Welcome to Myanmar

March 7, 2016

P sign

Myanmar, a country we’d both wanted to visit for years and years. Finally we were here. And it was amazing! It seemed to have a mysticism around it as we drove through the city in the taxi; shut off for years by military rule and recently opened. It definitely didn’t disappoint us as a country.

P1050531

Sophie was really sick from Phuket, she had to lie in bed for two days eating oat biscuits, when she could, and pouring sachet after sachet of electrolytes into water bottles. I wasn’t much better but I managed to make a few trips for supplies.

After those hard days we managed to make a trip out to Shwe Dagon Pagoda, pictured above and below.

P1050604

What a stunning thing! A colossal gold leafed Paya – as they call it. 112 m tall.

You can see it from most places in Yangon, it’s situated on a hill pretty much in the centre of the city. Although there are some skyscrapers going up that might block the view.

The paya is used a lot by local residents, it’s an amazing atmosphere.

P1050583

These people are praying to the specific day that they were born on, as is customary in Myanmar Buddhism.

There were lots of lines of fires to light candles in order to pray or remember an ancestor.

P1050556

The decorative aspects of this temple complex were amazing. Take a look at a few.

This one is a ‘chinthe’ which is a mythical creature that guards the temple, it’s a cross between a dragon and a lion.

P1050614

Three is a big number in Buddhism, it signifies the relationship between the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, which are the ‘Three Treasures’ of the religion. You often see three headed animals in temple complexes for this reason.

 These words are from Indian Sanskrit origin.

Buddha means the enlightened one and refers to anyone who has that status in the religion but the original Buddha who founded the religion was Gauthama Buddha – His given name was Siddhārtha Gautama.

Sangha can be translated to community, company, or association.

Dharma is more of a fascinating word that doesn’t have a direct translation to English but is considered to be close to the definition of ‘the order that makes life and the universe possible’.

P1050552

P1050549

P1050547

They also had some ancient writing scripts.

P1050551

When the sun started to set the colours were brilliant.

P1050591

Because we were both ill it was so nice to wander around atmospheric temples and breathe in the silences and reverence that go with them here in Myanmar. Buddhism is a serious past time for a lot of Burmese people.

We wandered down a few back streets to find another temple which sits on the Strand, by the river.

We found the houses pretty interesting, quite Mediterranean. In need of a lot of repairs!

P1050640

P1050628

The temple itself was lovely! It’s called the Botahtaung Pagoda.

P1050647

Like a mini Shwe Dagon, in fact all payas look like this in Myanmar.

It had a unique golden maze inside, apparently with a piece of Gautama Buddha’s hair inside. It’s famous in the country and it was built around the same time as Shwe Dagon.

P1050682

 It was actually independence day the day that we came to this temple so there were lots of families at the temple, a lovely atmosphere!

P1050662

P1050655

These women wanted a picture with Soph.

P1050680

Some really crazy Buddha statues.

P1050664

And more people praying to their day.

P1050657

A monk who lives at the temple saw us wandering around and wanted to show us the routines that they live by. The giving of thanks by watering the statues. P1050670

He was so smiley and nice, he did ask for a donation but we were only too happy to give him some money.

P1050673

Time to find something to eat, we wandered back out onto the Strand. In Asia, you see colour coordination a lot to signify being part of a group of friends or family. We thought this one was pretty nice.

P1050686

For independence day in Myanmar, children have foot races around their local area.

P1050689

P1050698

P1050700