Balloons over Bagan


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Our Christmas treat was to take a hot air balloon ride over Bagan, and it was a great experience. We were collected from our hotel at 5:30 am and taken to the launch site where we found about 20 balloons and lots of people. We were given a hot drink and a safety briefing, then watched as the balloons were inflated. I had not appreciated just how big these balloons are.

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Getting into the basket was a bit of a challenge, and then we were off! The silent flight was punctuated by the roar of the burners and the sound of our pilot communicating with the other balloons.

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Since the pilot cannot steer the balloon, your view is not under anyone’s control. Sometimes you are watching the sun rise, then the balloon turns around and you are watching a completely different scene. But always you are aware of the thousands of temples/pagodas below, and can appreciate the power of the Pagan Kingdom.

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As a landing site had been spotted (and claimed!), we got lower and lower and could hear the children below shouting up to us.

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Then it was sadly time to land. We had a very gentle landing and the ground crew came to help prevent the balloon taking off again. They were well-trained and rapidly laid out a groundsheet for the balloon to fall onto. We found getting out of the basket even harder than getting in, but no time to waste as we supped champagne and acknowledged the whole experience.

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It took a while for the balloon to deflate ……….

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…. and then I spotted a bullock cart wandering past; a strange conjunction between different technologies.

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When we were driving to the airport to leave Bagan, we got to see the balloons from ground level, and they remained quite majestic.

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© Helen Gray 2021