By Krista Flagg, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Looking out at the hot air balloons beyond the pagodas, I was fairly certain that I had never seen a more beautiful sunrise in my life. We had arrived early that morning in Bagan, an overnight bus ride from Yangon. After stepping off the bus at 4:30am, we got in a taxi and set off in search of the perfect pagoda to watch the sunrise.

At first when our taxi driver stopped the car and told us to get out I thought it was a joke. We were absolutely in the middle of nowhere, with only dirt and minimal plants surrounding us. His flashlight lit the way down a narrow path to what looked like ruins about to fall apart any second. We removed our shoes, and climbed the steep and cramped staircase. The moment we reached the top, I understood what all our efforts had been leading towards. The view was absolutely magical; a collection of lit-up pagodas stretched out before us as far as I could see.

As the stars disappeared and the sun came into view, the scene only became more beautiful. One aspect that struck me was the lack of major buildings in Bagan. Later in the day as we zoomed around the city on e bikes, it became even more apparent how truly untouched these pagodas still are today. I am used to finding old buildings on the bustling street corners of historical city centers, not sitting out in the open waiting to be admired. I easily could have spent another month in Bagan and never tired of watching each sunrise and sunset, shoeless at the top of a dusty pagoda. Is Bagan on your bucket list yet? 

Hot air balloons over Bagan, India

Hot air balloons over Bagan, India

Scenes from the Shan region of Myanmar to Kochin, India.