For me, having the privilege to go to any place and share it to the world is one of the things I am most thankful to God for. When I reached Yangon (Rangoon) and meet the friendly locals, admire the temples, learned their culture and history it opened my eyes to see what travel really means to me. I travel because it enriches my knowledge and teaches me so much about life. Sharing it is like reliving the experience of being back there again. The truth is I’m not just telling the story of my travel I am also telling a part of my life when I am happy, healthy, and have an endless enthusiasm of the place or an attraction. Yangon is one of the stories I keep sharing because I find the city magical and enchanting.
From New York I endured the 18 hour Thai Airways flight that safely landed on a clear weather at the Mingaladon Airport. Once I got cleared by the immigration authorities and had my passport stamped on how many days I am allowed to visit this mystical former capital I took the rest of the day seeing the wonders of the Shwedagon Paya. Travelling to the capital and not seeing this pagoda that quietly sits on top of a hill is inconceivable. It is best to see its beauty in the late afternoon until sunset as the sentiment becomes so overwhelming when night falls. I go barefoot on the most prominent religious temple in Myanmar and took wonderful pictures of this pagoda that is decorated all over with gold. Here is where if found peace and took time to meditate for hours. Thousands of light illuminate this pagoda in the evening and I can’t help but feel relaxed as I observe the deep faith and respect shown by every visitors who come to this place. From here I took a taxi and asked to be taken to the National Museum. The museum occupies a very large building and once inside the dark rooms present collections that are sometimes a little heartbreaking and more oriented on the regime’s propaganda. The lion throne room was impressive. The photographs from the time of the royal family, jade carvings, and other artifacts give a nice discovery of the country.
In contrast to the other larger pagodas of the city, the Sule Pagoda is comparatively small and strategically located at the junction of the two streets in the middle of the round about. Nevertheless we were equally impressed as both temples have the same golden stupas but on a smaller scale. It is said to be more than 2000 years old and a relic of the Buddha can be found inside. At the time of my early morning visit I saw a long line of monks waiting and a large number of people giving them food of all kinds (rice, fruits, vegetables, etc.) it was a very interesting sight especially among children. I lined up around and saw the central stupa and numerous other small rooms with statues and images from the life of Buddha. Outside there are many shops selling souvenirs. It is incomparable to the large pagoda as the first one dazzles for its majesty and splendor while this one do not. This one is located in the midst of a bustling city center but I was amazed by its calm and tranquility despite the chaos outside it. I ended the day with a quick visit to the dazzling golden temple of Kaba Aye Paya. Visually appealing in gold the interiors of this luxurious temple was built and shaped in the modern style of architecture.
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I spent my undivided moments of attention to admire the relaxed and smiling Buddha conveniently lying around the spacious premises of the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda. What makes this place so interesting is the colossal Buddha itself. Observing it closely I am impressed by its imposing size and its feminine side. The eye make up and the long eyelashes are the things I find a bit obscure and a little disconcerting. The folds of the robe are great and the markings on the bare flat feet sole deserve a detailed inspection. Framed by a metal of scaffoldings and enclosed to protect it from rain and the sun this attraction stands next to a covered market and a visit to this shelter is a must. It was difficult to find the Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda as it is secluded form the other pagoda temples found on this city. I found it amidst a hangar like building and after paying a $2 entrance fee I marveled at the beautiful and impressive 72 meters long attraction. The sitting Buddha is not as popular as the reclining one and the temple is so empty of tourist. They were cleaning the head when I was there and I climbed scaffolding where they clean to have a closer look at the golden inscriptions and wings that extends from the body.
I had the chance to see an enshrined holy relic and an open temple at the Botatoung Pagoda. The holy hair is enshrined in the center surrounded by walls of gold and worshiped by its faithful locals. There is a small exhibition of Buddha’s dug from this city are now proudly displayed on closed glass cabinets. I feel this is more loved by the locals than tourists because of their much devotion and offerings that is clearly evident all around the temple. . I feel this is more loved by the locals than tourists because of their much devotion and offerings that is clearly evident all around the temple. The surrounding area has lots of shops that sell almost anything from fruits, flowers, incense, and souvenirs. Later that day I responded to an invitation for a cultural show and dinner at the Karaweik Palace sponsored by a travel writers’ group based in Yangon. I enjoyed a decent and sumptuous meal tasting all of the Burmese main dish and sweet treats plus a great spread of international cuisine as well. The two hours of ethnic and cultural presentation keep me amused as I enjoyed my samosas. Everyone was beautifully garbed in their national wear and a nice stroll around the lake holds so much photo opportunity for its quiet and serene beauty.
On my way to another sacred temple I happen to pass by another idyllic attraction along the road, the Memorial to the Forgotten War. The well manicured all green lawn and garden memorial with an imposing concrete cross structure at the center is a perfect tribute to the fallen heroes of WWII. I walked past so many unnamed tombs and honestly it strikes a nostalgic chord in my heart as my father also once served during the war. These heroes deserve a beautiful place to rest and this a perfect place for them. The welcome entrance part, the left and right portions of the memorial stands out for its well laid out presence. I felt so moved while I was there. From here I took a nine mile hike along with other tourists I made friends with to make our pilgrimage to the venerable temple place of Kyaikto (Golden Rock). When I reached it I felt so blessed to be rewarded by its beauty brilliantly shining at the presence of a dramatic sunset behind it. It was worth all the effort to get here. I spent a good two days here to enjoy my quiet moments of reflection and meditation.
My Yangon tour was a great opportunity to discover more of my spiritual side, inspired me to live a life full of good deeds and continue my passion for travel. It was a personal journey that is eye opening and spiritually uplifting at the same time.