Saturday, January 31, 2015

MY MYANMAR - NORTH YANGON

"Aren't you templed out yet?" asked me a friend after the first three days in Yangon. No, I am never templed out!  There is always another temple to explore and there are many in Yangon alone. 

It took a few trips by taxi, but Taxis in Yangon are really cheap and it's not even worth to look for alternatives like buses. Taxis also have the advantage that I can leave my shoes inside the car and have the driver drop me off and pick me up at the entrance. 

Kyauk Daw Kyi temple with it's huge seated Buddha image carved from a single piece of marble is such an example to visit in Northern Yangon.  Meilamu Paya Pagoda and temple depicts the life of Buddha in various forms and colours and there were no western tourists around these two temples. 

Kaba Aye Pagoda was a bit more touristy, but mostly from Asian tourists. Here I was actually followed by a guy who "spotted" me for not wearing a "camera fee sticker" because I went in a different way. The pagoda is beautiful and hollow inside, containing the largest silver Buddha image in Myanmar. An ex-military and now government representative was so amazed that I came here to visit the pagoda that he gave me a private tour, including the guarded inner core of the pagoda with it's relics and he arranged a special blessing ceremony for me. It was quite impressive to see how the local Burmese and some visiting Thai visitors were all chanting the prayers while the relics were held above my head in front of the Buddha image. That experience alone made the whole day unforgettable!

I expected a bit more from Mahapasana, the large artificial cave which was used for the Sixth Buddhist Synode, the 2500th anniversary of Buddha's enlightenment. But it was just a big hall with empty seats where visitors can only go to the front part and look around. Still impressive though, but most tourists here just ticked the item off their list and went on. 

Two pagodas close to Kandawghi Lake were more impressive. Chaukhtatgyi Paya housed one of the most impressive and beautiful reclining Buddha images I have seen so far. And I have seen a lot of them!  And just across the street is Ngahtatgyi Paya which is as impressive with a huge seated Buddha image.  Both pagoda's were places where I spent more time just to dive into the atmosphere of local people worshipping. 

A bit of a disappointment was the final evening at Kandawghi Lake though. For one, the taxi driver had no idea where to go, despite the fact that my hotel guy told him upfront.  He circled around the southern edge of the lake and finally dropped me off at a luxury hotel, which of course had no direct access to the lake for non-guests. I had to walk quite a bit along the heavy traffic to get to the eastern entrance of the park, where I had to pay an entrance fee and a camera/video fee, only to realize that the wooden path ended after a few minutes and I was out of the park again. The spot I really wanted to get to was at the eastern end of the lake, which is a good spot for sunsets, but here I had to pay another fee for entering the area which consisted of a platform, a few benches and several restaurants. The most expensive sunset photos I have ever taken!

 
















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