Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Myanmar, Day 4: Yangon Departure & Bagan Arrival

We left Yangon in the morning after eating breakfast at our hotel. As we had done each morning since we arrived, we tried the mohinga again and, again, it was different! Still tasty, just different. I described it briefly in a previous post, but I will add a bit more detail: mohinga seemed to be a kind of noodle soup with very thin noodles in a fish paste and onion oil broth, sprinkled with sesame seeds and containing tomatoes, eggs, chickpea powder and onions. After breakfast, our driver, Zo, met us outside the hotel and took us to the airport. Our flight to Bagan would depart at 10:30AM and we had about 90 minutes to kill. We noticed the Italians that had been staying in our hotel were waiting for the same flight as us, but we didn't really acknowledge each other beyond exchanging smiles. Anyway, after checking in, we settled down to a cup of coffee and took advantage of thirty minutes of free wi-fi, which seemed lightning-quick compared to the snail's-pace service we had received at the hotel.

The plane, a little two-propellor job, left on time and the flight lasted about two uneventful hours. On the way out of the airport after landing, we had to pay an additional fee of 25,000 kyats each (approximately $18 per person) to enter the Bagan Archaeological Zonewe were noticing that there were quite a few hidden fees in a trip to Myanmar. Following a brief taxi from the airport to Amazing Bagan Resort, which was, according to Vito, as amazing as advertised, we left our luggage in the room, enjoyed the complimentary fruit platter that was waiting for us, oriented ourselves to the surrounding area and then went for a bike ride using the hotel's complimentary bicycles.

We rode into Nyaung-U, which was the closest village to our hotel, and ate lunch at Weather Spoon. We ordered the pickled tea leaf salad (a Burmese specialty and, after one tasting, already becoming our favorite dish) and a couple other salads, washed them down with bottles of Dagon and Mandalay beer, and then made our way back to the hotel. We passed by the ruins of a few old temples along the way, but nothing that really captured our imaginations or prepared us for the surprises that were coming. The bikes weren't in the best condition, and it was a little uncomfortable to ride them for very long, but we eventually made it back to our hotel.

Later, when considering our evening plans, we realized that had eaten so much at lunch so late in the day that we weren't really hungry, but we made plans to go out anyway to see, at least, a little bit more of Bagan. We decided that we would try The Moon, a vegetarian spot that had printed "Be Kind to Animals" on the sign for the restaurant which had become so iconic that all the other restaurants and shops in the same area copied them by adding the same expression in the exact same style to their own signs. Otherwise, without street lamps, the road to the restaurant was almost completely dark and we arrived at what appeared to be a wide dirt field--we could see that it would't be easy to get around at night. We ate (Angela tried the pineapple and coconut curry, but there was not much else to write home about even though I am, essentially, doing that) and then taxied back to our hotel to sleep, tired, but excited about what the next day would bring.

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