July 23, 2012
Our second horse cart ride in Bagan was much better than the previous horse cart ride. We hired Minthu as our driver, based upon a recommendation from a friend. He went with us to many of the temples and explained the history. He also answered our questions about monks and the monastery as we were riding. If you visit Bagan, we recommend hiring Minthu as your horse cart driver (Horse Cart No. 54).
Our first stop was Bu-Leh-Thi Pagoda, which we climbed up to get a view of the stupas and temples of Bagan. There are so many!
Next we made a photo stop at Tha-Beik-Hmauk and Sulamani Temple.
Minthu showed George all the spots and angles from which to take photos. At first it felt like a little too much. But he was okay with us taking our time to get the photos right. Later, once he found out George was a photographer he got even more into it, since he is also interested in photography. He tailored the rest of our tour towards taking photos.
Next we visited the Shin-Phyu-Shin Monastery Complex and saw 17th or 18th century mural paintings inside one of the small temples.
Then we headed to Pya-tha-da Temple, which we climbed up to get a panoramic view.
Lunch at Star Beans Restaurant
George and I had a wonderful lunch at Star Beans, which is ranked as the #1 restaurant in Old Bagan on Trip Advisor. Star Beans was like a European oasis in Myanmar. The chef talked with us almost the whole time we were dining.
They even make their own baguette style bread rolls. Bread! Oh how I miss real bread! Not the white sliced bread the hotels feed us with the included breakfast. The fish that George ordered was delicious. I ordered a Parisian sandwich. I have been missing familiar food more here, since Myanmar style food is not great. We ordered the Chocolate Fondant for dessert, which was more of a chocolate souffle. It was a bit of a splurge at Kyat 2,500, but I think we got the better end of the deal. They had to turn on the generator and re-heat the electric oven to bake it. We could hear them whisking the caramel sauce in the kitchen. Some of the desserts are only available in high season, since it is not worth it to have them on hand during low season, but luckily they made our dessert fresh for us. The delicious and peaceful meal came out to about Kyat 13,200 (about USD $15).
More Sightseeing in Old Bagan
After a scrumptious lunch at Star Beans Restaurant, we headed out for more sightseeing. First up was Ananda Temple, which was the most impressive of the temples in Bagan. Inside Ananda Temple there are four standing Budhha images, one facing each direction, N, S, E, and W. The original Buddha images have a fascinating design. If you stand far away, it looks like Buddha is smiling at you, but once you approach the image, his expression changes to a frown.
After Ananda, there were just a few more photo stops.
Time to call it a day and head back to our hotel!
If you would like to hire Minthu as your horse cart driver in Old Bagan, you can contact him at email@example.com or by phone at 09-43149273.