Bagan to Mandalay

We woke at 0440 in order to climb a temple and watch the sun rise, we had a scooter rented and drove into the main area of temples just outside of Old Bagan to a temple we knew we could climb up. We had just made it to the top when a member of the Tourist Police (a genuine thing) told us to climb down, we weren’t really sure why we weren’t allowed up there but bureaucracy won and we went to a smaller pagoda nearby which gave us an elevation of a couple of metres over the plain from where we were joined by a dozen people before the sun had fully risen. It made us realise how lucky we had been the day before at sunset that we had managed to find such a secluded temple.

We returned to our hotel for breakfast before catching a bus to Mandalay at 0830. We were taken in a very hot bus to the main terminal where we transferred vehicles into an only slightly cooler bus which took us the five-hour journey. Once in Mandalay we were then dropped to the door of our hotel, a novel experience and one which saved us a tuk tuk fare.

Wanting to make the most of the remainder of day we checked into our hotel, enquired about renting a motorbike and went in search of a shop six blocks away. When we arrived the owner only had an old 50cc, three gear, bike however with no other options we took it and drove away. We had 40km to ride to some waterfalls, which we had read about online so wound our way out of the city and onto one of the major roads away from Mandalay, we then turned off this trunk road onto a rural one which snaked alongside the Myitnge River and through small villages. After some 20km of insane riding we turned off onto a dirt track which led slightly uphill to a small carpark. Here we bought some much-needed refreshments in preparation for our trek uphill to the fabled Dee Doke Waterfalls.

The walk to the waterfalls and pool was virtually all uphill, we were slightly weary after the ride so we were very tired after 20 minutes uphill trekking however the effort was definitely worth it as when we reached the end we found that we were the only two people there and had the vibrant blue pool and waterfall to ourselves. We stayed until just before sunset and then made our way down with the last light of the day. The ride back was enjoyable until the sun disappeared when it was a huge strain on my eyes, partially because the amount of dust thrown up into them and partly because other road users often didn’t have headlights and if they did they used full-beam constantly. I was much relieved to get back to Mandalay and very much in need of a shower and a large meal. For dinner we found a nearby BBQ restaurant and had a couple of beers, fried rice, some perfectly cooked prawns, asparagus and a large fish, caught that day in the river all for £7, one of the tastiest meals we’ve ever had.

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