…and it will be quite unlike any land you know about – Rudyard Kipling once wrote. And he was right. After nearly 3 months already in Asia we thought we’d seen it all. A quick flight from Bangkok and our romantic hopes of Kipling’s Mandalay were all but dashed – it was dirty, it was manic and it felt slightly menacing.
Luckily we were only here for one night before heading to Bagan, so we dived straight in to the local food. Our hotel suggested a traditional restaurant round the corner called Aye Mit Tar. A friendly guy welcomed us in from the street and presented us with a menu with no prices. As usual we had no idea what to do and no amount of charades helped, so we just ordered a chicken and a mutton curry. Within minutes they began bringing out all these side dishes, curries, vegetables, salads, sauces, rice and eventually our ordered curries. It was a feast!
Every time a dish ran low they brought out more. One guy sat on the end of the table opposite staring at our rice, just waiting for that moment to refill it. It was all very tasty, but extremely greasy, we hadn’t realised this was a sign of things to come for food in this country. The bill came and it was around £4.50 for all that food, including beer! Not bad going.
The next day we took a 10 hour ferry down the Irrawaddy river to Bagan. We pulled into the boat dock and it was mayhem. It was totally different to anywhere we’d been before, sandy roads and horses and carts alongside hordes of taxi drivers. We took a horse cart to our hotel which was round the corner from “Restaurant Row” a nickname for the street that had a few restaurants to cater for tourists – even a “Weatherspoons!”
Bagan is an ancient city and over 2000 temples and pagodas still stand on its plains. The best way of getting around is to hire electric bikes so you can explore some of the hidden temples that taxis and horse carts can’t get to. This is exactly what we did. While riding through Old Bagan we stumbled across a great vegetarian restaurant called “Be Kind to Animals.” The staff were super friendly and recommended the Spicy Veggie Chapati. It was fantastic, definitely the best veggie food we’ve had the entire trip and some of the tastiest food all together. It had an Indian curry taste to it, with extra chillies and sour cream on top. We also ordered some local Myanmar coffee and green tea which were both very good.
Bagan was amazingly beautiful and the people were so friendly, it had a laid back vibe and with the small, cheap restaurants springing up and stunning temples to explore, we could see it turning into a mini Siem Reap one day. The photos we took just don’t do it justice. We were only sorry we couldn’t stay longer.