There is nothing that really prepares you for Bagan.
There are 3,000 temples sitting in open fields; all scattered around a huge area with several dominant gold temples mixed in between. The flight from Rangoonwas very early and the day was beautifully clear.
As we came close to Bagan, the first thing I noticed were the hot air balloons. Fantastic colors quietly sailing like huge ships in the sky. There must have been 10 of them, and as the plane was a bit of a rickety old thing, it’s relative slowness enabled us all to watch this beautiful sight unfold.
Below the balloons, the temples appeared through the early morning mist that coats the fields. It was a fabulous sight. Temples and temples everywhere in the early morning sun. The ballooning takes place courtesy of a collaboration between the Burma government and an American entrepreneur and ballooning enthusiast. It is expensive at $250 per person, but you need to book ahead to get this reservation. It’s worth every penny.
The hotel was delightful and sits next to the Ayeyarwady River. The views from the 11th century Shwesandaw temple were stunning. The climb up to the top reminded me of Chichen Itza when you could actually climb it! Easy up, tough to come down. But because it is a temple, no shoes are allowed. Thank goodness I had brought with me a pair of clapped out Nike sneakers that I never have to lace or unlace. Easy on, easy off.
I have seen more Buddhas than I care to mention, but every day is simply staggering with views and relics and temples and frescoes. Today I never imagined that yesterday could be topped. Bagan is pretty “out there.”
Bikes are popular here. It’s a great way to get around to the temples. The river offers sunset cruises and if you fancy a long journey, it takes 11 hours to Mandalay! I think the highly unreliable train takes longer. Bikes and balloons and long boats. Not a bad day.
From Venice to Bagan, make sure to follow all of Peter’s educational travel adventures around the globe.