Monday, September 16, 2013

Overnight Bus Ride to Bagan

by Regin Reyno

Going to Burma or Myanmar, most tourists visit the so called Big Four. Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake.

These are the places where beautiful attractions are located. So when I visited Myanmar, I made it a point to visit at least two of these big four.

I landed in Rangoon then planned to go to Bagan as well. The rest, I’ll just leave it for my next visit, as I prefer a slow-paced travel, rather than trying to cramp all places in a short period of time.

After visiting Shwedagon Pagoda-thus ticking it off in my bucket list- and spending a day in Yangon, I planned to go to Bagan and spend most of my days of my solo travel there as I prefer to relax in countryside and not in a big city.

So I asked my guesthouse where can I book a bus going to Bagan, and they pointed me to an agency near my guesthouse.

I opted to take an overnight bus, to save for guesthouse fees and travel time.

TIP 1: If you want save on hotel/hostels fees, take the overnight bus. By doing that, you'll not only save hotel/hostel fees, but your travel time as well. Instead of just sleeping in your hostel/hotel, you are actually moving while sleeping, thus have more time to explore places in your travels during the day instead of spending it on the road.

Upon realizing that the bus fare offered by the agency is quite pricey, I opted to just buy my bus ticket in the terminal.

One of things I love about Myanmar is the kindness of the locals. This is the country where I encountered the friendliest, most kind, most helpful locals in the world. Touts, scammers, robbers are almost non-existent. Yes, it's very safe in Myanmar. 

I asked the locals for instructions and price on how to go to the bus station, and they helped me.

So the next day, I took a taxi form my hostel called Ocean Pearl Inn and went to the bus terminal.

Taxis in Yangon are old, and most are not air-conditioned-but I didn't mind, I wanted to experience how it is to live a a country shut down from the outside world for many years. And riding those taxis is an experience.
Yangon taxi

I arrived in the bus station and paid the taxi driver 2,500 kyat ($2.57).

I bought a ticket in the terminal which costs 15,000 kyat ($15). The locals were right.

I waited for the departure of our bus. While waiting, I noticed that I'm the only foreign passenger there. It's quit unusual because in my travels to mainland Southeast Asia, there were tourists everywhere. This is what makes Myanmar special.
The terminal is also very basic. It's just like our jeepney terminals in rural Philippines.

We departed Yangon at around 5pm. The bus is good. With AC, TV (Burmese TV shows and karaoke songs) and reclining seats. 

TIP 2: Always bring your sarong/blanket, and jacket when taking overnight buses in Southeast Asia.

As we departed former capital Yangon, we were finally cruising in their highway. A very wide highway and can be compared to Germany's autobahn. It is very impressive. The best highway system I have seen in Southeast Asia. 
(So there's also a good side in having a Military Government huh?). Kudos to the junta for this.

The provinces of Myanmar is so quiet. You can hardly see houses along the road. Farms, grassland, mountains are a sight to behold that twilight trip.
A local resting on the road during a stop-over.
Stop-overs was a delight as their places for stop-overs are wonderful restaurants with food vendors all around. It's an opportunity to eat local Burmese food. 

What I noticed in Myanmar is, every mealtime, there is tea served. It's like they can't eat without tea. 

Since I have bread in my bag, and don't want to risk some stomach problems along the way, I just sat in one of the restaurants and observed the people and the food. 

So when the waiter ask me what I want, I just said I wanted tea-in ways that we can understand each other since they don't speak English. 

He offered me a pot of fresh tea along with a tiny Chinese teacup. After enjoying my Burmese tea, I was about to pay when he gestured that I don't need to pay as it is free. Wow! Free tea. Wonderful locals.
Burmese tea
After 11 hours of travel, I finally arrived in Bagan, in a town called Nyang U.

At 4pm Horse carts were waiting for me at Nyaung U bus station offering a ride to the guesthouses and to behold the sunrise in the Thousand Temples of Bagan. 
Horse carts in Nyaung U.
Taxi from Ocean Pearl Inn to Yangon Bus Station: 2,500 kyat ($2.57)
Yangon to Bagan bus fare: 15,000 kyat ($15).