On our last sightseeing day in Yangon, our morning started off….a bit rough.
The day before was a crappy day for me, literally and figuratively. We must have slept less than 4 hours or so. Although, I wasn’t at my best I was excited to see some of the magnificent sights in Yangon.
It was monsoon season and the morning started off wet. We grabbed our umbrellas and headed out to our first stop, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, Shwedagon Paya.
No visit to Myanmar is complete without a visit to this gilded temple.
Also known as, the Golden Pagoda, Shwedagon Paya enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics.
Since it was a rainy day, the top of the stupa was hiding in the clouds.
They say the best time to see it is at sunset or in the afternoon when the gold is extra bright from the sunlight or in the evening when the stupa is lit up with lights.
But to me seeing it on a cloudy rainy day, is just as sweet. It made me feel peaceful and the stupa seemed so tall and majestic that it disappeared in to the heavens.
Like all temples, one must walk in barefoot.
The floors are marble which makes it a little unsafe to walk when it rains. Many times we found ourselves slipping and sliding.
When walking into or out of the different temples, we held on to the columns and when possible walked on the green prickly rug.
Shwedagon Paya is definitely one of the wonders of the religious world.
This lovely monument is covered with hundreds of gold plates weighing 27 metric tons. The top of the stupa is encrusted with over 4,000 diamonds, the largest is a 72 carat. It also has thousands of other precious stones.
Shwedagon Paya is impressive to see in person and to hear how locals have personally donated their own jewels to adorn the stupa.
There’s a museum inside with images of the different jewels that have been donated. It is incredible the faith and the act of giving the Burmese people have.
We could have spent hours at this remarkable pagoda. It had many wonderful temples and shrines throughout the property.
We got to witness strong faith from the locals praying to Buddha or Nat statues, lighting incenses, offering flowers and honoring monks and nuns.
Historians and archaeologists believe that the pagoda was built by the Mon people between the 6th and 10th centuries. However, just like many of the other temples in Myanamar, this one has a legend to it.
The myth the locals believe is that the temple was built more than 2,600 years ago, which would make it the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world.
The legend is that two Burmese brothers met Buddha. During their meeting, Buddha gave them eight of his hairs to be enshrined in Burma.
With the help of the King and Nat Spirits, the brothers went looking for a hidden shrine that had relics of previous Buddha’s. The brothers came across the shrine at Singutara Hill, which is where Shwedagon Paya sits.
Our next visit was to Chaukhtatgyi Temple.
The construction of the temple itself is nothing special and not the usual. It’s a metal open shed-like building, a cross between a gymnasium and a concert venue. What makes it so extraordinary is that it is home to a mesmerizing 66 meter long reclining Buddha.
One of the largest in the world.
This likeness of Buddha has much details. The revered statue’s peaceful white face has glass eyes, defined eyelashes and a crown with diamonds and other precious stones. Buddha wears a gold robe with silver boarder detailing. His eye lids have blue eye shadow and his lips and nails are red.
The soles of the feet contain 108 segments that show images representing the 108 auspicious characteristics of the Buddha.
The main attraction is the reclining Buddha. However around the statue there are a number of shrines for the days of the week, Nats and Ma Thay, a holy man who is able to stop rain so sailors may have a safe journey.
We then headed out to Kandawgyi Royal Lake for a photo stop and a stroll.
This artificial lake was built by the British in order to bring clean water supply to the city.
It has a boardwalk, which runs mainly along the southern and western sides of the lake.
Unfortunately, the boardwalk isn’t in good condition and needs some urgent repairs. I wouldn’t recommend for people to walk at night or who have mobility issues.
For those who can risk the walk, the scenery is stunning and you can see the Karaweik Royal Barge from one side of the lake and from the other you can see Shwedagon Paya.
There are also shrines and water fountains scattered around the lake.
The rest of the day we spent walking around town.
Our walk took us through an Indian Quarter. Where we saw Hindu Temples and many street food stalls attended by Indian ladies wearing saris, selling different types of Indian foods.
If it wasn’t that my stomach was still recuperating, I would have gone to town on samosas, tikka and naan.
We went through the colonial area with its historical British buildings. Different streets we didn’t get to see the day before.
Lastly, we kept on walking till we came across a street market full of Burmese food stalls.
At that time, many locals were coming out of work and stopping for a bite to eat.
Anything that you could ask for was being cooked – corn on the cob, soups, intestines, sates, noodles, rice cakes, etc.
Everything looked and smelled delicious. I behaved and didn’t order anything. I didn’t want to risk it and opted to wait for a nice dinner (More about that later because it deserves it’s own post).
Our walk ended on Sule Pagoda Road, which was the end of this food stall street. Coincidentally, the same place we started off the day before. Before Burma Belly got the best of me.
The little that I got to see from Yangon is simply amazing. I could see myself there for a long period of time. I look forward to returning.