BAGAN (+briefly on budget)

Just as you think you've survived the worst of possible bus ride scenarios (I mean, by now we had covered the emergency diarrhea, the tyre-exploding in the middle of nowhere, the 26hrs full volume non-stop Lao karaoke and the top bunk in a Vietnamese over night bus) This one, from Yangon to Bagan, takes the prize.


I had actually read that the AC is sometimes an issue on the Burmese buses, but packing two double layered sweaters in the hand luggage seemed like over-doing it. I mean, we are in South East Asia after all. So I figured one sweater would do. Silly me. (At least that's better than a certain Finnish lady who entered the bus wearing a thin dress and a cardigan.)

So the bus starts rolling and quite immediately we realize that Oh dear, we should have brought more clothes. When the AC goes on, I don't think I have ever been so cold in my life. I mean, -30 in the Swedish winter seems humble in comparison to this. Sitting straight under the fan. The full speed fan. That is non-stoppable despite the "push the curtain inside it"-trick à la middle school bus trips. At the mid-way stop I manage to, via charades, ask the bus driver whether we can have "some things" (oh, you know, just half our packing) from our bags. Luckily, we can and we also have some warming Mohinga and comforting cigarettes at the roadside restaurant.


When we arrive in Bagan it's still pitch dark. We await dawn whilst having hot chocolate at the bus station. A local strikes up conversation and is later on kind enough to offer us a lift to our guesthouse. (This time we have used a landline phone to book in advance. Not making the same mistake as in Yangon!)  Our room is yet not ready for check-in, so as the morning sun approaches, we climb up one of the many temple sites and watch hot air balloons lift from the ground with a bunch of strangers.


The days to follow we spend pedaling around on those sand covered roads on our no gear bikes (quite the work out I tell you!). It struck me how familiar it was. Or was, rather how familiar it smelt. It smelt just like a late summer's night in Sweden. Come to think of it, this was probably the freshest air we had been breathing for months.


Time was short when we were in Myanmar. Unfortunately. As we had read online before going the prices weren't really within the means of our budget, especially not after we both had decided to go to Australia on a Working Holiday. So we had a total of 12 days in the country, covering The Big 4 of the tourist essentials (Bagan, Yangon, Mandalay and Inle Lake.)

To clarify: In terms of accommodation; yes, Myanmar is a lot more expensive than your average SEA backpacker accommodation. However, I feel it evened out in terms of food and transportation prices. On average we spent about 15'000 kyat a day, and that includes all food, drinks, buses, bike rentals and the occasional (ok, quite a bit of) beer and cigarettes. 15'000 kyat is about 12 euros and you could definitely do it a lot cheaper than that.