Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Turned out we didn’t need the alarm clock after all as I was up about an hour before with an upset stomach. Not sure what I ate that Catherine didn’t as she is quite fine. I decided to pop a couple Imodiums and hope for the best! There is no way I was going to miss out on this experience.

The Balloons over Bagan bus picked us up from our hotel and dropped us off in the dark at the balloon inflation site. We were offered tea and coffee while the balloons started to inflate just as the light of dawn started to make things brighter. We were amazed at the size of the balloons. 

Once they were inflated, we climbed into the basket and were good to go. Each balloon held twelve people plus the pilot. It was so peaceful floating over the pagodas and temples as the sun was starting to rise. The only sounds we heard were the occasional burst of hot air into the balloons and birds chirping in the trees below. It was amazing to see so many temples all over the place. It’s hard to describe just how many ancient temples there are here. Everywhere you look, there are hundreds.

After about 45 minutes of flying, our pilot took us down to land in a dusty field. The landing was quite entertaining. I’m not sure how these guys fly these balloons but they do seem to have quite a bit of control. We exited the basket and were invited to have a glass of champagne while the balloon was taken down, folded up and packed on to a truck. Overall, this was one of the highlights of our trip and an experience not to be missed. More importantly, the Imodium did its job!

Upon arriving back at our hotel, we took a few hours of downtime to relax and enjoy the pool. At about 4.00 pm, we met up with U Bo Ni to go out exploring. We made a quick stop at the Lawkananda Paya temple on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River and then made our way to see the amazing lacquerware artisans at Bagan House Lacquerware. Their work is incredible and takes months to complete. We purchased a few items and then it was off to take a sunset cruise on the Ayeyarwady River. This was a great way to end a day that started with a sunrise balloon ride.

The river is definitely a focal point of village life activity. There were people bathing, washing their clothes and fishing. Catherine was mobbed by all the kids as usual but the kids here seemed more grateful for the small toys and candies we gave them. Sunset on the water was amazing and the colours in the sky were spectacular. 

We booked a table for dinner on the deck at the hotel to enjoy our last night in Myanmar.

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