I’ve been up for 17 hours today, and it’s only 8:30. One day in Bagan has felt like a week. First, we woke up at 4:30 am in order to catch the famed sunrise perched above one of thousands of pagodas. We met Mr. Cho, an E-bike renter, in our hotel at 5 to get our E-bikes for the day. Then off we went down a dark dusty road equipped with flashlights and some other essentials into this area that seemed too perfect to be real. It was about 5:30 when we finally got to our sunrise spot. No one else was anywhere to be seen, and all you could hear was the sound of a rooster’s call. The first temple we checked out was supposed to offer a good view so we walked around the property for a bit with our torches but every gate was locked. A farmer nearby saw us and asked if we wanted in. He wandered over, stepping over his sleeping dogs and chickens with the keys and opened up the iron gates. Looking up, we saw a massive statue of Buddha in the center of the temple. Off to the left was small passageway leading up to the rooftop. We crouched in and climbed these steep steps up to a flat roof. Things looked alright but we knew we could do better. So we left and crossed the dusty road to another set of pagodas that we saw the day before. We climbed up the outer steps, almost rock climbing, it was so steep. On top, we navigated around the center spire on a narrow ledge to a nice spot facing east and prepped for the sun. We snapped photos and played with the camera settings while we waited.
Now, the sunrise at Bagan is one of the things to do. We could see tripods set up on nearby temples and hundreds of people ask around on temple rooftops ready to catch this spectacular view. Then, about 10 minutes before the perfect time – the camera died and we didn’t have the battery pack! There was brief panic as our phones wouldn’t do this justice at all. Luckily I was able to rig up something that charged the camera from our phones and we were back in business! The sunrise was one of those things that was so perfect you had to wonder if it could be real. One of those rare moments where you couldn’t quite believe your eyes, something that looked exactly out of a postcard. Let me frame it. A dusty Savannah covered in lush green trees. A thin mist laying low over the ground. Hundreds of ancient pagodas peeking through the trees and disappearing into the mist. In the distance, rugged mountains complete the valley. And behind those, the sun begins to rise and shed its warm orange light onto this landscape below. Words might not quite do it justice so here are the goods.
And after all this, it was 7:30 am.
Here are some bonus pics from our previous day and sunset