Today I start posting photographs from my recent trip to Myanmar. All the albums are now online and can be accessed from the Myanmar page of my Photo Dharma website, but on the blog I will also offer some more personal recollections than is possible there.
It was already dark when we landed at Yangon airport and it had been naturally enough a long, long day. We got a taxi to a monastery in Yankin Township, one of the suburbs of the city, but we already knew that our friend and host Sayadaw U Sumana was not there.
Another friend was though: Ashin Indavamsa, it was he who had pointed out the new low-cost AirAsia flights to us and he had also offered to help us get around Myanmar.
After unloading our stuff and cleaning up a bit Ashin declared: Now we must go to Shwedagon. We had not planned on that at all, and we were really just intending to stay overnight and get the next morning’s flight to Mandalay, but it was my 57th birthday and it seemed like a good way to celebrate so we agreed.
Shwedagon was only about 20 minutes away by taxi and fortunately there is a lift, because I don’t think I could have walked up the stairs, which are quite extensive. We therefore very quickly found ourselves on the main platform of the pagoda.
When you go there the first time – and don’t quite know what to expect – it is something of a revelation to emerge from behind the buildings that surround the pagoda, and find oneself suddenly face-to-face with what is almost a heavenly scene: not only the huge golden pagoda itself but also the atmosphere of devotion that pervades the place.
It was really magical – and the best birthday treat I have ever had.
The size of the pagoda and the way it dominates the space around it hardly comes across in the photographs, where it sometimes even looks quite small – this is one of those places where you really have to go to appreciate it.
The pagoda is open 24 hours a day and there were plenty of people there in the early evening, although the night before, which was Full Moon night there would have been many thousands, and it would have been quite packed.
We only spent an hour and a half there as time was short and we were indeed tired, but it was a wonderful welcome to the country and presaged well for the upcoming trip.
Approachway at Night
The Pagoda Shines Forth
Shrines and Pagoda
Maha Bodhi Replica with Full Moon
Devotees at Night
Tomorrow I will post more photographs from a daytime visit we made when we got back to Yangon, along with material giving something of a history of the pagoda.