Remembering Myanmar: Sunrise in Bagan

No matter how awe-stricken I was when I stood in the middle of the huge Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, it did not prepare me for the experience that I was to face the next day. 
We took the overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan and arrived in the wee hours of the morning. The group spent some time having coffee and tea at a shop which was luckily open at that hour. A few drivers and their horse carts were at the bus terminal, eagerly waiting for us to decide what we wanted to do at such an ungodly hour. I honestly cannot remember whose idea it was to watch the sun rise on top of an abandoned temple but I'm glad we did.
Out in the dark
The group patiently waiting for the sun

Imagine sitting on a loose brick atop an abandoned temple while watching the whole place come to life as the sun cast its rays on more than four thousand pieces of century-old temples, stupas, and pagodas scattered in every direction.


I.was.breathless.in.Bagan.

The feeling was beyond words.

Here, there
and everywhere!

It took a while before I finally got back to my senses and started taking photos of the view around us and actually include people in it! Based on this photo, we might have been discussing some really serious matter.

Somewhere in the middle of the discussion, a visitor came up and said hi. Say hello to this young Burmese. 

This kid and his sister, Htay Htay, invited us over to their house located right behind the beautiful temple in the photo below. Thanks to Ed's post, it all came back to me in detail. Their family taught the guys how to properly wear their longyis and gladly let us try putting on thanaka. A thanaka is a cosmetic paste applied mostly to the face but it can be used on the body as well. It is made from a bark of a thanaka tree and aside from aesthetic purposes, it is also used as a sun block.

The guys in their longyis
How to wear a tanakha - I think I can pass as Burmese!
It was finally time to say goodbye to the generous family. We still had a full day ahead of us and we needed a quick rest. Before we left, they gave all of us a piece of thanaka stick to use on our faces for the rest of the trip.

That early morning trip was a proof of the kindness of Burmese people. And it is also, by far, my best sunrise experience.

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