience which truly lived up to its expectations.
We spent the rest of our day bopping around the different temples scattered across the area and babysitting a very cute local…
Until he was nabbed back by his grandmother…
After a couple of days in Bagan we made our way to Mandalay. Another major city in Myanmar, Mandalay boasts an ancient palace as well as, the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world – the U Bein Bridge.
Although I loved our evening watching the sunset over the character-filled bridge, there wasn’t much else there to fill our time so, we swiftly moved onto Hsipaw – a cute trekking town around 8 hours North of Mandalay.
A lot of travellers head to Hsipaw to book onto an overnight trek through the Shan Villages. However, we opted to do our own ‘self-guided’ treks around the area as we knew we were going to be doing a three-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake later on in the week – ease us in gently and all that…
We explored the town’s hot springs and wandered through quaint Shan Villages alongside the river.
It was peaceful, relaxing and beautiful.
We were even treated to an extravagant parade where the local villagers came together to celebrate a young boy going to the monastery to become a monk…
Our next stop was Kalaw where we trekked for 3 days/2 nights through tribal villages, plantations and stunning scenery.
We even had the great opportunity to stay at a local house and a monastery!
This trek was by far the highlight of our time in Myanmar and therefore, warrants its whole own post (coming soon).
After returning to Thailand from Myanmar, I had to wave goodbye to Lizzie, my sister who I had been travelling with for 4 months. Her departure left me feeling rather blue so I decided to treat myself to a nice hostel and readjust to solo travel on the beach…
I am now on Koh Chang island off of the coast of Thailand where I have been chilling and planning my next big trip – LA. Here, I am meeting up with my friend, (also called Lydia) who I haven’t seen since leaving the UK back in December 2015!!
I have been in Asia for 6 months now so am feeling very excited yet apprehensive about this big leap back to Western life.
Wish me luck!
Until next week…