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Hovering over the ancient pagoda fields of Bagan

Hot Air Ballooning Company Balloons over BaganAt 6:10 o'clock I am picked up from the Golden Rock Hotel in old Bagan. Today it seems that I'm the only participant here.
The ticket I had already bought on arrival in Yangon for proud 220 Euros. No wonder the business premises of Balloons over Bagan are indeed situated in the 5-star Hotel Sedona. The security at the entrance checked my camera bag exactly - probably they are afraid of bombings.
Besides me only 4 other passengers and one of the balloon pilots are sitting in the bus. I am afraid that just today only one balloon starts, which would be bad for shooting super photos.
With the bus ov Balloons over Bagan we drive to a nearby soccer field. And there they are already being rolled out - three huge balloons in the same purple color !
Balloons over Bagan employs British pilots, one of them is to my surprise a woman. All come from Bristol, the home of Cameron Ballooning.
As helpers are at least 20 Burmese in service. While the crew is working hard, we strengthen ourselves with coffee and cake.
Every action is planned with military precision. Nothing is left to chance. Even for my body weight I am asked - how embarrassing ;o(
The burners are precisely tested and for protecting the sensitive balloon envelopes tarps are underlayed for takeoff and landing. Such care I haven't seen by other ballooning companies. But enough of praise.
Now to hurry is necessary - the Sunrise announces itself pink on the horizon. All three balloons start simultaneously.
Balloons over Bagan basket
Balloon shaddow on the Dhammayangyi Pagoda in Bagan The roaring of the gas burner seems ghostlike to us.
Per balloon 8 passengers + pilot. All locations in the big balloon basket are occupied - fully booked!
As soon as we are in the air, the sun rises above the horizon. Mists and fog lay above the wide plain Bagan's.
At low altitude we float closely followed by the two other balloons over the Shwezigon Pagoda. Viewed from the air, the huge dimensions of the golden building really get visible. The views are breathtaking !
Directly in front of us suddenly appear tall palm trees out of the ground fog. Almost I could grab a coconut with my hand.
Then we fly over my hotel Golden Rock, some early birds waving to us.
The second balloon throws for a moment his shadow in the swimming pool of the Golden Rock Hotel.
The balloon pilots continuously vary the flight altitude. Suddenly, one of the other balloons is directly below us - an impressive view.

Divergent air flows at different altitudes carry the balloons in completely different directions.
The pilot trio is perfectly attuned to each other and knows his business. One by one the balloons go down over the Dhammayangyi pagoda and throw their shadows on the huge brick pyramid. A real treat for all photographers :o))
The balloon basket is divided on the front sides into four small portions for the passengers and a major portion located in the center for the pilot and the gas bottles.
Ironically, I must share the assigned section in the balloon basket with an arrogant, disgusting American fellow with his EOS 1d equipment, which constantly bumps into me. Well - some of my photos are perhaps therefore blurred :o(

It's time to search for a suitable place to land. The pilots are in permanent contact with the control tower from Bagan Airport.
Suddenly everything has to happen very fast: cameras stow away (only the arrogant, disgusting EOS 1d American fellow ignores the instruction of pilots of course), bend your knees, clutching the holding straps tight and take landing position.
But false alarm - we land as soft as butter. Quick has lightning the ground crew came running and keeps the balloon on the earth tightly. The second Balloon touches slightly the top of a tree and touches down directly next to us.

Like magic the same burmese souvenir sellers appear on the mat. We are pleased to buy again souvenirs and postcards out of the balloon basket - groan!
Balloons over Bagan
My Balloons over Bagan certificate Nothing but getting out of the balloon basket immediately, because well chilled champagne is handed around and glasses are touched on the successfully endured adventure - the balloon baptism ceremony.

The overzealous souvenir sellers have to wait for punishment behind a makeshift cord barrier tensioned in a respectful distance. The certificates are issued quickly and at a third or fourth Glass of champagne we celebrate exuberantly happy landing.
Overall, a great experience that is worth its quite high price anyway.

By the way, if you have ever seen the endless sea of pagodas and temples from above, you can navigate much better at a horse drawn carriage ride.

Many thanks to the pilot team of Balloons over Bagan.
According to my super nice first balloon flight in Burma, I ventured a second attempt a year later. But just on that day the weather was extreme bad. All gray in gray, therefore the disappointment was big and US$ 250 down the drain. The following award ceremony with champagne was held in light drizzle and depressed mood.
Balloons over Bagan should just drive better only at really nice weather conditions or at least let the passengers the choice if they Wish to ride under an overcasted sky or prefer to wait for a sunny day :o(

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