From Yangon we took a nightbus for the 10 hour journey to Bagan in central Myanmar. As much of the south and centre of the country is pretty flat we felt we wouldn't miss much and would save a night's accommodation cost (no small thing here as the rates for foreigners are high).
Bagan more than lived up to our expectations. It's a former capital from the 12th century. Although all the wooden houses have long since disappeared, many of the hundreds of brick temples and stupas have survived and are strewn across a wide plain. We spent 3 days cycling around them stopping to eat and drink in between times. Unfortunately after that Fran's back went into a spasm. Thankfully we had already booked to take a 12-hour boat trip up the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay - better than sitting for another 10 hours on a bus! Consequently we didn't venture far for a couple of days in Mandalay. The subsequent 2 hour bus trip further east to the former colonial hill station, Pyin Oo Lwin, didn't improve things. But the guesthouse owner there was lovely and insisted on a hospital visit which resulted in a drug cocktail which after a further 4 days of rest eased things.
From here we decided to fly down to the beautiful Inle Lake south east of Mandalay. It wasn't entirely smooth as we almost ended up flying to Yangon. We only realised the mistake at check in and had to retrace our steps 50kms to Mandalay and try again the following day.
At the lake we met up with a couple of British women and did two day trips to local monasteries and tribal villages. We also took a long-boat out on the lake to see the fishermen as well as various cottage industries. The fishermen have a unique way of propelling their boats using a paddle and their leg. As Fran's back is still recovering we didn't do any of the planned trekking. Happily her back managed to cope pretty well with the 6-hour shared taxi journey back to Mandalay in an ancient vehicle. The route took us up and over the mountains through small villages,; all of which was scenically stunning. The road surface was mainly appalling but that didn't deter the driver's speed (although there were only a few times when Fran let out involuntary noises from her front seat position).
Tomorrow we fly back to Bangkok for a couple of days and then head to Sri Lanka for Christmas.