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Published: January 11th 2015
Bagan had always been on my destination list as it was said to be the land of a thousand pagoda, so when I had the opportunity, I decided to go even if it was for a short period. Little that I knew the Silk Air ticket I purchased actually was the longer version of flight from Singapore to Yangon as it transit in Mandalay (in hindsight, I should have purchased a ticket from Singapore Airlines). As I didn't intend to stay in Yangon, once arrived, I went to the domestic terminal to purchase a ticket to Bagan (there was no online booking). Interestingly, Air Bagan still operates in a traditional way (I have not seen a hand written paper ticket being issued for so long). The flight to Bagan was supposed to take about an hour or so, but little that I knew it transit in Mandalay; I was panic for a few minutes when the plane landed at Mandalay as I thought I took the wrong plane! (unfortunately the airport announcement was not very clear, and there were a few flight leaving almost at the same time).
Relieved that I landed in Bagan safely one and half hour later,
I went ahead to get my transportation from the airport. It turned out my accommodation, Amazing Bagan Resort, that I booked online was quite close to the airport. By then, it was quite late, so I didn't have a chance to go anywhere and was relieved the hotel was as good as its picture on the website. On my way to to the hotel, I asked the driver if I could rent his car the following day as I'd like to take the sunrise photographs of the pagodas. He suggested that we left at 6 am, but learning my prior experience in Siem Reap, I insisted leaving at 5:30 am.
The next day, I was picked up at 5:30 am and was driven to a nearby Pagoda when it was still dark. I was not the only one. There were people arriving in horse carts and motorbikes as well. Unfortunately, it was still very dark, and I had to climb the pagoda literally in the dark with my camera and tripod. The steps were small and quite steep. Only when I got ready to capture the sunrise, I realised I didn't bring the head for my tripod! The wait
was well rewarded as I could see the pagodas every where surrounded by fogs. What a magnificent view! It was such a breathtaking sight. I lost count. No wonder it's being called the land of a thousand pagoda! The sight became more interesting when several hot air balloon started to rise from the ground, making the entire scene colorful. It was unfortunate that I didn't have time to go for the hot air balloon ride this time, which gave me a reason to go back!
After I freshened up and had my breakfast, I headed towards the Schewizon Pagoda, the largest and gold plated Pagoda in Bagan. It was built during the reign of King Anawrahta and was completed in 1102 AD, during the reign of King Kyansittha of Pagan Dynasty. I was supposed to meet my friends from Jakarta at this Pagoda, and while waiting for them to arrive, I decided to walk around and found a monastery for the novice. I was lucky to get a few shots of the novice who were as curious as I was. The children at this monastery came from Kyaiktiyo area, where the Golden Rock is located. They do not necessarily
speak Myanmarese. It is common for parents to send their children to Monastery so that they can have better education.
I finally managed to meet up with my friends who were caught up in jewellery shopping (Myanmar is famous for its precious stones) and had a tour of a few pagodas which by then, we lost count and started to lose interests. Before my departure, I had done my research and list all the pagodas that I'd like to see. In reality when I didn't have much time, what matters was the visit to Schwezigon and sunrise viewing of these pagodas!
In the evening, I went back to Yangon, stayed over night before heading back to Singapore. When I was on my flight back to Singapore, my friends were up on the hot air balloon, and yes, they were able to annoy me for missing up the opportunity!
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