Bring crisp us$20 bills which can exchanged into local money. Any bill with the slightest rip or blemish will not be accepted by a bank. The locals use their own KYAT currency. Make sure to have small bills for buying local stuff. THESE PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE A LOT OF MONEY FOR CHANGING BIG BILLS. Credit card machines, outside of hotel lobbies, are like unicorns.
Want to make a kids day? HAVE SOME CANDY, BALLOONS OR PENCILS IN YOUR BACK PACK and be rewarded with the biggest smiles in your life.
We stayed in 2 hotels
The Kandagyi Palace has a definite international feel to it but the pool area is a little disappointing.
We passed on the Gem Museum tour as I hate anything that involves a sales pitch.
We did go see Chauk Htat Kyee reclining Buddha which is from 1907 and is 72 meters long.
|A little heavy on the eye shadow and lip gloss me thinks!|
One of the highlights of Yangon was our visit to a Buddhist orphanage. The look of contentment and non attachment of these boys and girls faces beats any look on a statue of Buddha.
|HURRY UP, WE ARE STARVING.|
The baby monks get an education and food until they turn 18, at which time they can take their monk vows or return into the world. The monks wear shades of red while the nuns wear pink. With shaved heads it is impossible to tell the sexes apart. These little guys stood there for fifteen minutes, no talking, no fidgeting until the head monk appeared and was served first. Then the monks (babies first) were served followed by the nuns. This was a special feast put on by the locals to celebrate the end of school exam season, otherwise the monks go door to door begging for their food. They each had 1 bowl into which everything went. Not the most pleasant way to enjoy a meal but I am sure they were very happy. We did make a donation to a man who asked us. He said he was a teacher at the school but I harbor a doubt that he may have pocketed the money......maybe it is just the paranoid New Yorker in me.
Late afternoon it was off to Swedagon Pagoda. Worshipers were leaving cakes for Buddha. I though about stealing them and going back to give them to my little monk friends.
This Pagoda reminded me of Bangkok temples. Mucho gold and bling. Viva Las Vegas.
|true bliss in meditation|
|ANANDA TEMPLE COMPLETED IN 1091.|
ANANDA PAHTO, with its Hindu influence and its stern looking Buddha which through a trick of light begins to smile as you back away from the stern look.
|MONK SHIN ARAHAN|
|SOUTH FACING BUDDHA AT ANANDA|
These frescoes have recently been rediscover under layers of soot from years oil burning lanterns. This walkway was pitch black it was only when our guide shun his torch on the ceiling that we saw these magnificent frescoes come to life.
|DARK SQUARE IS THE BEFORE RESTORATION VIEW.|
There are no spot lights in the Temples. This Buddha is lit naturally by to small windows that face east and west.
|BUILT BY ALAUNGSITHU MID 12TH CENTURY|
The ubiquitous sunset from the upper terrace of Shwesandaw Pagoda, built in 1057 which contain the hairs of Buddha. There really were not too many tour buses but in any event their was not sunset either due to the river haze after a very sweltering hot day. I do wish they would park the tour buses behind the temple and not in front of the sunset!
Adjacent to the SHWESANDAW PAGODA is the reclining Buddha of Shinbinthalyaung. He is located in a very low building with no electricity. The sleeping Buddha's head faces south as only the dying Buddha's head faces north.
We stayed at the lovely Bagan Hotel River View in Old Bagan. They have two 11th century pagodas on the property as seen below as well as a delightfully cool pool to rest by in the afternoon.
|view from hotel room|
|on the way to breakfast|
|RIVER VIEW FROM BREAKFAST VERANDA.|
Best sunset from the hotel with a cocktail close by.
Next morning drove to Mount Popa, home of the Nat spirits, which is situated up 777 stairs on top of a volcanic plug. To be honest, it is not worth the 2 1/2 hour drive.
|The NATS are ancient native gods, worshiped along side Buddha. They can bring good or bad fortune depending in their moods.|
|This Nat is the protector of alcoholics so one must get into his grace book by donating liquor at his shrine.|
|THE KID KEPT STICKING A STICK UP THE COW'S ASS TO KEEP IT MOVING. OW! THAT HURTS!|
|Distilling date liquor|
|Whats an iPad. He loves his transistor radio. The white face is a paste worn by kids and women to protect from sun burn.|
|5 CHILDREN ON AVERAGE GET LIFE THREATENING BURNS FROM PLAYING AROUND THE FAMILY STILL PER YEAR.|
|making date sugar, candy, liquor|
|Lets hope granny keeps this little guy away from the fire!|
We then stopped at this village. The villagers have no running water, no electricity and it was so arid, I felt like I was in north Africa and not SE Asia. This was just one dust bowl of a village.
|Living and sleeping platforms.|
At first the kids were shy but as soon as word got out that we had candy, pencils and balloon for everyone they came running at full speed an we were rewarded with the warmest smiles that i have ever seen.
|THE WATER CARRIER.|
|The small carry the smaller. No ones left behind.|