Sunrise & Sunset at Bagan, Myanmar

bagan
I woke up to the sound of commotion, as the very comfortable JJ Express overnight bus service from Yangon slowly makes its way to Bagan bus terminal at five in the morning. The people running towards the bus are the taxi drivers waiting for passengers to take to either New Bagan, Old Bagan or Nyaung-U, three most popular township where most accommodations are located.

I waited for the commotion to die down and was one of the few who stayed behind at the bus terminal, rejecting an offer after another for a taxi fare that is seriously over-priced. Eventually, my weariness gets the best of me and eventually found an American solo traveler whom I can split the 70,000 Myanmar Kyat (MMK) taxi fee with.

Don’t want to waste the morning and the taxi fee, an arrangement to stop by at one of the nearby temples with a suggested best view of sunrise was arranged.
bagan

If you are planning a trip to Bagan, it is common to see great photos of sunrise in Bagan or much forum devoted to where is the best temple to climb for an amazing view.

Truth be told, I don’t remember the temple we went to, definitely not the most popular, though all I remember is seeing so many people crowding at the temple steps waiting for the sunrise.
bagan
bagan
bagan

Unfortunately, that magical sunrise that everyone dreamed of never came, it was cloudy and hazy, an expected type of weather for the month of March in the region, where the burning of fields is still a widely farming practice.
bagan
bagan
bagan
bagan

Nonetheless, the distant layered view of the Paya (Stupa) after another set against the Bagan desert landscape is a thing of beauty, an overall impressive sight.

I did not wait for the hot air balloon flying over Bagan to come closer, we left and plan to return for the sunrise instead, hoping for a clearer view.
bagan
bagan
bagan

In the afternoon, I went to the Shwesandaw Temple, the so called “Sunset temple”, as the name suggests the most popular temple for the view. I was early and planning to wait to rest at the top levels and wait.

The height of Shwesandaw temple provides a great vantage point for viewing the impressive numerous ancient temples scattered across the vastness of Bagan plains. I overhear one tourist saying that the view reminded him of Star Wars.
bagan
bagan
bagan
bagan
bagan
bagan
bagan

For sure the view is even more impressive with the setting sun in the backdrop, but the amount of people arriving every minute is staggering and no one wants to give up their chosen spots, the top level spaces are small and yet people still find a way to squeeze in.

Eventually, it was so over-crowded and all you can see is another individual and his tripod, so I decided to leave and forget about the sunset view, I don’t think I will be able to enjoy what supposed to be a memorable experience in such an uncomfortable situation.

As I cycled back to my hostel, I realize how the government role in preserving the temples is crucial. With the massive number of tourists climbing these ancient temples every day, it will be a matter of time before parts of the structures will begin to deteriorate.
bagan
bagan

On my way back to the hostel, I passed by a narrow road that is quite familiar, the same road in the morning towards the less popular temple we went to for the sunrise view.
bagan
bagan

I immediately saw the local man selling paintings whom I had a conversation in the morning, he recognized me and smile, there a lot of familiar faces too, the same individuals I saw in the morning.
bagan
bagan
bagan

There is a crowd, but way less than Shwesandaw Temple. The view is not as magnificent as the sunset temple, but it was enough for me.
bagan

Truth be told, despite having at least two more days to spend in Bagan, I gave up chasing the sunset and sunrise view of Bagan after that day. It started to lose its meaning for me, after seeing everyone frantically racing from one temple to another, as if it is the only reason or meaning why one should enjoy a visit Bagan.
bagan

5 thoughts on “Sunrise & Sunset at Bagan, Myanmar

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s