Birthday in Bagan

It’s official. I’m old. With the passing of my thirty fourth birthday, I have the looming spectre of hitting thirty five, and no longer being able to classify myself as “early thirties”.

Still, you know, this getting old lark isn’t all bad. This year, for example, I celebrated my birthday (many thanks for all the kind wishes via facebook by the way – will get round to replying to you all, honest guv’nor) in Bagan, the famed “Plain of the Thousand Temples” in northern Myanmar. (No, I didn’t count them, but yes there were certainly lots of temples; must have been at least a few hundred even if the thousands bit is maybe on the optimistic side.)

And rather nice it was too. The temples at Bagan are old and beautiful, but quite different from a number of the other temples we’ve seen en-route (of which there have been a few!!), mainly due to the sheer number of them. There’s just too many to even try to look around in any detail, and in any event, to do so would sort of miss the point – the spectacle here is in the multitudes of vaguely gothicky styled temples fading away over the plains, particularly spectacular in the soft light of early mornings and late afternoons. The guidebook even tells you not to bother sightseeing in the main part of the day, when it’s just too hot to keep one’s sense of humour. Plus which, we had splurged and booked ourselves onto a sunrise balloon ride over the temples (we’ll post separately on this but it was AWESOME!!), so we knew that we’d get to see the vast majority of the temples, if only from the air.

Result? The perfect excuse for a perfect day. Get up, leisurely breakfast, then spend a couple of hours strolling round some of the closer temples to our (extremely nice – yep, this is where the flashpacking hit) hotel. We actually really enjoyed being able to go into a few of the temples (which often have fairly spectacular murals inside, or amazing Buddha statues) and get a sense as to what they’re all about, but after a few hours we were ready to retire poolside. A happy few hours drinking cocktails, then my relaxation was rudely interrupted by the need to pootle off to get a lovely massage. Add a horse and cart trip to see the sunset from the roof of one of the temples and a lovely dinner in the hotel, and you’ve got the makings of a really not half bad day. If only I’d been able to teleport a few dozen friends and family to join us in the festivities, it would have been absolutely perfect!

I’ve no idea where we’ll be this time next year, which is a little scary but rather exciting too. Still, something tells me that I’ll probably be celebrating the next birthday somewhere rather closer to home!