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Published: December 18th 2018
Checking the burners
We are both exhausted after a fantastic day. We woke up at 440am in order to be ready for a 515 pick up by ‘Golden Eagles’, a ballooning company. Our hostel does free flow tea & coffee so we could at least enjoy a hot drink whilst waiting for our minibus.
Once picked up we were taken, in the pitch dark, to some fields where there were multiple balloons being prepared for flight. All 3 companies in the area take off from here, the other 2 being ‘balloons over bagan’ and ‘oriental ballooning’. This meant we were met with fields of burners being checked - suddenly seeing huge flames lighting up the sky from different parts of the fields.
Our group was ushered towards a table where we sat down and were given tea and pastries whilst we watched proceedings. Soon we were introduced to the pilots - 4 from our company (the other groups sat well out of sight). We were then divided into groups, assigned a pilot and taken to our balloon for a safety briefing. They then explained how they are inflated and what to expect for the rest of the morning. At this point we
got to watch them first attach the balloon to the basket, inflate with cold air, then heat the air until the balloon stood upright - with a large ground crew ensuring no accidental lift off. Once ready we were all allowed to get on board.
Our balloon was one of the first to start to take off. It was amazing rising gently above the ground in a group of other balloons. We started by flying low into the middle of the main temple area so we could get a good view and then rose into the faster air in order to get a better birds eye view. Our pilot, Nick, was fantastic and spent a lot of time explaining what we were looking at and about how he was flying the hot air balloon. We were lucky it was a beautiful, clear day, with little breeze so our flight lasted more or less the full hour. One of the most impressive sights from the air was a pentagonal temple which we saw again from the ground later in the day but you cannot tell it’s an unusual shape so easily when on foot.
Amazingly almost all the balloons
landed in the same set of fields as each other. As we landed our ground crew was there to meet us and help ensure a smooth landing. They then explained how to deflate the balloon.
After disembarking we went over to sit at some tables for a 2nd breakfast of fresh fruits and banana cake. Here we all enjoyed a glass (or 2) of champagne as a toast for a successful flight. We watched some other balloons land and then slowly made our way back to the mini buses and our hostel where we had breakfast number 3!
The rest of the day we spent exploring the temples in the South of the area using an e-bike. Despite both being tired we managed a full day before collapsing back in the hostel.
Highlights of the temples today included sandstone carvings, different types of murals and a temple with lots of bricked up passageways with all sorts of macabre stories to explain why.
For lunch we ended up in New Bagan having a massive meal of traditional Myanmar foods, including fish, pork, chicken and mutton dishes. It was delicious. Overall it was a great day, but nothing we saw
Warming the air
Gradually the balloon stands upright and corrects the basket as it does so
could compare to our morning experience.
Tomorrow we have yet another early start as we are being picked up at 430am for a 5am check in for the boat to Mandalay. At least it’ll be an easy day once on board.
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