The weather forecast didn’t look good before I left for Myanmar. I’d booked a hot air balloon flight especially for New Year’s Day but, closer to the date, the chances of rain kept increasing. I hoped I wouldn’t have to activate Plan B and plot a Bagan temple route on a bike in wet weather.
In my dreams, I imagined myself floating in the basket of a hot air balloon over some of Myanmar’s most famous pagodas and stupas as the sun rose. The peace would be interrupted occasionally by the hissing of the burner above, while people below aimed their cameras at us.
I opened my eyes on the morning of my balloon flight, however, and it was pissing down. How could this be, in the middle of the dry season? Check out this article on how the unseasonal rain affected the farmers. Needless to say, the flight was cancelled. If I wanted to see those temples, I had to rent an e-bike and ride there. Bicycles were available and cheaper, but after the pain of cycling around Angkor, I decided against renting them.
The wet, overcast weather meant that there were no pretty skies. However, it also meant that foreign tourists were a tiny minority over the holiday, and the plains didn’t turn into a dustbowl. Hundreds of temples dot the area, thanks to the attempts of Buddhist Myanmese kings to make merit over the centuries, and it would’ve been impossible to see them all. Instead, I picked out the most interesting ones.
Here’s the route that I took, with some modifications and useful information from my art history classes. I’ve included a Google Map at the end.