We were picked up at our hotel well before dawn and driven to the balloon launching area. We were well taken care of: seated at tables laden with buns and fruit for breakfast, and served much welcome cups of coffee while we watched the balloons being filled.
|I'm not sure how Craig pulls out such images, but it was still
dark when this picture of us in the balloon basket was taken.
We had were 12 passengers plus the pilot. I was secretly glad he was British. That way we could understand what he was telling us.
We rose like giant bubbles into the sky.
We were in a Golden Eagle yellow balloon.
The first light of pre-dawn illuminated the larger, gold structures.
|Not quite light yet ...
It was fascinating to drift over these structures. and wonder about them. Bagan was one of many capital cities in the history of Burma. What are their secrets?
How they were constructed is no mystery. Bricks.
There are efforts to keep the land around them somewhat cleared, but from what I understand, the restoration process is strictly controlled.
From the roads around them, it is apparent this grouping is frequently visited. In fact if you look closely you can see someone in the entryway of one structure. This was at about 6:30 AM.
I thought all the haze was morning fog, but it was smoke from small fires used to burn trash. I recalled we had a burn barrel in the 1980's in which we did the same. We lived in Wisconsin, and there was no trash pickup out in the country. I wonder if there is trash pickup in Bagan.
As the early morning light became stronger, the buildings caught the glow.
All too soon the sandy banks of the river, where we were headed for our landing, came into view.
|One of our sister Golden Eagle Balloons coming in for a landing.
Once down, we were helped out of the basket and our pilot poured us each a celebratory glass of Champagne. This tradition dates back to the very first French balloonists. They had brought along a bottle of Champagne to toast the flight, but when they landed they gave it to the local farmers to show they were not devils and to apologize for disturbing the land and livestock.
This farmer has to go to work! He was not part of the whole balloon flight extravaganza. He and several other were there waiting until the balloon trucks were out of the way so they could drive their bullock carts to their riverside fields. I had seen many of these carts driving along the rural roads, but never got a good picture. This man was nice enough to stop and smile for me after I had trudged some distance across the sand with camera in hand.
|Gil, shooting a video before dawn
He appreciates comments too! Tell him his Mom sent you.
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