Wednesday, June 12, 2013

[YANGON] Shwedagon Pagoda

After getting stuck in traffic for most of the day yesterday, I have come to find Yangon a bit annoying. The people are very nice, among the friendliest on this side of Asia, but the place itself... I guess I am just not used to anything that is not up to date. Ouch. Wait. That might offend some people. Well, I am not saying that Yangon will stay this way forever. It will eventually catch up but until it does, it will always seem stuck in the 90’s, at least in the perspective of some tourists who got spoiled by other westernized cities nearby. Ahem, Bangkok, ahem. Some people would argue, though, that it is there where the charm of the city lies. That time warp kind of feel. In any case, I would just recommend a day or two in Yangon. Once you have seen the Shwedagon, you are so done.

Of course there are other sites to see. You have the Karaweik Palace which is shaped like a boat on one of Yangon’s several lakes. This is the one I saw a few days back at Legoland, or at least a replica of it. My laziness meant not seeing the real thing despite the proximity to Shwedagon. Hey, it was drizzling most of the time, okay? I shouldn't get wet, lest I multiply like gremlins. You do not want that to happen, believe me. One of me is already annoying enough as it is.

Caught in a traffic jam, it took us around 45 minutes to get to Shwedagon, and so the driver asked for an extra 500 kyats, which I gladly gave him because I was satisfied with his patience. If he was a cab driver in Manila, he would have went on demanding more after a litany of commentaries five minutes after leaving the hotel.

As it was already after lunch, it was obvious that I would not be seeing anything else other than the pagoda because I was bound to leave for Bagan the next day. Sometimes you just have to man up and accept some simple facts of life such as missing out on a city tour because you chose sleep over anything else. The good thing is how I felt like I was able to get what I came here for anyway after visiting Shwedagon. Well, what could we say. That pagoda is the center of attraction here, for locals and foreigners alike.

One thing you'll eventually have to do while in Myanmar is go barefoot. Temples are considered holy ground and footwear, including socks, are not allowed. Do not ask why, just oblige and respect local traditions. Besides, you are the visitor here. Since it rained while I was touring the temple’s premises, everything seemed yucky at first, but you realize that going barefoot could actually be a liberating experience, and you'll get to enjoy it later on until that time when you have to put your socks and shoes back on. It is because of this that I recommend wearing flip flops. Easier to wear!

I guess what I like most about temples in Myanmar is the abundance of green hues. I have seen my fair share of temples on this side of the planet. The Chinese, of course, love their bright red and gold template, which becomes so commonplace after an hour or so that you could no longer look at them. There were also some green in several of Seoul’s palaces, but still overwhelmed by red. Wait, I think I am confusing temples with palaces! In any case, they are all structures that are built to impress, one way or another, right? Moving on, Kyoto has golden Kinkakuji, and a palace that is predominantly brown with splashes of green, as if built by Mother Nature herself.

However, for comparison’s sake, one need not go all the way to the northeast because the best point of comparison would be Myanmar’s neighbor, Thailand. If you have been to any of the temples in the vicinity of the Chao Phraya, then you would already have an idea what to expect once you get to Yangon. Like I said, though, I like how one can see a lot of green and gold in Yangon. Or maybe it's just a personal bias. Despite the many eye candies within Shwedagon, it's still Shwedagon that's crowned as the perennial tourist favorite. It's not hard to see why.

Standing mightily in the middle of its own self-centered universe, this pagoda has been raised to its current height by one of Myanmar’s queens. Another noteworthy trivia is that it is made of pure gold. Has anyone tried stealing and pawning it yet? Perhaps there have been some attempts, but unless they have technology akin to those used in Despicable Me for stealing and hiding national monuments, then any attempt would obviously be in vain, and hilarious to boot. It is safe to say that people who come here either do so for a) worship; or b) tourism. This applies to both locals and tourists: domestic tourists or Buddhist foreigners. I think the particular version of Buddhism practiced in this country is Theravada. As for its difference with Mahayana and other branches, do consult Wiki. Google is also your friend.

0 creature(s) gave a damn:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Detector

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review