Monday, November 18, 2013

an extended bike trail around old bagan

on our first bike trail while in Bagan, we chased for sunset and sunrise but the view of an unusual tower rising far North got our attention on the second day. three of us were determined enough to see it. geared with a map provided by the hotel we chose to explore more temples to an extended bike trail the next day.

[1] Hotel at Tharabar Gate
our start point was the hotel beside the ruins of the remains of Tharabar gate. the hotel have bikes for rent or one can also rent from nearby cottages. from here we took the road to Nyaung Oo.
[2] Handicraft Shops
the long paved highway of Bagan-Nyaung Oo was the best warm up. there were few temples and pagodas on the one side and houses on the other side. made some few stops along the way seeing these shops of handicrafts. we checked our map and there was not much to see along this stretch and so we didn't stayed long there.
[3] Shwezigon Pagoda
unlike most of the giant pagodas which are immediately visible from the road, one needs to access this pagoda through this long covered pathway to see its golden stupa. the surrounding area filled with structures for meditation including a replica of the Mahabodhi tree. is also one of the pagodas in Nyaung-Oo that is still actively venerated by many. 
[4] Kyansittha Cave 
to visit this was not on our plan but out of curiosity and accessibility from Shwezigon, we took our chance. we found out that this was actually not a cave but a walled structure with dark rooms covered with murals of Bagan's history. taking photos while inside is prohibited. paintings and symbols of Buddhism are sold just outside. we took some time learning about its significance. it was a worth quick stop.
[5] Gibyauk Gyi
we then diverted through the highway to reach Anawratha road. here Robbie tried and successfully did a no-hand bike move. after a long straight path, we turned right to our next stop. this was a small temple that holds one of the most important script in Bagan's history which is in Mon language painted on its inner walls. many would miss out the significance of this temple for its small size. taking photos inside is prohibited. brass and wooden carved figures are sold inside the temple outer walls. 
[6] Cemetery
this was the part of the trail when we started to get off the paved road. this was the beginning of the long arduous cycling. our destination from here was the towering Nan Myint which we saw during sunrise. we were determined to see it no matter the long distance. along the way we passed by this cemetery. it was an unexpected stop. every time i visit a new country, i am always drawn to see their cemetery. as it reflected their culture. very similar to those in the Philippines but with a local script and does not have a cover.
[7] Nan Myint Tower
every pedal was not moving the bike to a foot distance. the dust was simply getting thicker as we moved farther. no other option but to walk and push our bike. we tried to pedal but it didn't help. sun was up and with less trees, our energy was going down. moved slower and on our left was a fenced golf course while on our right was a flat dry field with few small temples from afar.
we moved forward as going back doesn't seem like a better option. Nan Myint Tower finally was in view but we were already running out of water. when we reached the tower, we realized that the it was closed and that there was no one in the area. no vendors. no water. it simply meant that we have to endure another long bike ride without water. the 60-meter tower was actually built as part of a resort but that time it seemed nonoperational. 
[8] Long Wall
took a short rest to somehow regain energy. the road ahead was better. it was wider and dust was not as thick. looked at a map and we are actually way too far to our next stop. the distance may less likely matter if we still have water. 
there was not a sign that we were coming close to a place selling water. we had to stop once in a while. until we reached the long walls of a ruined temple. still no supply of water. our final resort was to reach the isolated village of Minnathu. 
[9] Minnathu Village
finally we saw some people passed by and they directed us to continue straight. a hope for us. when we reached the village, it actually looked like there was not much houses in it but we found a house that offered food. it was a relief. 
three of us immediately parked our bikes and checked out the menu. they served us peanuts and we requested for water as there was no food to order. we each took a spot to take a nap after the torturous bike ride.
[10] Thaman Paya
not so long, we had to move as we were still too far back to the hotel. bought extra water this time and continued. this time we passed by a large temple after seeing mostly ruins and smaller pagodas. took a quick shot of the temple but did not have enough time to explore it. 
at this point, we started to see tourist van. a good sign that we're back to the common tourist route. piles of small rock pieces were on the side of the road. this was used to cover the the thick dust. 
on one area, we saw the locals spread out the small rock pieces to the road. it didn't help much for our bike as it becomes useful more for the larger vehicles. we saw Dhammayangyi temple from afar which we were supposed to do a stop but was just too tired that we had to skip it.
[11] Ananda Paya
we continued until we finally reached Anawratha road and across it was Ananda Paya. one of the old temples that still attracts devotees and tourists alike. it remains a Holy temple for its statues and mural paintings.
this will be the most memorable and challenging bike ride during our stay in Bagan. this extended bike trail i will less likely recommend but for those who plan to explore the outskirts of Bagan, you can still do this but bring enough water and some energy boosters snacks. 

a more recommended bike route will be posted soon.

area profile:
country: Myanmar (Burma)
island: Greater Eurasia
region: Mandalay
township: Nyaung Oo

temple/pagoda complex access fee: 
entrance to the entire complex is standardized at USD10 per person for the entire time that you'll be in the area. keep the ticket as some temples have inspectors checking for your pass.

touring around:
Bagan temple complex is huge and your option of renting a van, a cart or a bike will depend greatly on the time that you have to explore the temples and your resistance to heat. some temples can be as far 25kilometers while you can find some stupas almost on every corner.
bus/van/car: comfort and you save time moving from one temple to another.
horse/cow cart: slow but a good experience of old local mode of transportation.
bike: active, fast and flexible but consumes a lot of energy. cheapest way to temple hop.
cost for the van/car/cart will vary on the temples that you plan to visit.
cost for bike: USD2-3per person per day. most hotels or inn offer this service.

how to get there:
by plane: there are regular daily flight from Yangon to Nyaung-U. the closest airport is Nyaung-U Airport which is just around 15mins away from the Old Bagan temple and pagoda area. Airlines with regular flights includes: Air Mandalay, Air Bagan, Yangon Airways
by bus: 
from Mandalay: daily bus trips are available to Bagan. duration: 6-8hours (estimate: USD10-15)
from Yangon: daily bus trips are available to Bagan. duration: 10-12hours (estimate: USD15-22)
from Nyay Pyi Taw: daily bus trips available to Bagan. duration: 5-7hours (estimate: USD10-15)
by train: 
daily trips from Mandalay and Yangon are available but the trip time may vary depending on the train stop duration. 


LonelyTravelogue said...

is this a whole day activity? grabe... napagod ako sa pagbabasa pa lang hehe... and it seems that biking is really a recommended thing to do in Bagan. at kailnangan barefoot? re: Gibyauk Gyi pic... hehe

bertN said...

It is an awful feeling to exert physical effort when you are dehydrated. You did not think of carrying extra supply of water at the start of your biking venture?

SEO Mumbai said...

Nice Blog Dear and the photo shoot is amazing.

Ian said...

Your shots are amazing! It really captures the culture of the place even in pictures.

Joni Francisco said...

Mukhang nakakapagod yang ginagawa mong pag-bbike:) Pero nakakainggit!

jelai♥ said...

owpsy dowpsy! @_@
Didn't thought you would be this adventorous..Ameeeeyziiing!! A TRAVELER, indeed,.. You may have noticed me or not but I truly admire you sire the day we first met.(FIRST and LAST meeting, I guess.. hehe)
You just spoke on that Retreat Day I had joined in for a special congregation at Mt. Carmel Center Dumaguete (remember the DGTE?) the 'ANG LINGKOD NG PANGINOON' group just conducted few days ago. How heart squeezing it was to hear those words you've relayed on us that day. Thank you.
This blog doesn't have some special features in it or what, but I would be glad and grateful if you would visit it once in a while. Mind following me afterwards? Hope we could keep in touch even through blogging. Honored to meet you sire *salute*

SunnyToast said...

sa picture palang pagod na ako..fln ko ako yong nag bike..hahaha...need nito ng maraming bottle of sunbck and init lang:)

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Etizolam Online said...

You are a great traveler. These photographs of yours made me pack my bags, and go to these places. I will plan to visit them soon. Keep traveling!

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