In November 2014, we visited the ancient city of Varanasi in the northern India state of Uttar Pradesh. We went out in a rowboat on the Ganges River early one morning to experience the sunrise, as Hindu pilgrims have done for centuries. We gazed east, while just to our west, the never-ending funeral pyres burned on the shore. The photo contrasts the texture of the worn paint on the boat with the smooth rippled surface of the water. The solid darkness of the water is broken by striations of sunlight reflected on the ripples created by the oar.
The Ganges at Sunrise
This photo was taken on November 19, 2014. Specs are:
On March 1, 2013, we were on board the cruise ship M/S Domina Prestige Emilio, traveling on the Nile River. Just before 5:30 that morning, we became aware of a bright light peeking through the cabin window and parted the curtains to see the sun rising over the riverbank.
Sunrise Over the Nile
We spent this cruise looking at ancient wonders that are thousands of years old, and here was a sight that was infinitely older and even more beautiful.
This photo shows the early morning sunrise from our room in the Mountain Top Hotel in Kyaiktiyo on the day we visited the Golden Rock Pagoda. The photo shows the sun barely peeking over the mountains in the distance before the start of a glorious day.
The sun peeking over the mountains
This photo was taken on February 6, 2017. Specs are:
Canon SL1, ISO 100, f/22, 1/15 sec, 90 mm full-frame equivalent.
This photo was taken on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India, around 8 AM. We were on a rowboat like the ones shown and took the photo into the sunrise, which was opposite the funeral burning ghats on the shore behind us. The Ganges is magical at any hour, but sunrise is one of our favorite times.
Rowing on the Ganges at Dawn
This photo was taken on November 18, 2014. Specs are:
During our recent visit to Bagan, Myanmar, we arose early one morning to climb to the top of the tower next to our hotel to view the sunrise. Even though we were early, there were a dozen people there already, all shivering. With cameras on tripods or steadied against the railing, we all stood silently looking in the same general direction. Suddenly one of us saw a small change in the light on the horizon, pointed and called out “there it is,” and all cameras swung toward that light. Many pictures were taken as the sun rose, as it created an ever-changing masterpiece of light and shadow on the landscape below.
As it happens, a very popular experience in Bagan is a hot air balloon ride, floating over the thousands of temples on the plains below. Just as we on the tower waited for the sunrise, now we waited for the balloons. As little dark spots near the horizon, they were harder than the sun to spot. But they did eventually appear, just over 20 of them, floating between the tower and the sunrise.
Bagan, located near Mandalay, was the capital of Myanmar for 500 years. By the 13th Century, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries had been built there. Of these, over 2200 remain, but in various states of disrepair. Bagan is plagued by numerous earthquakes. A major earthquake occurred on July 9, 1975, damaging many buildings beyond repair. A government-funded restoration begun in the 1990s has been severely criticized. Another major earthquake last year (August 24, 2016) destroyed about 400 buildings and severely damaged more. UNESCO is assisting in current restorations.
Seeing the damaged buildings during our visit in February this year, we could only wish that we had come a year earlier. While the picture above does not suggest the recent damage, it is obvious from the ground or any elevated viewing position. Nevertheless, a visit to Bagan is a wonderful experience.