I expected to love Bagan. But I did not expect to fall head over heels in love. Our hotel was far from where Old Bagan is so I had to settle with biking near our place. I guess if I were alone, I have biked all day long. I would not care if it was sunny, humid, hot or dusty. I just know I needed to pedal on those deserted roads and admire the lonely pagodas on my own. I did not have a map with me when I went off one afternoon towards the direction of the lovely pagoda I had glimpsed earlier. Its golden stuppa was a shimmering gold against the fading afternoon sun. I mentally calculated how many minutes it was from our hotel. I guessed it was a good 15-minute ride.
After being honked on by cars passing by, I guided my slim bike at the other side of the road and found a bare fork. A tourist map was erected at the corner with arrows pointing to several pagodas I could explore. I already know which way to go to when a kind gentleman approached me. I already noticed him and another more sitting in the make-shift shade. I was guessing they were local law enforcement or something like that.
He asked me where I wanted to go and I pointed to the name of the pagoda on the map. After telling me which way to proceed, he looked at me and kindly asked, ‘Only one?’ I said a curt yes, smiled and said my thanks. The sun was already low on the horizon and I did not want to bike without lights. It would be suicide.