Bagan Archaeological Zone
Bagan Archaeological Zone is one of the most extraordinary places on the planet. Each one of our days here in Bagan is spent with cameras the ready, especially the Panasonic G85 and Mavic Pro Drone. We cant forget them.
Our taxi driver is always on time, pickup is at 9 am and we head out to the temples and pagodas. Jo Cole chooses places for us with empty spaces and few people so we can film in peace and use the drone. If officials are there Jo Cole always asks permission.
We ride through the backroads – a few electric bikes are being ridden on and fewer tourist cars with fewer still tourists. Jo Cole takes us to out of the way temples, old forgotten libraries, and small family built monuments in the cultivated fields, each with its own buddha statue.
The dusty roads and acacia scrub with the singing locusts and swirling birds are timeless. If its like this now, what has it been before? Its hard to remember to stop and take in the moods of it. The heat is ever present.
But the Queen is waiting for us. Jo Cole takes us to a restaurant in Nyaung U called ‘The Queen’. It has great food and we can take a break from the sun. He times it perfectly, each day we arrive just before everyone else fills the room.
Filming outdoors works in the morning. In the afternoon when every sane person is undercover or resting we are out there doing our thing with Jo.
Its hot. Its so hot and humid the camera lens complains about focusing and my eyes are hurting with the salty sweat. I cant see. We wipe our eyes and carry on. Water is waiting for us in the car. Jo has the air con running as soon as he sees us heading for the car, and we drop into the seats for time out. This is madness.
But making the decision to come just before the rains is letting us have free access to drone spots and quiet times in the temples, so we are happy to defer to the suns power.
Many of the main temples usually have a myriad of markets in the front carparks. At this time of the year we are free to walk unheeded to the temple entrances. A few people still sell, but not many tourists are about and so it’s slow for them.
Shoes off at the front gates of each temple pagoda and monument. Lots of shoes, so I can’t imagine the crush of them in the high season. All are usually paired off to find easily later.
The temples insides are quiet and cool. A few birds chatter and the human voices are lowered. Some walls are bare and stripped, some are explaining the lives and times and fables from the past. With glorious faded detail painted with care, and then again painted over hurriedly, and then again whitewashed out of existence … we wonder why?
Buddhas are on 4 sides. Some are new and dressed and coloured, some are soft coloured stone and wear expressions for teaching, and some are older than we can know, telling us things we have yet to hear. Every day is magical.
For us, our day is over. Coffee at the Star Beam Cafe near Tharabar Gate. They are serving real expresso and it can’t be missed.