Friday, February 15, 2019

#8 Hot Air Balloon Ride over Bagan

A hot air balloon flight over the more than 2000 Buddhist monuments surrounding Bagan is an experience not to be missed. Words just can't describe what we saw. (But I'll try...)

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.
Getting me into the basket was the hardest part. A bit of assistance, which you can see on Joko's video (link below) was required, but I made it!

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.

There were a number of companies all taking off at the same time, and each had different colored balloons. 

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
As promised earlier in this post, here's a link to Joko's video about the first part of our visit.  
Joko's Video 

I, selfishly, wanted you to look at my pictures and read my posts first, but he does a great job of telling the same story in a 3:39 minute video. Please check it out.

He appreciates comments too! Tell him his Mom sent you.

Next #9 Mandalay


  1. Wonderful Video of your visit to the Bagan Area but somehow could not leave a comment. Nice to still get American Food in a foreign land. (KFC LOL) Probably due to our Limited Connection. Please pass along my Kodos for a Video well done.

    It's about time.

  2. Oh what a magical ride, breathtaking when the sun came up. How lucky you are!

  3. Thanks for the plug! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

  4. What a beautiful place and a great way to see it:)


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