Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Shwedagon Paya (Wow!)

Today was pretty amazing despite the incredible heat (100 degrees). Yangon is pretty wonderful for a big city, and as we had heard, everyone is very friendly. We are often the only westerners walking around town.

Yangon

Today we changed money at the market–the money changers only take new, crisp US dollars. They also will not accept certain serial numbers because of a rumor that North Korea counterfeited the bills. Kind of crazy.

In the late afternoon we headed for Shwedagon Paya–this is THE site for Buddhism in the world. A temple built about 1500-2500 years ago, this site is founded around 8 hairs from Buddha’s head that were brought back from India.

Shwedagon Paya

Of course, you must remove shoes and socks while at the site so everyone is hopping around on the balls of their feet. 

There are 4351 diamonds built into the structure (that’s 1800 carats according to the lonely planet) with a 76 carat diamond at the top. At night you can walk and stand in certain places and see the white, red or blue hues of the diamond.

S Paya at dusk

One hour later.

S Paya at night

Here is a picture of monks walking around the site. I talked to one monk for a while–he was one of 20 monks on a three week ‘shift’ to watch the temple at night (apparently, people are a little too zealous to get in and pray at night or think they can steal the diamonds…). He said it was a very boring job and was ready to go back to his temple.

Monks Walking

Here is a monk that came up to talk with Francie. The monks are very interested in practicing their English.

Francie and Monk

In Burma, women can study Buddha by becoming nuns. There was a troop walking around the site as well–here they are praying (I almost wrote partying) at dusk.  They wear pink instead of red/orange.

Nuns praying

Here is a Nat, or earth spirit, that had a shrine at the Paya. There are times of the year when the Burmese call up or worship the nat–but if you become possessed by the Nat you will need to be exorcised by a buddhist monk. After reading ‘Beloved’ I don’t recommend this at all.

Nat spirit

Tomorrow begins the water festival which apparently turns the entire city into one big water spraying extravaganza.

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April 11, 2007 - Posted by | burma, SE Asia, Travel

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