Having tried a few times over the years to get to Myanmar (Burma), efforts that have been foiled by erratic river tides and street violence, we have finally made it to this secretive historic country. We made it to Yangon city, via a ride over roads that we were told were being up-graded (which meant it was ride worthy of a theme park) but it was all worth it to see this city resplendent in its Ying and Yang (as befits its name), with poverty and wealth side by side. The temples and pagodas of Buddha with their golden spires reaching to scratch the sky are amazing. gold leaf abounds alongside bare footed monks begging for food. The city centre boasts a Christian Cathedral along side a mosque and a golden pagoda….all we were told, living in harmony. (Tell that to the Rohingya people being persecuted just up the road!) a country that its previous military dictators have sold out to China (all gas, oil and even the water the river have been contracted to the Chinese, leaving little for the citizens of the country).
The Shwedagon Pagoda, although undergoing a 60 ton gold leaf ‘refit’. complete with a covering of bamboo scaffolding, was an amazing sight, surrounded with hundreds of Buddhas each in his own temple of amazing construction. It was a visit well worth waiting for. The religious significance of everything mostly by-passes me, for Buddha was a simple man seeking a simple life of meditation and peace, yet the temples and shrines set in his honour would, I believe, baffle him were he to re-appear from Nirvana.
We are here in Yangon for a further day and a half….with further adventures planned – particularly in the region of local food!