January 13, 2015

More Myanmar: Ancient City of Bagan

Bagan is relatively close to Mandalay (or 3 hours by bus if you're us). It is an ancient city where getting around by horse-cart is often the most viable option on the small sandy roads between temples and pagodas. Restaurants here are more difficult to get to just because everything is very rural, spread out, and taxis are very expensive. This was the area that prices were highest if you are a tourist, but also one of my favorite spots. We had two lunches and a dinner at a very cute spot, Yar Pyi, which is right across the street from another famous Bagan Veggie spot: The Moon though the Yar Pyi family tells us they "are not friends" and it seems they vie for business.

The owner was very helpful in telling us about which temple to climb in the
morning to avoid crowds. Some temples are so packed with tourists that you are elbow-to-elbow watching the sunrise. Asking taxis and restaurant owners for the inside scoop almost always turned out very successfully for us. Yar Pyi offered specials such as aubergine curry and guac that was incredible. Definitely order a lassi to drink. We had some great meals at Yar Pyi and I loved their slogan: "Be Kind to Animals". Zarni (our friend and tour guide in Mandalay) told me that he was also a vegetarian from a young age mostly out of "pity" for animals.  Myself as well - I love this compassionate Buddhist culture.

We had another meal in Bagan that was very good and closer to other restaurants and shops since we were staying at Bagan Thande which is sort of far from things but a great hotel right on the river.  It was called Sarabha and was just outside the old Bagan wall so we could walk home with headlamps (Bagan is DARK at night).  Fantastic traditional food, affordable, great service and as always, lots of garlic!                  
If you can find a guy to take you on a boat down the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) river at sunset, definitely do it.  Asking horse the guys who live in their horse carts can be much more affordable than arranging things at your hotel and, like everything else in Myanmar, were incredibly reliable and always on time Don't forget to bring some Myanmar beer with you on whichever adventure you choose to have.....

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