Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Capturing Sunrise and Sunset in Bagan and Mandalay

Visiting Mandalay and Bagan is incomplete without witnessing the sunrise and sunset amidst the great planes of 4,000 temples and pagodas !

This was the first time that sunrise and sunset was deliberately included in our itinerary, and we didn't regret the early wake-up calls! As it was one of the highlights of our trip. 

Day 1 - Sunset in - Ubein Bridge

Our first afternoon in Mandalay was spent in Mingun. On the way back to city we had short stop at one of Sagaing Hill side bridge, to appreciate the beginning of the skies hues' transformation towards sunset.

But the main site for our sunset viewing was the U Bein Teak bridge.

U Bein Bridge is a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura in Myanmar.

Arriving at around 6:15pm, there were quite number of locals hanging out on the bridge, off-course the tourists have already positioned their camera setup, both on and off the bridge.

Would have been nicer if we took a boat ride to see the full length of the bridge.  Due to time constraints, we just have to be contented on top of the bridge.

Facing the right side of the bridge, there is a small Buddhist temple by the lake which has a perfect backdrop of the colorful sky.

Day 2 - Sunrise - Bagan

Manisanda Hotel Roof Top

Other travelers would immediately head to one of the pagodas in Old Bagan upon arriving early morning (3am) via the Mandalay-Bagan bus. 

Instead, we chose to catch some sleep first, and wake up with a beautiful sunrise on our rooftop.

The location this hotel is at edge of the New Bagan, hence there are less structure obstructing the view of the infinite pagoda horizon.

This was the main reason why we chose to stay at Manisanda Hotel.  Bagan sunrise tour costs 7,000kts (on a low season) and it would be a savings if we have it free! 

The rooftop is also where they serve the breakfast, what a moment:

Day 2 - Sunset - Bagan

After 8 hours of temple hopping around Nyaung U and Old Bagan, one of the last temple we visited that afternooon was That Bin Nyu Temple, on top offers a magnificent view of Bagan temples,

the day ended with sunset viewing on top of Shwesandaw Pagoda. 

It was crowded on top, when we arrive at 5:30pm, two levels of ledge are a available for the spectators.  

That day, the sky was cloudy, hence we can't capture the full sun setting down, with the river as the horizon.  

In-spite of the over crowded pagoda ledges, you just have to mind others who have already positioned themselves earlier than you.

Never the less, decent photos were still captured.

Day 3 - Sunrise in Bagan

Waking up at 5:00 am to be pickup by our hired car, we first stop by Mingalar Zedi pagoda (between old and new Bagan), but after seeing the height of it - we were not satisfied, hence we went to another viewing area the Buledi Pagoda.  

This pagoda was under rehabilitation at that time, it is evident from the metal frames around the dome of the pagoda.  

The location was good, because there are nearby small pagodas which has good horizon where the sun comes out.

At 5:30 am, it is the best time to arrive here, to see some Pagodas lighted up:

While the sky is still young, one can appreciate the bluish backdrop for the thousands of pagodas in Bagan.

The Bubble Gang !

During our sunset at Shwesandaw Pagoda, there was a group of westerners who blows out water bubbles.  We again encountered the same group during our sunrise at Buledi.


We were all glad that we encountered them twice! and seeing those flying bubbles amidst 3000 Bagan pagodas was a wonderful moment to capture, 

and perhaps it was the closest we can have as substitute for the Hot air balloons (which are only available during last quarter of the year), since our trip was on July.

But after 30 minutes of appreciating the unique opportunity, my happiness slowly turned into annoyance with those flying bubbles.
  • Couldn't we capture the natural view without those bubbles? 
  • How can we avoid those randomly flying bubbles to enter our image frames? 
  • At some point, it was confusing if the scenery of temples are above the ground ? or under the ocean? 

But finally, I realize that to enjoy life, we must not complain! We have learn to appreciate whatever is in-front of us!

Day 3 - Sunset - in New Bagan

Thitsawati Temple located at  New Bagan area

Thitsawati was not part of our original itinerary, but our kind driver brought us here as our last stop after our Mt Popa trip.|

The temple is very unique, since it is not only a single pagoda (as it was for Shwesandaw and Buledi), but it is a full temple structure, with 4 levels, and passage ways to all levels were open!

This is when I felt adventurous, like Indiana Jones.  

At first, it was a mystery on how we could reach the top, then as we discover the passageways along the way, we then have to squeeze our body into the very narrow arch ways and ledges in the upper level,

I even got scratches all around my shoulders and knees, while squeezing into one of these corner arches!  But its all worth it!

The view on top was breathtaking!

This sunset was way better than yesterday, its our first time to see the sun fully setting down in Bagan!

Day 4- Sunrise in Mandalay Hills

We arrive Mandalay hills at 6 am to catch the sunrise. 

Though there was a lift for guests to climb the topmost viewing point of Mandalay Hill, however it opens only at 8 am.   Hence we patiently climb the cemented stairs.

We were the only visitor that morning,

and it was one of the almost perfect sunrise we have captured during our entire 4 days trip in Myanmar.

Walking around the viewing deck, we saw the Mandalay Palace Square (that big green patch of land surrounded by a water / moat)

Other views at this side of the deck are the pagodas below,

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog. It is highly recommended that you find chance to visit this wonderful place! 

Read through the succeeding articles to know our complete itinerary in Mandalay / Bagan.

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