We gingerly climbed aboard our baskets which help 8 people and the pilot. In each corner of the basket 2 people had a sectioned off area with the pilot, Chris in our case in the centre with his gas cylinders and equipment. We gently took off and rose into the Bagan skies and what followed was an amazing trip over the green Bagan plains, the Irrawaddy river and the bright orange temples beautifully lit by the rising sun. After a while I stopped taking photographs and just enjoyed the views. Our landing was a little bumpy as we clipped a small tree, but it is an experience I loved and would love to do again someday, perhaps in Southern Spain around Granada, where I remember opening our hotel bedroom curtains one morning to see a hot-air balloon gliding through the blue skies over the Alhambra.
The only tacky part of the tour was a visit to a village which was obviously set up just for tourists. There was some workshops and shops set up in barns to sell jewellery locally made, but the locals carrying babies came out, others smoked their local pipes but they were all looking for money for photographs. But I suppose you have to blame tourism for this and the locals are only looking to make a living and capitalise on the tourists that arrive there.
Our final night in Bagan was a lovely touch by the tour operator Exotic Voyages. It started as a pony and trap tour through the Bagan countryside and interweaves through the rough pathways and by the smaller temples, where we stopped at one. We disembarked and looked around. Jo invited us inside and up the steps inside and we arrived on one of the outside tiers of the temple. Laid out in front of us was a high tea of food and drink prepared for us by 3 servers. It was a lovely location and we enjoyed watching the sunset while we ate and drank some lovely food in the company of our guide Jo who had looked after us so well on this part of the trip.