We woke up at 4 AM to climb the Shwe San Daw Pagoda in the middle of the dark and watch the sunrise. And it was worth every moment. (for us, maybe not so much for our driver who had to get up in the middle of the night to drive us…)
We actually got there early, so we kind of waited around in the dark for a while. But it was probably better that we got there when we did, because the upper terraces of Shwe San Daw were PACKED by the time the sun came up, filled with tourists and locals alike. We started seeing light around 5, and the sky slowly slowly slowly started turning orange. But the sun didn’t actually come up until 6 something! We were in the same spots for over 2 hours.
I myself have almost 100 photos from this Bagan sunrise, but I’ll limit myself to about 10 pics here. My parents and Desmond also took at least 100 each. Ridiculous. Desmond also took an AMAZING timelapse on his phone but I don’t think I can post it on here 😦
One of the main attractions at Bagan is the hot air balloons. Apparently you need to make reservations to ride them months in advance, because space fills up fast. Imagine flying over a sea of thousands of pagodas in a hot air balloon as the sun rises. I bet Beyonce did that when she was here. Hmph. Hot air balloons are definitely on the agenda the next time I come to Bagan.
After much satisfaction (and difficulty weaving through the remaining sunrise-watchers), we drove back to the hotel and had breakfast, then got back on the road for a few more pagodas.
Lawkananda Pagoda (Melanie’s pronunciation: Lakwonda Pagoda) is another gold pagoda on the bank of the Irrawaddy River.
We also stopped in at Manuha Pagoda, which has a huge reclining Buddha (except I didn’t get any pictures of it, woops).
Thatbyinnyu Pagoda was next. It looks so much like Gawdawpalin Pagoda from yesterday, I thought we were there again. Thatbyinnyu Pagoda has a bunch of hallways that you can walk through, and a bunch of Buddha statues in each hallway.
Next up: Ananda Pagoda, which I think might be the biggest pagoda in Bagan. It was definitely the most packed. There are four HUGE Buddhas inside, each standing in a different state of nirvana. There are hallways between the Buddhas, and in each hallway are hundreds (thousands?) of paintings and frescoes, each with their own statues of Buddha.
And last, Alodaw Pyi Pagoda. I got yelled at here for trying to take a picture on the steps of the pagoda… adding this to the list of places that women aren’t allowed to be -__-
aaaaand with that, our time in Bagan is done 😦 Originally we were supposed to be here for two nights, but our plans changed. I definitely need to come back here. Of the thousands of pagodas in Bagan, there are about 20 that are famous, must-see ones, and we only got to about 10! Boo. Next time I’ll come back and rent a little scooter and go see as many of the pagodas as I can.
We’re going to stop in for lunch somewhere, but we’re now on the road for the rest of the day. It’s a 6 hour drive to our next destination, Pindaya, so once we get there, it’ll be time for hotel and sleep.
For now, 6 hours of reading, napping, looking at photos, and singing Burmese karaoke in the van. WOOOOO