February 9, 2014
Today marks the day I start making way to catch my flight out of Myanmar and I couldn’t think of a more memorable way to depart. I awoke in Bagan, a city built in the 12th Century with over ancient 4,000 Buddhist Temples sprawled throughout the vast plains. It was near 5:30am and I was on a quest to climb one of the temples to see the sunrise. As I finally found an e-bike at a reasonable rate, I took off without a map into the dark towards the direction of the temples. The first big temple I saw and climbed, sitting roughly 4-5 stories tall. As I wanted for sunrise I kept anticipating the famous hot air balloons which are to set off at sunrise hovering over the land filled temples. I sat and I waited.. and waited.. and waited. By this time the sky was lit and there were no balloons in sight. In addition, it was so hazy that there wasn’t even The Sun to be seen in the sky. No balloons.. No Sun.. Feeling disappointed, I wondered around the square shaped temple to the opposite side to give thanks to The Maker for my time in Myanmar. As I sit speaking to Him/Her/Them/It, I relived my time over the past 26 days. I gave thanks and sincere gratitude and prayed that the elections next year are the year of liberation from decades of suffering and oppression to these wonderful people. As I came to a finish, I opened my eyes and to the left of me were 10 large, round objects growing upwards amongst the field of temples. There were the balloons. With excitement, I stood and ran to the other side of the temple as fast as I could. As I reached the other side and gazed forward, my body came to a complete stop. As my body stopped, my head kept moving forward (the way it does in films) and as it slung back to an upright position, sitting in front of me so delicately and weightlessly was the Sun in a perfect, floating circle just slightly over the horizon. I was sucker punched by beauty. I felt my chest tighten.. I literally lost my breath and there was a ball in my throat. As I stood on this holy, ancient temple, I stared onward and realized that on the other side were roughly an additional 10 balloons preparing to take flight. The song “Gong” by Sigur Rós was climaxing over my earphones with the violin orchestra exploding and I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. The hot air balloons danced with the temples for maybe an hour, soaring at different altitudes and some passing directly between the Sun and I. I walked around the temple snapping hundreds of photos while periodically taking time to simply sit, think and stare. I can’t imagine a better way to start my departure as I head back to Yangon to catch my flight out leaving, undeniably, my favorite country I have visited thus far.