Waiting for Sunrise at Shwesandaw Pagoda

I placed one of my bags at my feet on the long bus ride from Yangon to Bagan.
 
Halfway through the trip, at around midnight, I found the base of the bag soaking wet. I thought the bottled water spilled inside the bag, but saw half the bus’ aisle was wet as well.
There was a thunderstorm, and somehow, rain made its way inside the bus. Interestingly, our bags in the bus’s compartment remained dry.
 
We arrived at Nyaung U bus terminal half past three and were immediately swarmed by horse cart drivers. After gathering our bags, we hired 3 horse carts for our group of 7 to bring us to Shwesandaw Pagoda for sunrise.
 
Bagan was still in deep slumber. Its silence broken by the rhythmic clip-clopping of the horses’ hooves.
Our feet dangling from the horse cart, we marveled at a couple of beautifully lit pagodas from afar. And just as I was trying to adjust my sitting position – trying not to fall off – we suddenly went off-road, and within a few minutes, halted. We had arrived at Shwesandaw.
 
The moon was still out when we arrived at Shwesandaw Pagoda
The moon was still out, but its light wasn’t enough for us to see the way up. Armed wiht our headlamps and flashlights, we climbed the steep stes. Climbing was not as hard thanks to the metal railing.
 
 We had the place to ourselves for a good hour or two before people started pouring in. By this time, we had already secured a good vantage point.
Sunrise wasn’t as glorious as I expected (maybe because it was monsoon?)
It took a while – past 7:00 am, in fact – before the sun showed itself. Its orange rays swiftly pierced through the periwinkle sky and revealed silhouettes of countless stupas jutting out from Bagan’s verdant plains. Thatbinnyu, being the tallest temple, was naturally the most prominent.
My pictures don’t do this place justice. You have to see it yourself.
I must admit, I was a bit underwhelmed by the sunrise but Bagan soon revealed its beauty. Just how beautiful is it, you ask? Let’s just say you don’t need to be a professional photographer to get a good picture.

It was already a bit past 8:00 am when we descended from the massive pagoda and we still had a lot of temples to explore — like, over two thousand more to choose from.

K

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