Feeling the chilling wind of 4:00 am Bagan I walked gingerly towards the front desk manned by a drowsy staff. I momentarily feared intruding on his quiet time when he suddenly rose from his chair and displayed a wide smile upon noticing my presence. “Welcome to Bagan Lodge do you have a reservation?” he asked me as if it is a normal occurrence for a guest to walk in during such ungodly hours. “Ah yes” then I told him my name. “Oh you are the travel blogger from Philippines” he trails his speech with an animated demeanor. I sighed a big relief learning with finality that they are indeed sponsoring my three nights stay in Bagan.
While he was processing my check-in information two Chinese looking female guests loitered around the lobby giggling and seemingly excited. The lone staff manning the front desk asked them “Why wake up early?” to which the two ladies explained their enthusiasm at the sunrise’ hot air balloon ride.
“You should also try the hot-air balloon” one of the girls told me. “I might” I said to them. As I was handed my key and another sleepy concierge led me to my room-which I later found out was a spacious 50 sq. meter villa that could pass as a honeymoon suite for most resorts, I instantly noticed how the sprawling property of Bagan Lodge stretches afar and encircles well landscaped gardens and walkways.
My abode for the next three nights appears grand on the outside courtesy of its shiny wooden finishing with a veranda on the front door. Inside; two-single bed takes center spot while a generous space reserved for an adjacent living room and working area completes the interior. The bathroom is spread out on the back in a horizontal spread spanning end to end of my villa. The toilet throne is at the left side and the shower on the right while the bathtub lies on the middle part.
Itching to start my day in Bagan early I fought off the desire to sleep and instead waited for sunrise dipped on the bathtub filled with hot water. Enjoying the soothing sensation of relaxing my every muscles, I welcomed the relaxing feeling of enjoying such classy accommodation far removed from the normal places I stay at during my previous solo backpacking trips.
All throughout the four days I spent at Bagan Lodge I existed in a solitary fashion – only talking to the staff when they ask me if I needed anything, or when I would rent a motorbike and the occasional exchanging of pleasantries during breakfast and each-time I walked out of my villa.
The rest of the guests are either retirees or business travelers enjoying company perks – as every breakfast I eavesdropped on talks of business and investments. There were no fellow ‘backpackers’ around. Understandably so since the minimum $250 a night rate would set them aback a month’s worth of travel budget.
Every breakfast I savored my alone time seated at my favorite table by the swimming pool – as the only younger looking Asian guest amidst a throng of retired and moneyed Western guests. I was starting to wonder if anyone would notice me sticking out like a sore thumb when a forty something woman from the next table bellows at me with questions such as “Are you enjoying Bagan?”, “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”
I gleefully answered all her queries by telling her; it is my 2nd time in Bagan, it is among my favorite places and that I am a ‘Travel Writer’ from the Philippines. She seemed pleased with my answers as she ended our brief chat with a smile-though I wondered if it was a cue for my turn to start asking her some questions.
Being a travel writer I earn barely next to peanuts but the perks I get by doing what I love includes staying in a place like Bagan Lodge Resort. A sprawling luxurious and expensive place my wallet would never afford. Grateful to good karma, there I am experiencing a pleasant retreat away from the bustles of hostels and cheap inns.
First opened in 2013 to coincide with the initial influx of travellers flocking to Myanmar. The architecturally-gifted 85 rooms dotting the whole complex are clustered almost a stone throw away from the ancient ruins-packed golden plains of Bagan Archaeological Zone.
As stated by their website; Bagan Lodge was “Conceptualized by noted French designer Brigitte Dumont de Chassart, the interiors and grounds of Bagan Lodge are a melding of traditional Burmese design, colonial-era trappings and contemporary decor. Three classes of accommodation range in size from 50-square-metre deluxe rooms to the 196-square-metre Queen Victoria Suite, which includes four bedrooms, a living room and private garden.”
Bagan Lodge comes with a bevy of facilities which includes a fitness room where I found time to work out a couple of times. Two swimming pools, a spa and the poolside Tiffin Box Restaurant completes the cadre of dining and drinking spots that also includes; a lobby lounge and a pool bar.
Staying there by my lonesome provided me with hints of lonesome feeling as the place is perfect for sharing it with someone; a family member or a girlfriend. Setting my personal longings aside, being there by myself also afforded me with a temporary sanctuary that blended well with the storied history and secluded vibe of Old Bagan.
16 April to 14 October 2016: $ 164
15 October 2016 to 15 April 2017: $ 244
16 April to 14 October 2016: $ 425
15 October 2016 to 15 April 2017: $850
Check out Bagan Lodge Resort’s Website for more information.