A full day in Hanthawaddy, or as it is now called Bago/Pegu was a definite MUST on my plan during my Yangon trip. The old Mon capital dates back to A.D. 573 and is dotted with temples, pagodas and palaces. After negotiating for a few minutes with a taxi driver in Yangon we were on our way in the early morning. Even the price was cheaper than what I had expected so I sat all relaxed in the back of an A/C taxi on the way to Bago passing hundreds of monks and nuns on their morning alms rounds and a never ending stream of cars trying to get into the city.
Once in Bago I was overwhelmed with the beauty and the amount of sites to visit.
i might have stressed out my driver but visiting Bago on a separate trip and not just as a quick stop on the way to the Golden Rock is a once in a lifetime chance to dive into Burmese history. Actually it's Mon history!
My driver didn't speak any English though, so we maneuvered around with my list of stops, my maps and his idea of what a western tourist wants to see. He quickly learned that I was not a "normal" western visitor and he even went into the temples with me to work on his own karma.
I managed to see nearly all the places I had listed and even one place I had tried to avoid, which was the python temple or snake temple, but I could not understand my driver who happily maneuvered our car over a dirt road thinking that he finally had something to show me which was not on my plan. I only understood "good luck" and "many people like" and that I had to just put down some money at a shrine. But I had no idea that the "shrine" contained a 17ft long python! After I fainted and woke up again, we were on our way to load up on more pagodas and beautiful Buddha statues.
Bago was probably the best item on my list of places visited in and around Yangon, but then again, I am a temple enthusiast!