Sunrises in Bagan

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[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Sunrises & Balloons in Bagan”][/ultimate_heading]

We reached Bagan at 4AM, after a quite uncomfortable bus ride; the AC had been much too cold and we hadn’t been able to sleep more than 1 or 2 hours… In addition to that, we had to take a super expensive taxi from the bus station into the city and so, by the time we got there, it was already 4:30AM. Still, our plan was not to go lay down, but to go see the sunrise; I mean, if you’re awake anyway, why not benefit from this situation? 😉

Lukas had been texting Jule and so she knew that he and Bianca wanted to join us for sunrise. At 5AM, the bike rental outside of the hostel opened and we got some e-bikes (in Bagan you can only rent e-bikes). Lukas promised that he knew «the best spot» to see the sunrise; many people had recommended spots to see the sunrise and the sunset and Lukas’ spot was not on that list, but whatever. It was quite scary, because we had to turn off the lights of our bikes shortly before we arrived, driving into the pagoda (there were high walls around it), parking in the protection of the walls where nobody would see the bikes, climbing up stairs in the pagoda, climbing over the (closed) gate (there was a space of about 40cm between the gate and the ceiling) and hiding as best possible, so nobody would spot us. Bianca wanted to keep the light on her phone on, so that she could see something and Lukas kept telling her to turn it off and to be quiet; all that was pretty exciting and scary at the same time. It was too much for Thereza and Iver who left shortly after that; they didn’t feel comfortable. We stayed there and believed Lukas who said that nothing could happen to us. There is no police or military going around in the morning to chase tourists who climb up pagodas to see the sunrise, only locals who tell you that you’re not allowed to do this. These people will then offer you to watch the sunrise at their pagoda where it’s allowed – against a fee of course! They will then go to a pagoda that either is not locked or that they have broken into before. It’s all a huge scam, because climbing up pagodas is forbidden by the government and no local is allowed to go up or to let tourists up. The military and tourist police know exactly that tourists do this, but they also know that if they started to give them trouble and chase or – worse – punish them, no tourists would come to Bagan anymore, so they don’t even try this. Besides, it’s not like the tourists destroyed the pagodas or anything, they just climb up, take some pictures and leave again. Our guide the next day told us this as well, so Lukas was right and we did well to stay there, because it really was the most beautiful and absolutely best place to see the sunrise! There was nobody else than the 4 of us, we had an amazing view over the different pagodas around, half hidden in the morning mist, the sunrise and the famous balloons. I must say, this was one of my highlights in Myanmar! ❤️❤️

After the sunrise, we went back to our hostel, had breakfast and a shower, before leaving again. We took our e-bikes and went to old Bagan, where we just cruised around. Lukas and Iver wanted to see the river, but it wasn’t easy to get there; we had to drive through very narrow streets between local houses. It was quite nice to see how the locals live, but it was not always easy to drive there… Bianca had never ridden a bike before and she was a bit nervous there, what I can completely understand; for me it was still a bit difficult even though I had done it before. There were many sandy and muddy streets and Bianca fell a couple of times and we decided to have a lunch break to get new strength and new courage.🙂 We went to this very touristic place Lukas had heard about; the food there (especially the burgers) were really good! Only at the end of lunch I got pretty angry, because I put a 10.000 bill on the table (= +/- 7€) and while I was looking for something else in my purse, the bill suddenly disappeared. I’m pretty sure Thereza took it by accident and paid with it for her lunch, but she said she didn’t. Still, she didn’t really search her bag for it and I was pretty angry; it took my a while to get over it. I know, it’s not a lot of money, but still.

Anyway, after lunch we continued cruising around and discovering pagodas, but Iver guided us only through very narrow lanes, all off-road, even though he knew that it was Bianca’s first day on a bike and I had Jule on the back of mine which made it hard to navigate… After an hour or so, all I really wanted was get back to the main road or to the hostel. Jule wasn’t too happy to continue either and so we were pushing a bit to go back. We decided to only go to one last place with them and after that go back to the hostel, with or without the others. There, we climbed up some of the pagodas to have a nice view over the area and then, on the way back to the scooters, we found a pagoda where only a few people were and from where you could see a very nice sunset, so we decided to stay there. The sunset was very nice, but not as special as the sunrise. Probably it would have been better, had we stayed a bit longer after the sunset (to see more pink and orange colours coming up), but we were tired after such a long day, so we went back to the hostel.

When we came back to the hostel, we found Pascal from Switzerland. We had met him that night at a bus stop and we had a bit of a bad conscience, because we had promised him to wait for him at the bus station in Bagan to share a taxi back to the hostel, but in the end we hadn’t waited; there were so many buses arriving all the time and we had no clue if he had already arrived or when he would arrive, so we had just gone without him… He told us that he had arrived almost an hour after us, so it was good that we hadn’t waited for him. Besides, he had met his friend Boris and his collegue on his arrival at the bus station and had shared a taxi with them, so all good! 🙂

In our room, we met Tom from England who works in the film business and who is a very nice guy. Later we spent the night playing Bingo (organised by the hostel), drinking some beer and talking with Lukas, Bianca, Pascal, Boris and his girlfriend (Iver and Thereza spent the evening in the room because they were tired) and we had a very nice evening. 🙂

The next morning, I wanted to do the free Bagan tour that started at 8AM, so I didn’t go to see the sunrise with Lukas and Bianca, but got up a bit later, had breakfast (alone, because Jule and the others wanted to sleep in) and got ready for the tour. In the free tour, you go around Bagan with scooters, discover the most important pagodas and get to know more about the history of Myanmar and the Buddhist religion. It was super interesting! I learned e.g. that temples are the places you can enter, pagodas are the places that have an entrance but you can’t walk around in them and stupas are the monuments where you can’t enter. I also learned that this historic city with all it’s fantastic pagodas and temples has been built from the 11th till the 13th century. Our guide was fantastic, he explained everything we wanted to know about Myanmar, Buddhism and the government and I was very happy. Also our group was really cool: I met Ellee from Australia, Etty from the UK, Manon from France, Iris from the German speaking minority in Hungary und Campbell from the US. They were super nice and after the tour we continued spending time together.

On our way back to the hostel, our guide dropped us off at a lacquer place – they are very famous here in Bagan – where we learned how they make beautiful pieces of art and furniture out of bamboo. Can you imagine, beautiful wine glasses that don’t break when they fall down!? Why don’t we have that!?😄 It was very interesting and I liked it so much that I even bought a lacquer bracelet.

When we got back to the hostel, I was a bit annoyed with my friends. Jule had told me they went out for a drink, but that they would be back before I came back from the tour at 2PM. However, when I arrived there at 3PM, nobody to be seen and I didn’t get a message from any of them (well, only Thereza and Iver had internet on their phone, but anyway) to let me know where they were and what their plans were.

So I made plans with the people from my tour and with Tom from my room and with Jeff from Switzerland (who had been traveling with us since Inle lake). We all went in search of a nice place to watch the sunset. Our guide had told us about a nice place, but when we got there, there were already about 50 people sitting on that pagoda… No point in even trying to get up there, so we went to a pagoda about 100m away and climbed up there. I’m sure the other people hated us in that moment, because we were exactly in their view for the sunset, but hey, that’s life! 😄

We were a very nice group and we had a lot of fun there before going back to the hostel.

In the hostel, my other friends were waiting, but I wasn’t in the mood to spend time with themn so I went for dinner with Etty, Ellee, Manon, Campbell, Jeff and Tom and later we had a couple of beers in the hostel with Pascal and Boris. It was a very fun night and I was actually happy to spend time with other people than with Iver and Thereza – I was still a bit mad that nobody had cared to answer my messages about where they were (Jule told me later that Thereza had seen my messages but had «forgotten» to answer… WTF!? Thanks for nothing!) – and we laughed a lot that night! 🤗

The next morning, I got up at 5AM to go see the sunrise with my new friends. Everybody had wanted to go, but in the end most of them slept in and finally it was only Ellee, Tom, Jeff, Pascal, Boris and I who went and we were joined by Gin and her friend and some Israeli guy who shared a room with Pascal. Etty had wanted to come too, but she had a flight to the beach at 8:30AM, so she couldn’t come to see the sunrise with us…

Initially we wanted to go to a pagoda the other girls (who slept in) wanted to go to, but that one was super illuminated and it was impossible to go up without being discovered. Since this place was pretty close to the one where we had been the first morning, I guided the others there. On the way, first we lost Boris and Tom (somehow we never managed to arrive all together to a place, we always lost some people on the way; every time! 😄), then we were suddenly followed by a huge group of tourists who were also looking for a good spot. I only thought : «Shit! Because of them we will all be discovered!!!». Fortunately there was a local coming to guide them away while – in the mess of people – we sneaked in and climbed up the pagoda. Thanks to this big group, Tom and Boris found us again, so this was good. We discovered that the pagoda has 1 floor more than we thought and so we went all the way up to see the sunrise. 2 other tourists found their way up there, but otherwise nobody bothered us and we enjoyed a fantastic sunrise in great company! 🤗

And that’s it; we spent the rest of the morning packing our bags, relaxing and after lunch Jule and I took a bus to Mandalay. Lukas and Bianca had already gone to Mandalay the day before, because Bi had only a few days left in Myanmar and Iver, Thereza, Jeff and Tom had taken an earlier bus, so they were already in Mandalay when we arrived.

I liked Bagan a lot. The temples and pagodas everywhere are beautiful, I enjoyed two breathtaking sunrises and 2 nice sunsets and I met wonderful people! 🤗❤️

Photo 13-01-2019, 17 49 46
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