2/8/18: Barefoot in Bagan

I woke up feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep.

I went downstairs to get breakfast. I wasn’t sure what it would be, but I just crossed my fingers that there would be something that I could eat. It turned out to be toast, eggs, and fruit. The toast had some butter on it, but it was such a small amount that I ate it anyway with some jam and tahini (see yesterday’s blog post on why I’ve gotten more flexible).

Our hostel was in New Bagan (Ostello Bello, which pretty much has a monopoly on hostels in Bagan) so Hannah and I rented bikes and rode up to Old Bagan, where all the temples are. There are SO many temples in Bagan that it was hard to figure out a strategy. We decided to just ride around and explore.

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Thatbyinnyu Temple
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All the temples have buddhas at all 4 corners
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Ananda Temple
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Sinphyushin Temple

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Temple feet! Barefoot all day

The temples were really cool, and unlike any others I’ve ever been to. They were more like ancient ruins than temples. Yes, there were buddhas and people praying, but the structures were so old that they somehow felt less religious and more historical. After a few temples we were hungry so we decided to get lunch.

We went to Khaing Shwe Wha, a Burmese vegetarian restaurant in Old Bagan. I got eggplant curry, which was properly spicy and delicious. At the end of the meal they brought us fruit and the most delicious tamarind candy I’ve ever had!! I think it was homemade. There were so many layers of flavor, it was crazy.

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“Be a hero, be a meat zero!” So cute
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Looks gross but was really good

Side note: I’ve noticed that it’s typical for Burmese restaurants to offer complimentary fruit after the meal as dessert. Some restaurants, especially in Bagan, also offer little tamarind treats. It’s really nice!

We kept exploring for the rest of the afternoon. We got a decent work-out in– it was super sunny and the roads were made of dirt/sand, so it was pretty hard to pedal at times. It was like riding in quicksand.

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These kids were so cute

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Sulamani Temple
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Adorable baby photo shoot!
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Shwesandaw Temple

About 10 temples later, we were ready for a late afternoon snack. Almost all the temples have stalls selling coconuts outside, so we each bought one.

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Bellies full of coconut juice & meat, we tried to find a temple to watch the sun go down. We found one with a nice viewpoint, but the temple had signs clearly saying that climbing was not allowed. We saw a bunch of people who had ignored the sign and climbed up, so it was a bit of a moral dilemma. We chose not to climb and just find somewhere else to watch the sunset.

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People on temple with “No climbing” sign
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Taken while looking for a spot to watch the sunset

We ended up at some random field. It was nice– there were temples all around us and no humans. We took advantage of all the privacy and took a bunch of pictures of each other. As millennials do.

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We rode back (sweaty AF) and got dinner at a pizza place called La Pizza, a two-minute walk from the hostel. I wanted to get pizza, but the waitress told me they make the dough with peanut oil. I’m allergic to peanuts, but I was pretty sure I could eat peanut oil (As future Anna writing this, I can say with certainty that yes I can eat peanut oil. I later found out that peanut oil is used in almost every dish in Myanmar, so there is a 99.9% chance I’d already had peanut oil.). However, I got nervous and ordered pasta instead.

It was aglio e olio, so not the most exciting meal, but it was fine.

We got back to the hostel just as they were starting to play Stop (basically Scattergories). We joined in, had a beer, and called it a night as we would be waking up for the sunrise the next morning.

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