Monday, January 12, 2009

Bagan Sunrise

I could barely see my hand in front of my face, but I could detect the stone bulk of the temple, a blackness against the darkness. Fortunately, I could make out the sandy path. I slipped off my sandals and started to climb the stone steps. That part is easy since your hands do the job of finding the way up.

The carriage driver that brought me had to guide his horse with a flashlight. Although there were several temples lit up through the night and the stars were bright, it was still very, very dark.

Temples seem to float in the darkness.

It was sometime around 5:30 and much too early to be up for the sun rise. There was plenty of activity in the area though; trucks were rumbling along the nearby road and birds called occasionally. I could just make out the Eastern horizon. I set up my tripod and stood there in bare feet, waiting. The horizon changed from deep purple to some shade of red I can't name.
A monastery holds a lonely vigil on a distant hilltop

Among the half dozen lit temples, I could make out shapes on the plain; silhouettes of other pagodas and temples. Birds were more plentiful now, and so were the trucks. The landscape slowly transitioned from black to dark purple to blue. Pools of mist flowed between the trees and the light level increased.

The sun seemed to be taking its good sweet time because the whole plane was bright as daylight. Then a bright orange sliver appeared on the horizon and soon formed a crescent. The sun rises and sets fast this close to the equator. Within moments, the orb cleared the horizon and climbed.

I had the pagoda to myself, but eventually a couple of kids had spotted me and started the climb up. They would inevitably be selling postcards. I pulled some candy out of my pocket and gave it to them before they had a chance to start their sales pitch "Today business no good!" Yes, but it's only 7AM.

Balloons float over the landscape.
It took a while before the rays fell on the temples and pagodas, warming them from one side. As the sun rose, so did two balloons. They flew low enough for their baskets to be hidden in the trees - two giant heads walking among the pagodas.

In a few hours the sun will beat down on the landscape and all must seek shelter.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Hello -- I found this page from the "challenges" section of You submitted a photo to the "wow" challenge on June 18, 2009 titled "Dawn on the plains of Bagan". I wanted to tell you that I think that shot is stupendous. It's likely the best photo I've seen on dpreview, and there are hundreds of excellent photos on that site. Congratulations on a lovely photograph.
-- NYC Jim from dpreview