8th Feb 2016 ⇒ Somewhere on the Irrawaddy River
Well, I have checked off another box on my bucket list. On Sunday I flew over the Bagan Temples with Oriental Ballooning. Out pilot, Ravi, was British trained and had been flying for over 30 years. Definitely received the best service for any activity I’ve done in Asia! We were taken out to the golf course near Nyaung U for the take-off and had coffee & tea with croissants for breakfast. After a quick introduction, we watched them blow up the balloons. I never realised how technical the whole process really is! Once the balloon was inflated, we had a smooth take off, heading towards the Bagan Resort. We got to fly over a few of the main temples- all the time Ravi explaining a brief history of them. It was an amazing experience!
My only expectation (a.k.a. why I shouldn’t make them!) was that the sunrise photos were going to be amazing. I really think the sunrise ones from our temples (which we had to ourselves) were the best! It was incredible to see the temples in all their glory however! The champagne at 8am wasn’t bad either!
- Coolest way to see the temples.
- Meet a cool Aussie family.
- Learnt a lot about what air- ballooning is.
- Started too late for sunrise photos
- Very small breakfast
- Still 320 USD!
A Must- Do while in Bagan. Soaring softly over ancient temples as the day slowly warms up with the rise of the sun.
For me, it was probably the most expensive Instagram photo that I will ever take. Gorgeous, though.
I selected Oriental Ballooning mostly because of TripAdvisor. The original, and well-known, Balloons over Bagan (BoB) was relatively similar in cost but tourists seemed to be more impressed with Oriental. At the takeoff sight, I realised how massive the operation is. BoB had significantly more balloons in the sky than Oriental. There was also the newcomer, Golden Eagle Ballooning.
With the benefit of just a short trip, I decided to treat myself a late christmas present, and booked my flight a few months before my visit to Myanmar. I had seen hundreds of beautiful photos with glowing sun, orange skies and golden temples. I needed some of my own!
The booking process was relatively simple, and they dropped off my “ticket” the night before my flight. Although the 5.30 pickup time simples early, after a day in Bagan, you realised that everyone is there for the sunrises. We were driven out to the golf course for our “breakfast-snack”. Tea (not the yummy Myanmar Sweet Tea) and instant coffee were served alongside some pastries and croissants. We had our introduction and safety briefing shortly after and had a few minutes to watch the pilots and their assistants set everything up. In order of sonority the balloons took off, with Bob starting then Oriental and lastly Golden Eagle.
As an obvious safety measure, the balloons can’t fly in the dark. But unfortunately this leads a delay getting airborne. The gorgeous sun-kissed temples are already sitting in the morning sun by the time your flying. The flight was quick but of course, as your standing there soaring over ancient temples… there isn’t anywhere I would rather be. I was very grateful that we had only one couple with a massive overbearing SLR clicking in the corner. I shared my compartment with a family that were content on taking selfies on their phones. Watching our pilot steer this massive instrument was part of the fun!
Our landing was pretty soft, only momentarily sitting on top of a shrub before we could be pulled away. The pilots unfortunately can’t control the direction, just the height at which we fly. Different times of year mean they have different land spots!
To close the morning off, we had a glass (or two!) of bubbly and shared our excitement while getting our certificates. We had some slices of fruit before getting taken back to our accommodation. I was back by mid-morning to continue Temple- seeing for the rest of the day!