Do I try to sleep or do I go out explore? Its 5am in the morning and somehow doing some chores has dampened the sleepiness I was feeling earlier. I just arrived from my Bus ride from Yangon and checked in at May Kha Lar Guest House in Nyaung U, Bagan and the first thing I did was do the laundry so it would dry out for the day. I lay for a few minutes on the bed but I couldn’t sleep so I took my camera bag and tripod and went out in the early morning blue.
May Kha Lar Guest House isn’t the cheapest budget option in Nyaung U but this Indian Family ran Guest House does have a good reputation to be the friendliest of the bunch which attracted me to them. Even ringing them early in the wee hours of the morning wasn’t a problem. I got a good double room for US12 a night. It has tiled walls, spacious, big bed, lots of electronic outlets, on a quiet side of the building. The guest house is on a good location with a lot of eateries and convenience stores just a few walks away.
So I went out in the dim blue morning and the air outside was cold. Some tea shops were already open and I could see a few monks already with bowls in hand heading to the direction of the nearby pagoda. A few foreigners on bikes swooshed past me, probably also headed to a good spot for sunrise. I was heading back to the bus station where I could probably hire a horse cart for the day. And I did find one and negotiated for a price of 15,000 kyat for a whole day’s tours. It’s not cheap since I’m flying solo on a horse cart. I could just get a bike but this is one way to help the people here and besides I need a local guide as well. My driver was Mime and his horse Chune.
The click-clacking of the horse hoofs went into a fast paced rhythm as we race for the sunrise. Mime knew we won’t reach the popular locations for sunrise so abruptly, he veered off the main road to a dirt path leading to a paya. “What paya is this?” I asked, he said it’s Thetyapho Paya. I had to ask Mime to repeat that. I checked my book and my maps and it wasn’t listed there. Who cares though, it looks good in the morning light. Mime hurriedly led me inside the paya and showed me the very narrow and dim passageway leading to the upper platform of the pagoda.
The immense open plain of temples and vegetation became more dramatic as the sun slowly rose on the horizon. The clouds had a playful pattern and in a distant, a number of hot air balloons head for the sky. It was wonderful and certainly shook me more awake. I didn’t mind if there wasn’t a striking foreground to play around it. There were interesting patterns on the plain and the sunrise looks marvellous.
Thetyapho Paya, even quite unknown will be remembered as my first paya sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar. The 4 Buddhas facing 4 different directions on the ground floor was also a sight to see. What a great start of the day and I’m glad I decided to start early to explore Bagan.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.