Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Stupa-fication Tour (take your shoes off at the door)

Stupa-fication – the process to visiting too many Pagodas and Temples daily, blending into each other.  The progression of traveling partners dreading to hear the whine: “just one more-we’ll never be here again!”
Ceiling decoration.

Even I can get the malaise of Stupa-fication. Bagan will take you there, there are just so many, over 2000. As a group, we choose a few of the biggest and choicest to visit on our last day. Mr. Myo is on time to deliver us to the Pagodas.

Young devotee's
Undoubtedly, the most famous, largest and shiniest Pagoda in the area is the Shwezigon Pagoda. Someone has told us that the beginning of the word “Swhe” indicates gold or golden. The Shwezigon Pagoda or the Ground of Victory, was completed 1077-1113. It is said that a rare white elephant picked the spot to build this Pagoda. Tradition has it that it has on the premisies,  a tooth and collar bone of the Buddha. (Poor Buddha, they must have chopped him up into many little pieces, as most of the big Temples we have visited here and there have relics of him). All the older Buddha’s have capes, which I like. It makes him more of a superhero.
Lovely Lady Buddha
The Swhezigon, is lovely but the nicest part for me, was the small Temple for the Lady Buddha. IT was beautiful and elegant in it’s simplicity. She stood alone with a simple silver alter and a single vase of flowers. The room was painted sky blue, with no ornamentation. The floor was laid with tiles of roses and lotus. I was reminded of what it could be to lay in field of flowers under the blue, blue sky. It was peaceful oasis in a riot of worship.
Foot Picture!
The Adanda Temple is much more of a triumph of building technology. Adanda means “buddhas infinite wisdom”. It too is ancient being built around 1090. It is an example of an airconditioned building, due to the fact is is laid out like a Greek Cross, with cross ventilation corridors in all directions. Along the four main corridors are the 4 Buddhas reincarnation. (Remember we are waiting for the 5th incarnation) Young Monks wait near the corridors, with alms buckets. For a small donation they will pose for a picture. Sometimes happy, sometimes not so much. 
Looking for Alms
Driving in Asia is best done to professionals. There are no lines, no order and the streets are lined with all sorts of vehicles (motorized and animal powered). Mr Myo unfortunately was fiddling with the radio and runs into another vehicle. This is not good for Mr. Myo, but for us is somewhat entertaining. No police are called, who knows if there is insurance here but there is a whole lot of hand waving and head slapping. Poor Mr. Myo it is his fault. Somehow, he convinces the injured party to let him take us back to our hotel. Nobody wants to inconvenience a tourist.
On the corner, near our hotel
The end of our day is spent on a buggy ride, out to the fields where farmers plow the land next to temples of little or no note. Horse carriage drivers are trained and licensed by the state. Their horses are well treated compared to horses belonging to farmers. The pecking order of the road is Pedestrians first and animal carts second but here on the sandy back roads, we are kings. As the sun sets, we arrive to a 2 story temple which has a staircase to assend to the top. We can take pictures and our horses can rest and drink deeply from the water station. 
My ride awaits.
The stairs to the top are narrow steep and lit with candles. No steps in Myanmar are equal height. The outlet at the top, is shallow and one must bend over – almost crawling out. The climb is worth it. The sun setting is lovely over the farmland surrounding us. The wind is cool after the hot day. We are all apprehensive about returning to the stairs but our chariots await to take us home in the dusk, when all the sound we hear are the clopping of hoofs, the creaking of wagon wheels and the loud chirping of crickets, signaling nightfall.

We may never get down from here.

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