Highlights of Mandalay and Bagan - 5 Days - Dec 7 - Dec 11, 2017
What an amazing experience! My local specialist Anne was incredibly considerate, intuitive and very detail oriented. She helped me plan the trip to Mandalay and Bagan down to the last detail including guided and unguided portions per my request (for the latter she offered several suggestions on things I could do based on my interest level). She tailored my days to balance my interest in seeing a lot with my desire to do it all within a certain budget. She was very patient in back and forth emails, and even intuited from an email that I would not be as comfortable doing an all day motorcycle trip, and suggested a little more expense may be worth the mix of using a motorcycle and car - and she was absolutely right! She stayed on top of everything throughout the trip - I could always reach her, she always confirmed guides/itinerary beforehand, answered all my questions and even took the time to invite me out for drinks!
The guides she picked for both cities were also great! In Mandalay, Wine Wine was very attentive to my safety and comfort, while making sure I didn't miss any key attractions at each stop. We got an earlier than normal start and had some extra time, and he was great at improvising the agenda and coming up with new sights he thought I would enjoy. After I arrived in Bagan, I had the first day to explore on my own and that was lovely - I basically followed a suggested self-guided itinerary Anne had provided - including restaurant suggestions based on my dietary preferences and sunset cruise locations etc. The second day I had the pleasure of touring around with Arkar - he was AMAZING! Very knowledgeable and tailored the tour to my interests - he took me to is local breakfast place after I opted out of the hotel breakfast in lieu of spending more time e-biking around! We also skipped a couple markets as I had seen a few in Mandalay and was more interested and excited by the sight of pagodas! I took several side roads on a whim and he gladly followed me and provided history and insights - of course, he took me to some amazing hidden gems I could have never found on my own or with a big tour group.
Overall, I fell in love with Bagan. You think after two days I'd be tired of pagodas, but I was not. I was giddy at every side road that led into them - just to see myself in a sea of pagodas with different architecture and designs. The local people are incredibly nice and thoughtful - and the food is great! On the day I was self-touring in Bagan, e.g., there were several times I had stopped next to a pagoda and was looking at google maps on my phone, and each time a local stopped to ask me if I needed help!
Thank you for such a memorable trip!