Bagan, Myanmar. November 2019 (11 photos)
Should you find yourself in Bagan from about mid October to mid April, one of the options for your travel itinerary is to take a balloon flight over the temples of Bagan. It’s not an essential activity for everyone, but on a personal note I would have seriously regretted not doing it, or if my flight had been cancelled due to adverse weather.
On that note, safety is a major feature of the ballooning process. Each year, experienced balloon pilots from across the world come to Bagan for the ballooning season. At least 4 companies provide ballooning. Each balloon has its own dedicated ground support team. There’s a safety briefing before the flight. Pilots are in constant contact with other pilots and ground teams whilst in the air. Flights are at sunrise and will be cancelled for unfavourable weather conditions.
“We have lift-off”
I’d chosen to fly with a company called Balloons over Bagan, a privately owned company and the first commercial hot air balloon operation in South East Asia. Balloons over Bagan has a fleet of 1944 Chevrolet World War II vintage buses (as above) to pick up passengers before dawn and the bumpy ride to the takeoff zone was a fun experience in itself. I felt like a veteran for this flight, having previously flown in a balloon over Queenstown, New Zealand. That day in Queenstown there were two balloons in the air. This day in Bagan there were more than twenty balloons in the air.
“First glimpse above Bagan”
One can’t control the sunrise, so I will admit I didn’t get the golden dawn light I had hoped for but apart from that it was a great experience. Here are a few photos from my flight…
“Balloons over Bagan”
The aerial perspective is a great way to appreciate the vastness of the more than 2000 temples that remain of more than 4000 temples that were originally built.
“Balloon over Bagan”
They were waving as a greeting. I was waving back as in “get out of the way, you’re photobombing me.”
Fortunately we didn’t land right on top of those child nuns and monks.
Another way to appreciate the balloons is to photograph them flying low over the temples of Bagan from a suitable ground vantage point, but a lot of luck is required to be at the right spot at the right time. I didn’t get that opportunity.