When I said we had an early morning, I wasn't kidding. We had to be ready in the lobby for a pick-up at 5:45am. But it was all worthwhile, as we had treated ourselves to a hot air balloon ride.
The company that we were with was Balloons Over Bagan, and they collected us in fabulous old buses, which we instantly decided that we wanted one of to kit out for overlanding. Totally impractical of course, but they looked great.
At the launch site, we had teas and biscuits while we watched them get the balloons ready. As sunrise approached, we met our pilot Elly, had our safety briefing, and then piled into the balloon.
There were sixteen people to a basket. The huge basket had five sections, laid out like an H. The centre section was for Elly and the four gas bottles. The others were for passengers, four in each. Clambering in is a feat in itself, especially trying to avoid kicking anyone, but once you're in, it is fine.
Elly kept the balloon nice and low for us, so we had a great view of the temples. And there are a lot of temples. Bagan was the royal city from the 10th century up until 1287, when bad diplomacy with the Mongols caused them to flee the city. The various Kings during that period went a bit wild building temples and pagodas. At the city's prime, it would have had over ten thousand of them.
These days, lack of upkeep after the city was abandoned and some devastating earthquakes have reduced their number to around a mere two thousand, many of which are the beautiful old red brick variety, so they look stunning. Little wonder then, that between the three companies based here, there were about seventeen balloons up in the air, and they do that every day.
As ever, my commitment to taking photos comes a poor third to actually looking at the view and enjoying the experience, and I still only use my little compact, so the photos here do absolutely no justice to the real thing.
Once we had crossed the city and the temple density had started to dwindle, Elly expertly - and very gently - set us down in an empty plot of land. The crew had us safely moored in no time, so we were quickly out and enjoying our post flight breakfast of champagne, croissants and fresh fruits. Just as well Nic and I were finally feeling better.
Breakfast over, it was back onto the old buses and back to our hotel, arriving just in time to meet up with the group for a day of sightseeing at ground level.
Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.
Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.