Mount Popa and Bagan Sightseeing

We began our day by breakfast at Black Rose restaurant, the same place that we had our dinner the night before. The breakfast was complimentary from our hotel. Despite bad experience the night before. the breakfast serving was considered prompt, perhaps because we were the only group there. The breakfast portion was not bad.

After breakfast, at 9am, our driver was ready at the hotel reception. And we set off to Mount Popa. The whole journey takes probably around 1 hour or more. Our nice guide brought us to some small temple for toilet break where we snapped some photos of Mount Popa monastery from far.

View of Mount Popa Monastery from the location of our toilet break

One things to note is: Mount Popa is actually a volcano of 1500 metre high, while the famous monastery is actually located at a smaller hill just beside Mount Popa. This smaller hill is called Taung Kalat. However, people usually refer it as Mount Popa Monastery.

Once we arrive at the bottom of the monastery, our driver dropped us and we made our way to the summit through the stairways. However, though I didn’t count the steps that I took, I did not feel that I climbed 700 steps of stairs, it only felt like 300 steps. But it was a tiring, yet truly rewarding climb. From the monastery, we can see the great Mount Popa.

Keep your belongings tight and don’t hold any food!
The view during staircase ascent
Another angle of view from Mount Popa Monastery
The roofs over staircases to the Mount Popa Monastery
At Mount Popa Monastery
Cute cats embracing each other
View of the Great Mount Popa from Mount Popa Monastery
View from top of Mount Popa Monastery, can’t get tired of this!

After spending few hours enjoying the breeze at the Mount Popa monastery, we descend down the stairways again towards our rented van. Our driver recommended us to have lunch at Yangon Restaurant, however since I saw that Popa Mountain Resort Restaurant is in the list of tripadvisor, I requested the driver to bring us there instead.

The price of the food at Popa Mountain Resort Restaurant was a bit steep because it was a resort! However the Indonesian fried rice was not that expensive, thus we went for it. Also, the resort has a mountain view point where we can see Mt Popa Monastery and the surrounding.

View of Monastery from Popa Mountain Resort Restaurant

It was another over 1 hour journey back to Bagan. In the middle of the journey, the driver brought us to a small market. Once we reached Bagan, we went for more temple sightseeings. such as Phaya Thon Zu Phaya, Tham Bula Phaya, Lay, Myet, Hnar Complex.

Market
In Bagan
Tham Bula Phaya in Bagan
Dog’s attention
In Bagan

And eventually we settled ourselves at Pyathada Paya for sunset.

Getting ready for sunset at Pyathada Paya
Shooting of little kid
Candid shoot of whom I suspect as locals
At the top of Pyathada Paya
Sunset at Pyathada Paya
Sunset at Pyathada Paya
Sunset at Pyathada Paya
Sunset at Pyathada Paya
Sunset at Pyathada Paya

After sunset, we went to Weather Spoon’s for dinner. The serving time took 1 hour too! In my opinion, I do not find the food as very good, considering they are at the top of tripadvisor list.

After dinner, we went to bus station. At about 9.30pm we boarded overnight bus which will take us to Mandalay.

Date visited: 23 October 2014

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Bagan: Temples and Sunset

The bus journey took almost 10 hours. We arrived at Bagan bus station almost 6am. Our driver was ready with a paper of my name. He was a nice guy, very friendly, very polite, very warm, and spoke little English. We requested him to bring us to a place where we can go to toilet, he drove us to a guesthouse and let us use the toilet for free. My friend even took shower there lol. From guest house, we officially started our Bagan sightseeing journey. We were told to pay USD 15 as entrance fee to visit Bagan and Mount Popa, the ticket is valid for 5 days.

Our first stop of temple was Shwezigon Pagoda, it was a mini-sized Shwedagon pagoda. Since it was early in the morning, the temple was very quiet and the weather was not too hot yet. It was the best time to visit a pagoda. After Shwezigon, we visitied Htilominlo Pagoda. It was a brickstone temple with detailed carvings.

Shwezigon Pagoda, a mini-sized version of Shwedagon 
Details of Htilominlo
Bird feeding at Htilominlo
Htilominlo

After 2 temples, our stomach yearned for food. Our driver drove us to The Moon Vegetarian Restaurant which is quite near to our previous temple. However they only serve western style breakfast. As Asian people, we wish to have a heavy meal for breakfast. Thus we checked the opposite Yar Pyi Restaurant and found out that they serve everything in their menu for all day. So we settled ourselves and enjoyed our nice breakfast. The price was not expensive at all. And the owner was very friendly and helpful, she pushed the big whiteboard of recommended menu to face us, so that we can make decision easily. I highly recommend this restaurant.

Menu of Yar Pyi Restaurant
My breakfast at Yar Pyi Restaurant

Moving on, we visited Ananda temple which was just a few seconds drive away from restaurant. Ananda is quite a big temple on a big compound. The interesting thing about Ananda Temple is, about half of the facade is old, and the other half is brand new. If I take a photo of each old and new facade separately, you won’t be able to tell the difference. I can’t say that they are doing renovation / repainting, because I didn’t see any workers doing any work, neither did I see any scaffolding. Hence, I’ll just appreciate this interesting combination.

The old-feeling facade of Ananda Temple
The new-feeling facade of Ananda Temple

Next, we visited 5 more pagodas in a flash: Thatbyinnyu. Shwe Gu Gyi, Buphaya, Gawdaw Palin, Gu Byauk Gyi, It was an accomplishment to have visited 8 pagodas before lunch time.

Thatbyinnyu Pagoda
View from Shwe Gu Gyi Pagoda
Another view from Shwe Gu Gyi Pagoda
Buphaya Pagoda by the river
River near Buphaya Pagoda
Boats at river near Buphaya
Traditional dolls

Our lunch was a buffet myanmar food which cost us 3500 kyat per person, excluding drinks. I absolutely have no recollection of the restaurant name as I was too tired and hungry. It looked similar to Golden Myanmar Restaurant though.

Buffet Myanmar food for lunch

After feeling fully recharged, we continued our ambitious quest of visiting most of the temples in Bagan. We visited Sulamani, Dhamma Yangyi, Manuha (restoration in progress), nearby Nam, Abeyadana, Lawkahteikpan, and finally Shwe San Daw for sunset.

Sulamani Temple
Painting inside Sulamani
Totally can’t recall the name of this pagoda
View from Shwe San Daw Pagoda
Sunset at Shwe San Daw Pagoda
Sunset at Shwe San Daw Pagoda

After sunset, we finally checked into our hotel at Thiri Sandar Hotel at New Bagan. The renovation / construction was going on at the time of our visit. We had our dinner at nearby Black Rose Restaurant. The time taken by restaurant to serve our dish was about 1 hour, which is terrible considering how hungry we were. After 1 round of complaint, our dinner came in 10 minutes. After dinner, we called it a day.

Date visited: 22 October 2014