Ok, so this is not a wrap up of the entire Day One in Bagan. We did a full day tour aka I shot about 400+ photos over close to...well honestly in the heat and humidity I lost track of how many we sites we visited. Here's a sampling from the arrival to Bagan and our first Sunrise.
We 'endured' a four hour drive from Mandalay to Bagan in a spacious travel van fully equipped with rear AC.
Luxurious cannot begin to describe the feeling of serenity AC provides when traversing the highways of Myanmar. To be fair my PNW blood is calibrated to handle 30-40F degree weather in February, not 80's with decent humidity. We stopped for snacks and gas about half way and I must say the stations in most areas are really, really nice. I tried the purple Tarot Ice Cream for the first time and I was in love. We arrived at our hotel on schedule and checked in. Every hotel or hostel we checked into was more-than-welcoming usually offering a clean natural wet wipe and sweet 'Welcome Drink'. Mingalabar (MING-la-bahh) or Hello, welcome in Burmese.
The hotel Thiri Mingalar was pleasant and we would stay there again.
The next morning we hired a different driver to take us on a full day tour of his favorite ancient sites. This guide totally understood and we seldom saw a tourist, in fact we saw more locals than tourists, it was awesome. We got to about a dozen of the thousands...yes....THOUSANDS of Temples, Pagodas, and Stupas by nightfall.
Witness just one Sunrise from practically anywhere in Myanmar and it becomes clear where a simple explanation for the infatuation of painting things Gold is derived. The Golden or Magic hour before the Sun wakes and sleeps is unlike anywhere I've seen. I'm not gonna lie...it feels like a bit of the industrial haze from Mainland China and local burning of trash and controlled brush fires likely plays part as a warming filter, regardless, it's truly, truly amazing.
Turns out many others had the same game plan as we did: Wake up when it's dark and haul-ass to your driver's favorite sunrise spot.
Yeah, had no idea this one would turn out the way it did. I. Love. Happy. Accidents.
One of the sentiments of this undeniably happy culture is summed up by many-a-cheesy TShirt with something to the extent of 'Keep Smiling, it looks good on you.' 😁
I was talking to Matt about something on the less crowded southern-facing side of the Pagoda and all of a sudden he gasped a few expletives as the valley of foggy trees and sky exploded with light. The next image was made about two minutes later.
Sometimes you just gotta let the Ultra-wide angle lens sing. Especially when Hot Air Balloons appear out of nowhere.
It kept getting more crowded on the Eastern-facing side for obvious reasons so Katie decided to be a trend setter and climb up for a better view. Others followed suit.
Did I mention I absolutely LOVE the woman above?!? She's one of the main reasons why I have the opportunity to capture these magical moments from various places on our amazing planet. Without @trailerparkgirltravelstheworld this kind of travel for me would be nigh impossible.
We are all for exploring and adventure but please be aware in Bagan a good amount of the sites are crumbling due to what seems to be varying states of upkeep and restoration. Certain sites have signs stating not to climb them. It's simply not safe and you end up exponentially increasing the erosion of these ancient wonders.
Um....yeah. No words needed really. 😎
It is almost overwhelming how many compositional angles exist in Bagan. Take a breath, disconnect, and let your eyes relax. Sometimes just closing them for a few seconds then turning in another direction will reveal something you did not see before. This is part of the magic of Photography. Embrace it.
After a few last shots the four of us took a moment to reflect on what we had experienced together in the wee hours of the morning. We headed down to the van to see what the rest of the day had in store.
Thanks for reading. All images taken on my Nikon D4 and either my Tamron 15-30 or 150-600 G2. Transferred and backed up using my CTGOTG v2.0 method and edited on Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile on my HTC10, uploaded using MPT Swe Thahar plan which gives you 5.8GB of LTE data (where available) for about $10USD. I got almost 2GB of bonus data I'm guessing because it was my first time using MPT, or some random Mingalabar! promotion.