Flying high in the city of 4000 temples

Trip Start Nov 21, 2013
Trip End Dec 16, 2013

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Saturday, November 30, 2013

After having explored the beauty of Mandalay I headed in the direction the ancient city of Bagan. Along the way I explored the cool Phowinatung Caves located an ear-defening boat ride and an incredibly dusty and bumpy car ride away from the city. Covered in dust and in desperate need of a massage, it is a welcoming sight to see the sign at the entrance reading: 1-Stop and relax (number two was pay the entrance fee).

Here, little girls are making and selling beautiful flower crowns (very similar to those we wear in Sweden for Midsummer!) that one can buy and offer to one of the myriad of Buddhas that are calling these caves their home. All are different in shapes and forms, dating from the 14th century to the 18th century. There are no tourists here, except for a school class of Burmese children, and it was such a pleasant experience to stroll around the cave complex. I bought a few gold leafs that I place on the golden reclining Buddha and make a wish for the new year. 

My next stop was not hard to miss as it is the tallest Buddha on the Planet (I'm pretty sure one can see it from space!). The grand Thanboddhay Paya stands a mesmerizing 129m (423ft) tall in a place that I can best describe as in the middle of nowhere. Alongside this massive structure is the slightly smaller 95m (312ft) reclining Buddha. The never-ending stairs that leads up to the two Buddhas are lined with "hello water ladies" as well as souvenir shops and women offering to paint your face with thanakha which unfortunately looks more like I have forgotten to rub in my face moisturizer, than the beautiful patterns that show up on the Burmese beautiful milk chocolate colored skin. I do get a lot of approving nods and smiles from the locals as they point to my face. I personally can't wait to get the darn stuff off my face, as it starts to dry up and crack, resulting in massive itching. 

A day later I finally arrive at Bagan- the one place Marco Polo described as "One of the finest sights on Earth". Situated in the heart of Burma, it was once the Puy capital between the 5th-9th centuries AD. The Puy, considered by some, to be the founders of Burma's first empire. This area has an estimated 4000 temples dotted over green fields that can best be viewed from a hot air balloon high in the sky. So of course, that is what one does! 

 This was a first for me and wow, wow, WOW! I don't know what was more amazing; the feeling of floating trough the air or to see this spectacular landscape with it's temples! All in all, it was simply INCREDIBLE! Something to put on your bucketlist for sure. The landing was a bit choppy and we ended up quite far from the other balloons. Somewhat of an anticlimax as we had to stay in the basket until the crew came to our rescue 30min later. The wind picked up and we ended up swaying from side to side (of course I kept thinking we were going to tip over every time) and we had to intake landing position over and over again. I don't think I have laughed that much in a long time. Finally out of the basket, we had been surrounded by a hoard of trinket-selling locals that had to be roped off (yes you read that right) as we drank champagne and ate croissants as are accustomed after a successful landing. Funny thing is that everyone bought something after having all that champagne on an empty stomach. I got myself a pair of crazy pants. Yup, don't drink and shop.

The rest of the day I spent relaxing with a piņa colada by the hotel pool (class, class, class) as well as exploring the temples and stupas on an electrical scooter. As I watched the sun set, all I could think of was gratitude. This was a day I will never forget. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to have Josh by my side. I miss you!

Peace, Love & champagne balloon rides

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Gunnar on


Rebecca on

Gotta get me a pair of those crazy pants! ;)

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