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Beauty in Bagan: Sunrise Runs in Pagoda Land

Mountains overlooking Bagan.

In a word, Bagan was awakening. A four-day escape to this haven of central Myanmar was nowhere near enough. I could have endlessly explored the area’s infamous Pagodas for days. I came alive in the open air and infinite green fields of space that surrounded me. I treasured my Burmese nights of stargazing and Buddha hunting, my breezy evenings of mountain monkey photoshoots and sunset meditation, and my never-ending days of heat so high that all my body could fathom was catnapping between sips of tropical fruit juice. Yet not one of my cherished transient routines of day or night could compare to the sanctity of my sunrise morning runs.

Sunrise run pagoda views.

No degree of flowery speech can be evoked to accurately describe the beauty that appeared before my groggy eyes on each morning that my sleep-stiff feet hit the sandy footpaths. My pace lengthened and my stride quickened as the world around me wakened from light blue night to cotton-candy pink skies.

Mountain monkey photoshoots.

As birds began their morning songs, my ears perked up with amusement at nature’s music. My newly awoken eyes widened with amazement at the ball of fire in the sky that gradually snuck up from behind the shadows of pagodas, and I traced its light to the landscape behind me. The earthy exterior temple walls burned a beautiful hue of ruby red, their outlines appearing as divine gems within the field of earth that extended to infinity before me.

Sunrise run pagoda views.

I ran through these trails of splendor supremely alone in my sacred pursuit of mindful movement. Yet I was wholly surrounded by life of the leaves of grass that arose around me, of the trees that grew from the full-bodied rusty soil, of the moss that colored the pagoda rocks, of the insects that cut through the crisp air as they glided toward the now-glistening orb in the sky, of the memories of human connections throughout life that I held as impressions deep in my heart. Life around me bloomed to its splendor of day as the sun’s rays seeped into their newly nourished pores. Day was here and the world was alive.

More mountain monkey photoshoots.

Bagan was an escape well-worth exploring. I return replenished with the promise of unity in life and renewed with vigor to run towards my next destination.

Pre-sunset pagoda land.

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