Tomorrow we fly back to Thailand to spend a few weeks so today was our final day in Myanmar. We are sad to be leaving however we had to make a point of seeing some of the sights around Yangon. As mentioned in our last post the traffic here is civil but very congested and today was no different and we did learn one interesting fact through noticing there were no motorcycles in the city. They are banned and the reason was too many people were dying in accidents so they are not allowed in the city any longer and so this explains why the roads are so congested. Our first stop was to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda. This pagoda is the most sacred in Myanmar and has a very interesting history which I’ll quote from the map they give you at the entrance. We didn’t take many pictures because it was so hot and uncomfortable. You must be barefoot when you visit any pagoda and the tile flooring was scorching in areas.
Brief history of the Shwedagon Pagoda
“In about 588 BC, Gautama Buddha obtained enlightenment and while He journeyed in seven places two merchants, Taphussa and Ballika offered Him alms-food. Having obtained eight strands of hair from Him as a blessing, they returned to Okkalapa land where they were welcomed back by the multitudes led by King Okkalapa. King Okkalapa enshrined Buddha’s hairs together and the relics of three Buddhas before him…the staff of Kakusanda Buddha, the water filter of Kawnagamana Buddha and the netherrobe of Kassapa Buddha in a ceti 66 feet (44 cubits) high which they consecrated as the Shwedagon. Because it contained the relics of four Buddhas who had attained enlightenment, it was known as Shwedagon, the Reliquary of the Four. From about 588 BC to the 14th century, the Shwedagon was maintained by 32 kings of the Okkalapa dynasty and since 1372 AD by kings Banya U, Banyayan, Banyagyandaw and others. In 1453 when Queen Shin Saw Pu (ha ha) ascended the throne she had it raised to a height of 302 feet and in 1774, King Sinbyushin had it rebuilt to a height of 326 feet.” It is a very impressive pagoda.
The pagoda is surrounded by small temples interspersed with a specific temple for a specific day of the week called “Planetary Posts”. Each post has a Buddha image and devotees will leave offerings of flowers and pour water over the Buddha and pray for good luck and good health for themselves or others. It is a good Karmic deed. Below is Joyce at her sister’s planetary post.
Drenched in sweat we cooled down in our AC taxi stuck in traffic on our way to Kandawgyi Lake to see the famous Karaweik, a concrete replica of a Burmese royal barge built in 1972. We actually thought it was a palace but it is a very nice restaurant and you couldn’t go inside unless you were going to eat there. Oh well.
Time for lunch so we asked our driver to find us a place where we could get some good Shan noodle soup. He didn’t disappoint. We stopped into the Shan Noodle House and each had a great soup. Delicious and sadly our last truly ethnic Burmese meal.
Comfortably full our last stop was Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple. The reclining Buddha inside the temple is 216 feet long and is one of the largest in Myanmar. Construction started in 1899 by a wealthy Burmese Buddhist and was completed in 1907 by a different construction company. The image was not proportioned correctly and the Buddha had an aggressive expression on its face so in the 1950’s, the old Buddha image was demolished and work began to replace the image under the supervision of a master craftsman. It is a BIG Buddha!