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Follow her as she prepares and partakes the "bread for the stomach" in http://beforesixdiet.blogspot.com/ . And while you are full at it, she offers you the "bread for the soul" in her travels by foot and by thoughts in http://footandfire.blogspot.com/ Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Facebook Note: Confessions of a Farm Town Addict



A screenshot of a Farm Town... (Copyright reverts to owner)


A friend sent me a text message about a grandmother who left some inheritance to her grandchild consisting of a farm with improvements and accessories. When the child asked where it is located, the grandmother gave her email address and password. My friend had a good reason to sent that specific message to me. She said, I can so relate with that joke because I am an FB-resident.

My cousin was likewise baffled by two yuppies talking casually about their farms and their harvests during meal time or during public ride. She figured out later that it was just a facebook thing. She is now hesitant to open an account as she might get addicted.

My sister swears that she does not want to follow my footsteps. She is wiser, I must admit. She saw me how two hours were “wasted” because of my designing and redesigning of the farm. Then, there comes a time when I had to rush eating dinner because I still have to harvest my potatoes and onions. But she admired me too. She is awed by my feat in memorizing the price of the seeds and the amount of my reward after harvest. She shakes her head in disbelief every time I choose one crop over the other using my math and economics. Aside from it all, unleashing my “visual art” talent is interesting too. It has become a de-stressing activity.

My love affair with Farm Town died a natural death just as it started with a natural birth. When I clicked the Farm Town application, I tried planting some grapes and then I advanced from one level to another. Then my space widened and my crops with different colors multiplied and there are tables, drums, hay stacks and animals to add to that. When I am done with the planting and harvesting, I get to meet international friends at the market. At times, I get to be hired and admire the farm of other players in real time. There was a time when I get to hire two Filipinos to harvest my crops and they ended up bitching each other because they want the monopoly of the farm. My stint as a mediator came to the rescue. Whew!

I swear. I wanted to quit early as the de-stressing evidently became a distressing case. But everyone from around the world who happens to be hired by me to harvest was admiring my plot, especially the flower bed with the word WELCOME on it. Who wants to leave the game early at that?

Then came my real life friend who happens to be a Farm Town enthusiast too who bullied me and says that my plot is boring as it not three-dimensional. I rushed to his farm and he gave me some tips but he withheld a lot of information to my disgust. I studied his style and copied them and when he returned he gave me a passing mark because it is not all realistic and has no continuity. He is such a very generous friend, indeed. (Hopefully he gets to understand that this is sarcasm). To add up to the joys of Farming, I have many virtual camera posings in my farm and of my farm and in the farms of my friends and the fun got me going all throughout too.

Well, with a thousand fruit trees consisting of mangoes, apples, lemons, cherries, bananas and more, a hundred chickens, cows, pigs, horses and all, a couple of stools and tables as well as a lot of the fences and paths and farm houses, I just have no time to remodel. My enthusiasm simply died down.

My Farm Town experience brings smiles to my face every time my sister says that she won’t start playing any of these farms as she saw how hooked I was. I continue to smile because because of that resolution I won’t have some competition in grabbing the chair in front of the pc. (February 2010)
















Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lacquerware (Yun-de) in Bagan, Myanmar


A pose with a teacup from a premier lacquerware factory in Bagan. The array of products, from teapots to jars and closets, are all handmade. The lacquer taken from a sap of a local tree is applied 8 to 16 times so that they do not fade easily. Aside from this painstaking coating of lacquer (consisting of one coat a day and then sun-dried before the next coat is applied again and the process goes on until the desired number of coating is reached).  


The lacquer.

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From a plain bamboo cup to fully coated cup.

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Each cup or piece is then etched with desired design and 
then a color is applied on each of the etched design.

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The gracious owner shows a sample of an etched big water glass.

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A cabinet is painstakingly being etched by this lady.
This explains the expensive pricing of the house.

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Another lady doing her piece.

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Pretty engravings.

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Sample of outstanding lacquer pieces.

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Yun-de is lacquerware in Burmese, and the art is called Pan yun. The lacquer is the sap tapped from the varnish tree Melanorrhoea usitata or Thitsee that grows wild in the forests of Myanmar (formerly Burma). It is straw-colored but turns black on exposure to air. When brushed in or coated on, it forms a hard glossy smooth surface resistant to a degree effects of exposure to moisture or heat.

Bayinnaung's conquest and subjugation in 1555-1562 of Manipur, Bhamo, Zinme (Chiang Mai), Linzin (Lan Xang), and up the Taping and Shweli rivers in the direction of Yunnan brought back large numbers of skilled craftsmen into Burma. It is thought that the finer sort of Burmese lacquerware, called Yun, was introduced during this period by imported artisans belonging to the Yun or Laos Shan tribes of the Chiang Mai region.

Bagan is the major centre for the lacquerware industry where the handicraft has been established for nearly two centuries, and still practiced in the traditional manner. Here a government school of lacquerware was founded in the 1920s. Since plastics, porcelain and metal have superseded lacquer in most everyday utensils, it is today manufactured in large workshops mainly for tourists who come to see the ancient temples of Bagan. At the village of Kyaukka near Monywa in the Chindwin valley, however, sturdy lacquer utensils are still produced for everyday use mainly in plain black. A decline in the number of visitors combined with the cost of resin, which has seen a 40 fold rise in 15 years, has led to the closure of over two thirds of more than 200 lacquerware workshops in Bagan. (Wikipedia)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Silk in Mandalay, Myanmar


Since Mandalay is a former capital, it is a city with streets identifies by numbers and where most schools and monastery and nunnery as well are located. Mandalay is known as sources for leather and clothing. In this series of photos, I am sharing the shots I had in a factory where they produce silk products. As in everywhere, this is one evidence of a Chinese influence.  

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Temple on top of the Pedestal Hill in Mt. Popa




             After fininshing the 900 plus steps, the first 300 with shoes and the rest is the way to the temple consisitng of 777 steps in barefoot, I realised that it is not the grandeur of the golden temple atop the hill formation that should be the goal. There is nothing spectacular in the temple perched on top of this formation. I decided that the goal should be feeling one's feet on the ground with all the dirtiness in it, breathing in the warm crisp air, enjoying the view from the top and observing the Myanmarese doing their religious ritual on various temples stationed along the way. 

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                  Southwest of Mount Popa is Taung Kalat (pedestal hill), sheer-sided volcanic plug, which rises 737 metres (2,417 ft) above the sea level. A Buddhist monastery is located at the summit of Taung Kalat. At one time, the Buddhist hermit U Khandi maintained the stairway of 777 steps to the summit of Taung Kalat. The Taung Kalat pedestal hill is sometimes itself called Mount Popa and given that Mount Popa is the name of the actual volcano that caused the creation of the volcanic plug, to avoid confusion, the volcano (with its crater blown open on one side) is generally called Taung Ma-gyi (mother hill). The volcanic crater itself is a mile in diameter. (Wikipedia)

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From the top of Taung Kalat one can enjoy a panoramic view. One can see the ancient city of Bagan; behind it to the north, the massive solitary conical peak of Taung Ma-gyi rises like Mount Fuji in Japan. There is a big caldera, 610 metres (2,000 ft) wide and 914 metres (3,000 ft) in depth so that from different directions the mountain takes different forms with more than one peak. The surrounding areas are arid, but the Mt Popa area has over 200 springs and streams. It is therefore likened to an oasis in the desert-like dry central zone of Burma. This means the surrounding landscape is characterized by prickly bushes and stunted trees as opposed to the lush forests and rivers Burma is famous for. Plenty of trees, flowering plants and herbs grow due to the fertile soil from the volcanic ash. Prominent among the fauna are Macaque monkeys that have become a tourist attraction on Taung Kalat. (Wikipedia)

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Not to mention among the goal is that to, slowly accept the fact that monkeys are residents of the mountains and it was us who interfered with their environment. ... picturesque landscape along the way, fruits, flowers, monkeys, Mt. Popa, 777 steps (or more, they say), walking in barefoot, jars of water which serve as public fountain of drinking water...

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           Mount Popa is a volcano 1518 metres (4981 feet) above sea level, and located in central Burma (Myanmar) about 50 km (31 mi) southeast of Bagan (Pagan) in the Pegu Range. It can be seen from the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River as far away as 60 km (37 mi) in clear weather. Mount Popa is perhaps best known as a pilgrimage site, with numerous Nat temples and relic sites atop the mountain. (Wikipedia)

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Many legends are associated with this mountain including its dubious creation from a great earthquake and the mountain erupted out of the ground in 442 B.C.[4] It is possible that the legends about Nats represent a heritage of earlier animist religions in Burmese countryside, which were syncreticised with Buddhist religion in 11th century. There are legends that before the reign of Bagan king Anawrahta (1044 - 1077) hundreds of animals were sacrificed here as a part of nat worship rituals. Mount Popa is considered the abode of Burma's most powerful Nats and as such is the most important nat worship center. It has therefore been called Burma's Mount Olympus.

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One legend tells about brother and sister Mahagiri (Great Mountain) nats, from the kingdom of Tagaung at the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy, who sought refuge from King Thinligyaung of Bagan (344-387). Their wish was granted and they were enshrined on Mt Popa. Another legend tells about Popa Medaw (Royal Mother of Popa), who according to legend was a flower-eating ogress called Me Wunna, she lived at Popa. She fell in love with Byatta, whose royal duty was to gather flowers from Popa for King Anawrahta of Bagan (1044–1077). Byatta was executed for disobeying the king who disapproved of the liaison, and their sons were later taken away to the palace. Me Wunna died of a broken heart and, like Byatta, became a nat. Their sons also became heroes in the king's service but were later executed for neglecting their duty during the construction of a pagoda at Taungbyone near Mandalay. They too became powerful nats but they remained in Taungbyone where a major festival is held annually in the month of Wagaung (August). Although all 37 Nats of the official pantheon are represented at the shrine on Mt Popa, in fact only four of them - the Mahagiri nats, Byatta and Me Wunna - have their abode here.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sunrise in Buledi and Nighttime at Shwezigon Paya





This is the Bule Thi (pronounced as Buledi) Temple. If one is staying in the Wetkyi-inn village in the Old Bagan area, this pretty red temple is just a small-distance hike away. This is not a major temple that is why no information on this temple is indicated in the wikipedia and it is not even in the suggested temple to visit in the tourist map of Bagan. The first three photos in this post was taken before the sunset and the next five is taken when we had a sunrise on same spot. I cannot pinpoint which of the two adjacent temple is Bule Thi but I must say that during our visit in April 2014, the sunset is good in this first photo while in the fifth photo, the adjacent and smaller temple from this one, the sunrise is pretty.

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This is my walkmate and climbmate. 
We had a great time posing in the stupas around the Bule Thi temple.

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I cannot help but mention here that this Myanmarese is the sand-painter of the painting we bought in Bagan.
I bought two painting from him consisting of landscapes of the temples and shooting trees of Bagan.

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The Left side temple is best for the sunrise view as east is there. The right side temple is great for viewing the sunset. If one is not preoccupied with still and video cameras, one can simply enjoy the going and leaving of the big round orange ball in this side of the planet. 

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The temple on the left side.

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This is walkmate during the morning walk in Bagan. 
We both inhaled the beauty and oldness of Bagan on that day.

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We were walking around before looking for dinner 
and we were able to enter this temple which I just later learned as Shwe zi gon Paya.
This is a pretty major pagoda, given the gleaming gold on it.
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The Shwezigon Pagoda or Shwezigon Paya is a Buddhist temple located in Nyaung-U, a town near Bagan, in Burma (Myanmar). It is a prototype of Burmese stupas, and consists of a circular gold leaf-gilded stupa surrounded by smaller temples and shrines. Construction of the Shwezigon Pagoda began during the reign of King Anawrahta and was completed in 1102 AD, during the reign of King Kyansittha of the Pagan Dynasty. The pagoda is believed to enshrine a bone and tooth of Gautama Buddha. Within the compound of the Shwezigon Pagoda is a stone pillar containing Mon language inscriptions dedicated by King Kyansittha. (Wikipedia)

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As in anywhere in Myanmar, the temple is busy considering the approach of the Thingyan festival,
 a Myanmarese new year celebration.
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A photo of a worshippers in Shwezigon.

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Some more photos of Myanmarese worshippers.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Myin Kabar Gu Byauk Gyi (Cave Pagoda or Love Temple)


When we reached Myin Kabar Gubyaukgyi, I posed beside the marionette,  a puppet controlled from above using wires or strings depending on regional variations, which is very popular souvenir from Bagan. Given its wide availability, I guess, there is a marionette show somewhere which we were not able to catch.

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Another Gubyaukgyi temple with the same name as the one in Wetkyi Inn is actually located in Myin Kabar, a different village. This temple is also known as the “Love Temple” following to a popular father and son story. Actually, Gubyaukgyi is also famous for a stone inscription written by four languages, where the first Burmese writing is first seen in the history. The temple featured the first transition period with curvilinear roofs often characterized as Mon architecture. There beautiful plaster carvings on the exterior walls but it is best known for colorful mural painting in the interior walls as the name comes… the great painted cave. The temple is dated to 1113, the year King Kyansit passed away and his grandson Alaungsithu ascended the throne. (www.myanmartravels.net)
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This pagoda stands close to the western side of the Mya Zaydi Pagoda near Myin Ga Bar village. It was built AD 1113 Prince Yaza Kumaya. Myin Ga Bar Gubyaukgyi pagoda is noted for a variety of artworks which ornamented it. Architecturally it belonged to the early period of Bagan. It is interesting for the fine frescoes of scenes from the Jatakas. (www.myanmartravel-gng.com)

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According to U Bo Ni, our tour guide, the UNESCO spent for the preservation of the frescoes inside this pagoda sometime in the 1980's. Since this is a cave pagoda (I just learned now), the light is limited inside and they used a bulb with long electric line which the guide tag along with him as he circles the place. I believe this limited exposure from light has contributed greatly to the preservation of the frescoes. 

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Leading the troupe in the red and purple carpet is our tour guide U Bo Ni. 
U stands for Mr. It pays a lot to have a tour guide as we understood more the history
of the temple, which we otherwise, treat as all the same...

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