Sunset and Moonrise on the Schwesandow pagoda

Having seen wonderful photos of the full moon floating over a misty landscape of thousand year old temples, we chose the dates for our Myanmar trip to include a full moon… Sunrise over the Bagan plain scattered with dreamy silhouettes of half ruined pagodas was also something we wanted to witness. We did our homework and had the perfect date!! On November 6, the sun was to set at 5:30 pm and the full moon was to rise just a half hour later at 6pm. All we had to do was find a tall temple to climb that had a wide enough ledge all around to view the sunset on one side and then shift around 180° and bingo, full moon.
Our guide suggested the Shwesandaw Pagoda and took us there. There were all sorts of vehicles glommed around the access gate…electric bicycles, scooters, horse carts, minivans, buses (Bagan is getting more popular by the day) and looking up at the 5 terraces, we could see that this spiritual experience was going to be shared with a multitude. This being a temple, we left our shoes at the gate and joined other barefoot visitors swarming like ants up the very steep steps, up,up, to the best viewing spots. The temple was bristling with photography equipment, all sizes, all brands, all pointing west toward the….oops. Bummer. Masses of clouds building up on the horizon.
The sky was clear on the east side, though, so I staked out a position and set up the tripod. The dissapointing sunset had come to an end on the west side of the temple, the visitors were draining down the narrow, steep steps…skies still clear in the east, moonrise expected soon!
And then, OH NOOOO, the guardian came around “temple close now, must go” wtf. Arrrggghhh.
Navigating those high steep steps in the dark was borderline suicidal for anyone without a flashlight, ok, we folded the tripod and went down. 😦

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