Around 4am and half awake we layered up and hopped on our scooters. The night sky was still lingering around as we made our way down the unlit roads of old Bagan and onto the dirt paths. Guiding ourselves mostly by vague landmarks (“That tree looks familiar!”), we twisted and turned across dusty trails looking for our scenic sunrise locale. Navigating by darkness was more complex than we hoped, and a couple run-ins with native bushes and branches will attest. With our resolve diminishing and the first morning light appearing, we finally saw the emerging silhouette we were hoping for—temple #842.
When approaching, #842 certainly feels forgotten among some of the more grand structures around Bagan, Myanmar. Seemingly left as a ruin, overgrown plants, weeds, and moss covered much of the grounds and temple. There was not much around us other than some grazing fields and a few herders stirring at dawn. Our sparse company included birds beginning to chirp and light mist passing between trees. We didn’t realize how deep into the landscape we had gone until Bagan’s iconic hot air balloons flew directly above us during the sunrise, something we had only seen from afar until then.
Barely noticeable on a map shared with 2000 other numbered locations, “842" sits next to a tiny red dot, floating near the end of a small trail marker. We had come across this isolated temple the day before, and thought it would make for a perfect morning adventure. Hidden deep in the bush it got us closer to the horizon than we had thought, which provided the solitude necessary for an enchanting sunrise. We called it our Secret Temple, but we can assure you temple #842 is worth every bit of the journey to find it, especially in the pitch dark. ◆