Saturday, February 21: By the time I return from Mount Popa at 2:00, I’m famished. The first thing I do is rent an e-bike from the hotel for 4,000 kyat ($4) for a half-day and head straight to New Bagan to find a place to eat. I happen upon the open-air Black Rose cafe, where I park my e-bike and sit at a table. It’s late for lunch, so I have almost the whole restaurant to myself.
I order Butter Fish Curry and lime juice. The fish curry turns out to be one of the best meals I have in Myanmar, and the lime juice is sour – no sugar.
After lunch I stop in at a small pagoda across from the restaurant, and then I’m on my way to the South Plain, along West Pwasaw.
As I pull up to the first set of pagodas, my e-bike suddenly dies. When an e-bike dies, it’s not like you can suddenly start pedaling it like a bicycle. It becomes dead weight and very heavy. It’s hard to push, especially on a bumpy dirt terrain! Huffing and sweating, I push it into the parking lot of the pagoda.
My Chinese phone doesn’t work here in Myanmar, so I’m not sure what to do. I see a temple keeper walking across a small neighborhood adjacent to the pagoda. I wave that I need help and when he comes over speaking a few words of broken English, I tell him my phone doesn’t work here and make a waving motion over my phone. I point to his phone and ask if I can use it. He miraculously gets all my hand gestures and my English and allows me to use his phone to call the phone number listed on the e-bike. I explain to the folks on the other end that my battery power on the e-bike is dead and then I hand the phone to the temple keeper to describe my location. It’s all very complicated!! But the man tells me that someone will be here soon.
Meanwhile, I walk around to explore these nameless pagodas.
Finally, someone from the hotel shows up with a new battery. After trying to start the bike with the old battery, he finds that the battery has simply been unplugged somehow. After he plugs it back it, voila! The e-bike roars to a start. I feel pretty embarrassed that it was something as simple as that, something I could have fixed myself if I were at all technically inclined. 🙂
By 4:00, I hop back on the e-bike and head down the road to a temple I had passed along the way. I don’t want to get too far away from New Bagan as it will be dark before long.
It’s so dry and dusty in Bagan. I don’t know how people eke out a living on this land. It was a lot greener in the area around Mount Popa, where I was earlier today. My cough is getting increasingly worse riding in the open air, dust flying into my mouth and nose!!
I climb up to the terrace of the pagoda shown below, where I have some great views of the South Plain.
I figure I don’t have enough time to stay for sunset, so I take off again, this time making a 4:30 stop at Dhammayazika Paya, which is under renovation and covered in gold mesh panels.
This temple sits in lush garden grounds and dates to 1196. It’s supposedly haunted by a general who supervised the construction and died before its completion.
Finally, I head back to the Sunset Garden Restaurant in New Bagan for an early dinner. It’s now 5:00 and I’m ready to have a large Mandalay beer and settle in to watch the sunset, due to occur around 6:00.
I enjoy my beer and sunset views over the Ayeyarwady River, and then I order dinner: chicken in garlic and butter with rice for around 11,000 kyat. The chicken has bones and is very dry, so it isn’t a very satisfying dinner. The beer is the highlight!
Finally, the sun begins its slow descent and I watch, mesmerized, as it paints the sky in golden and coral hues. I love watching the fishermen plying the river with the sun setting behind them.
By the time I am driving my e-bike back to the hotel, it’s dark. I pass a couple who see me riding along with no lights. They show me how to turn on my lights so I don’t get run over on my way back! I can be such a dunce with technology!!
When I get back to the hotel, I treat myself to a full body oil massage at the spa for 25,000 kyat. It’s a wonderful treat for my sore body!
I still have a bad cough and now I seem to have lost my voice! Tomorrow at the crack of dawn, I’m heading to Inle Lake. 🙂