Nagoya is not only a good location for day trips to surrounding areas, but a cool town that has a lot to offer. We were able to hire bikes from a drugstore near Nagoya station (just ask at the wonderful info desk inside the railway terminal for details – around $6 for a day’s hire, no bond) which was a great way to see more of the city. By bike we checked out Nagoya Castle, Central Park, Tsurumai Koen Park, the amazing covered shopping streets of Osu, the park behind the Science Museum (Shirakawa) and then back to near Nagoya station to return the bikes and find somewhere for dinner.
We stayed at the Smart Hotel, which was a great location – close to the palace and a moderate bike ride away from the World’s Biggest Book and Mandalay Hill. And good food also within easy walking distance. We rode step through rattlers provided free from the hotel every day – it was a wonderful way to experience the city. Compared to the other locations in Myanmar where we stayed, Mandalay (0r at least this part) seemed very house proud – no rubbish in the streets, and people regularly sweeping and watering their patch to keep it clean and not so dusty.
Apparently there are over 2,000 monuments in Bagan, in various states of repair/disrepair. Earthquakes have caused major damage, the most recent in August 2016. Some temples were closed due to the latest shakeup.
There are plenty of ‘must see’ monument lists but the two places I most enjoyed were not described in anything we read – it was more happy accident. Get your own transport, bring your headlamp and go for it. We travelled by mountain bike (A$4 per bike per day), small e-scooter ($10 from the hotel, but on the street $7) and large e-scooter ($10 on the street – and the most comfortable ride for this passenger). Taxis offer tours, but can’t get to many of the more interesting places – or you could also try horse and cart. Many of the roads are narrow, bumpy and sandy. You can’t hire motorbikes and we heard it was because foreigners were having too many accidents.
Favourite spot no.1 was the Wi-ni-do Group. We were looking at the stupas behind the main temple when a guy came out of a nearby dwelling and asked us if we wanted to look in the main building. Turns out he was the key holder, and gave us (and some other passing tourists) a look inside. It was remarkable – the interior paintings were extremely well preserved – and strictly no photographs allowed.
The second was building no. 1401. The staircase was unlocked and we climbed up onto the top for fantastic afternoon views of the area. No one else was around.
Due to a shaky Internet there has been no blogging of late – but hopefully now service has resumed. Back in Nyaungu Shwe we hired bikes – on the first day, some old rattlers which were fine for getting around town for the total princely sum of around A$2 for both. Our second day had us checking out something built for a longer journey. For around $15 from MMK we hired 2 mountain bikes, 2 helmets, a lock, 2 bottles of water, a map showing various routes and some advice on the best one ( a round trip including a boating section).