So it's the next day and here we are stood on the tarmac looking at a twin engine turbo prop. So in Myanmar when a girl says yes she probably means no.
As it happens I'm rather a fan of turbo props. They are the Ducati of aircraft with an engine sound that is divine. Once on board we settle into leather seats and read in the in flight magazine that the fleet has been completely re-furbished inside and out. We were flying Mandalay Air. They aren't the cheapest but they are the only airline in Myanmar currently with an EASA (European Air Safety Standards) certificate so they can fly outside the country.
We have a very pleasant flight to Bagan. At the airport we noticed bank counters exchanging money. Street traders will give you around 870 kyat to the dollar, and the bank 840. So it's not such a good rate but the money is all counted by a machine and you get a receipt and you get all the money. No table top magicians here, so we changed some.
The airport is quaint and there is no baggage carousel. I gave our luggage receipt to a chap and he went and got it off the tarmac for us. We were soon in a taxi and headed for our hotel. We had managed to book this through Agoda which is unusual. That meant we could pay by credit card and preserve some of our valuable dollars.
Since 2010 and the semi democracy state tourist numbers have increased and with them the prices. Hotels can now cost several hundred dollars a night. Ours was $35. It's basic but has a good shower a big bedroom and air con. Noisy air con but you can't have everything. It's also well located.
Bagan is really a dustbowl place. It's split into three parts. Old Bagan, New Bagan and Nyaung U. I couldn't see an obvious join. The reason for coming here are the temples. Myanmar is pretty much flat. This area has three plains, Northern, Central and Southern. They are covered in temples. Thousands of them. 4000 to be precise.They range from small 30ft solid ones to huge ornate ones which you can enter or climb up.
The two main ways to view them are by horse and cart or on a bicycle. We opted for the later. The roads are pretty quiet and as you ride around there are temples everywhere. I have no idea why so many. Their locations appear random. We eventually found a large temple with steps up the outside. Just one other tourist there and a fruit seller. We climbed up it, burning our feet as we went, and marvelled at the view. The plain is covered in trees and vegetation and stretched for miles to some hills. All across it were temples like pieces on a chess board. It really is an amazing sight. Individually they are nothing. Some are derelict but when viewed collectively they are quite something.
We decided not to fly to our next stop. We asked the hotel receptionist to book our passage out. She said she would do that and told us the price. I handed her a pristine straight off the press $100 note. 'No change, you come back tomorrow' she said. The next day we tried again. This time I gave her some $20 notes to help with the change. 'Notes too old, I can't take them' she said. Grrrrrrr. I tried the $100 note again. 'Good' she said, 'but no change, you come back later'. Grrrrr again. 'Forget it' I said, 'we'll use the agent down the road'. 'Same price' she says. 'I know, but at least he has change and tickets' I retorted. 'Oh look, I've found change' she says.
We've had three days here. It's been very hot and humid with some heavy rain storms. Fortunately there are no shortage of bars for a cold Tiger beer. Tomorrow we are taking the boat from here to Mandalay. Maybe we will see some flying fishes. Now you're showing your age.