A Bagan Sunrise
January 17, 2017
To describe a Bagan sunrise is no easy task but I will attempt this feat. During my time in Bagan, I actually rose to greet every single sunrise, each a very different experience. Each time featured a different view, a different atmosphere and different people. Simply put, it was incredible.
I arose at a very early hour, to make my way towards one of the famed sunrise spots in Bagan and it was to be my first. I met my dorm roomie at the entrance of the hotel and we literally just had to cross the road to rent our e-bikes, for the day ahead. This is the preferred, most convenient and one of the cheapest modes of transport for the visitors of Bagan. It is only more expensive than bicycles and walking. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Off we rode into the darkness on our little e-bikes, each of their single headlamps illuminating the dark road ahead of us. As we neared our destination, the beginnings of dawn crept upon us and not wanting to miss anything, we increased our speed to the maximum our e-bikes could muster. We breezed along the final stretch of road, full of excitement and anticipation of what we were going to see ahead. Finally, we could make out the sign of the pagoda we were destined for, the Shwe San Daw Paya. This is it, my first taste of temple exploring in Bagan, I couldn’t wait to park my e-bike and scale this magnificent pagoda.
Well…..it turned out I had to wait as my e-bike had decided to die the most untimely of deaths, so close yet too far to abandon my bike. Faaaaaack. Panic. Rage. Luckily, I was immediately able to call the e-bike lender, to replace the battery that had died on me. Due to the fact that we were gaining sunlight slowly but surely, my roomie ventured off alone to catch the sunrise just in case anything was missed. I watched my roomie grow smaller in the distance as I was stuck with my spent e-bike. The seconds felt like hours as I grew impatient waiting for my saviour to arrive. Finally, the repair man showed and much to my chagrin, it turned out that my battery had not died, oh no, it had just become dislodged. It just had to be pressed back into place. Fit for bin I am, fit for the bin.
With my battery securely fastened….oops, I raced towards the mighty Shwe San Daw Paya. I had never seen anything like this in my whole life, it was a colossal, imposing structure with a cold white and grey colouring, which only added to its intimidating presence. After I had completely taken in the huge pagoda, I noticed how crowded it was, people were climbing the stairs on each side, all vying for a prime viewing spot. I proceeded to take off my shoes as is customary in Burma when entering sacred places and began my ascent up the steep steps. The climb itself was mildly taxing but so incredibly cool, it felt so surreal to be climbing such an ancient place to catch the sunrise but here I was and now that I had reached the top it was time to find the perfect spot.
I meandered around the masses of people to try and find a viewing spot to call my own. I eventually settled on a spot in a corner,that would provide a perfect view of the famed balloon sunrise. As I was taking in the view of shadowed temples before me, I was approached by an older English lady who struck up a conversation with me, it turned out that her father came here many moons ago and spoke of Bagan with such reverie, that it inspired her to make the same journey he did all that time ago. It’s incredible the stories you hear from people on their travels and the reasons behind coming to a place. I felt such awe listening to this woman’s story and it humbled me to think that I too would be experiencing such a sight and be able to share my story also. We all continued to wait for the day to grow ever brighter, that’s when I heard people exclaim that there were at last balloons on the horizon. Slowly they ascended into the sky, creating the most incredible sight. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The new modern hot air balloons soaring above a panorama of ancient temples as far as the eye could see. It was the most majestic thing I had ever seen. I took an obscene amount of photos, not wanting to let any moment go undocumented.
This was my first sunrise experience in Bagan and it was out of this world.