Bagan - Day One

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Things began badly, I had contacted a highly recommended guide and booked him for three days, months in advance. He confirmed at the time but hadn't emailed me back once we'd arrived in Burma. Finally we tracked him down (by phone) through a taxi driver only to be told, sorry I've taken another group for the next few days. I was  disappointed and cross, ok I was fuming mad, but it turned out to be a godsend. Seeing the temples alone and at our own pace was central to our enjoyment and what D. had wanted to do from the beginning! 

Bagan is magnificent, a temple wonderland. We had three full days  and we were mesmerized from the first moment. Much of the advice we had received was useful particularly to take our time and to make sure to see some of the more out of the way temples. When I was planning the trip I presumed we'd stay in one of the recommended small hotels in Old Bagan, like the Blue Bird but unfortunately they were fully booked and we ended up at the Amazing Bagan a resort style pile towards the airport. It wouldn't have been my first choice but we had a great time. Given the noise and dust in town we were very happy to be further out. 
As you can see the temples can be found out among the fields.
Best of all the hotel had free bicycles and on our first day we headed out  under our own steam. This may not sound like much for those of you who are well acquainted with the bicycle, but lets just say it had been a few years since I had last stepped on a steed with two wheels! We had such fun and our first impressions of Bagan were of small temples in the countryside with no visitors, this was an ideal beginning. Yes, I am looking supremely dorky but  remember I was very proud to have made it to this picturesque little temple by bike, incidentally it was very hot and I discovered it's hard to bike through sand!
The pictures speak for themselves.
There was so much variety in the interiors too, many of which included statues and frescoes. It's well worth bringing a small torch.
I loved seeing the stupas rising from the scrub land.
 After all the heat and dust it was a pleasure to come back to this!
Tip: I cannot recommend the Approach Guide's Temples of Bagan highly enough. We've used several of their guides previously (Cast Iron Architecture in NY and a Guide to the Romanesque Architecture of Puglia) so our expectations were high but the guide helped us make sense of the architectural development and the history of the various sites. It also helped us decided where to put our emphasis and what to prioritize. I highly recommend you check it out. Currently it's in an ebook format but it would be great if it were developed into an app.