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Friday, May 30, 2014

Myanmar: My Travel Notes on Yangon (Part II)

Happy to sit for a little while in this temple. 
I was able to enjoy watching the praying pilgrims.

The next day, we went to see the Chauk Htat Gyi or the Reclining Buddha. It is in this pagoda that I was able to just sit down, relax and just revel in the content faces of the pilgrims. A travel website describes this pagoda as home to a very impressive 65 meters long and 16 meters high Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha image wearing a golden robe with the right arm of the Buddha supporting the back of the head. This Reclining Buddha image is decorated with very expressive colors, white face, red lips, blue eye shadow, golden robe and red finger nails. I must say, this is a charming and a little effeminate image of the Buddha. Also, the soles of the feet of this image contain 108 segments in red and gold colors that show images representing the 108 lakshanas or auspicious characteristics of the Buddha.

This is the local guy.

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The Reclining Pagoda.

In this pagoda, I met a friendly local who showed me how to do their ritual according to their birthdate. As in any other temple, around the Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha image is a number of shrines, one for each of the eight days of the week in Asian astrology (Wednesday is split in two days) where local people pray to the shrine belonging to the day of their birth. They bathe the buddha above the animal representing their day of birth when I was there because it was Thingyan Festival.

While my friends are negotiating for the harp called Saung, the national musical instrument of Myanmar, outside the Chauk Htat Gyi, another friend and I breezed our way to the Sitting Buddha or Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda, located just a little walk across the street.


The Sitting Pagoda

The Nga Htat Gyi Buddha image is housed in a large iron pavilion. Its golden dome is topped with a multi tiered hti, an ornamental spire shaped like an umbrella. The walkway to the temple is adorned with murals, including depictions of Buddhist Hell, where sinners receive punishments for their sins. Seated on a pedestal with the back towards an ornately carved wooden screen is the very large white Nga Htat Gyi image in Royal regalia wearing a golden robe. The image which is also known as the “five storey Buddha” measures nearly 14 meters high. The Nga Htat Gyi Buddha image in the Bhumisparsha mudra of “Calling the Earth to witness” was built in 1900. An image measuring about 6 meters tall is believed to have been in the temple in the 16th century. I must say that this Buddha is similarly painted as the reclining buddha but has evident masculinity with its rounded face. The temple is also populated with old folks and has many images standing around. Upon our return to the reclining Buddha temple, our two friends happily informed us that they bought their Saung.


Botataung Pagoda.

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Pretty offerings to Buddha for sale outside the temple.


My last morning in Yangon was spent walking the street towards the Yangon River where the Botataung Pagoda is located. My friend and I risked having our morning bath from the hoses for water-splashing which we cannily evaded, only to be duped by innocent children bringing small pails of water.; we were not spared! But then, that was fun despite the fact that it spoiled my map. We did not enter the temple and contented ourselves looking around. There are truckloads of pilgrims going down to visit the temple. Some must have slept in the big truck, I surmise. We saw betel nut-chewing boys and Thanaka-kissed girls enjoying their new year festival. The flowers and offers to Buddha sold outside the temple is as vibrant as it was in any other temples we visited. As we continue our walk, we played with the pigeons along the river. Yangon river is huge and not exactly clean but they have warehouses and wharves along the riverbank.

The view of the Yangon River.

As in any other places in Asia in this region when it's summertime, the summer heat in Yangon cut our roaming hours and on top of that, the splashing of water in the major streets is also limiting our walk tours. I was not able to shop at Bogyoke market but I saw that it's a big complex area. I missed the Karaweik Palace where dinner and a cultural show was being held, I was not able to go to Khaiktiyo or the Golden Rock, just three hours drive from Yangon or the nearby histric town of Bago. I visited no museum and missed the little Yangon zoo. I missed a lot of places and this only meant that I have reasons to return.

The Pigeons abound.

Myanmar is sure ready to welcome me back, with its impressive highways connecting it to ancient cities of Bagan and Mandalay. We left out Inle lake and other small places to go but I am sure these places are surely not remote to us in the future. While there are dilapidated buses plyng around, we also saw many night buses when we were travelling out-of-Yangon which are modern. Even the people are not remote because the Myanmarese are generally nice people. Many can also manage to communicate in English too.

Fact Source:
Wikipedia, Renown-travel.com, and Shwedagonpagoda.com  

Myanmar: My Notes on Yangon (Part II)