Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma (Now Myanmar)

Shwedagon Pagoda is most definitely the star of Rangoon. It is built on one the the few hills and has many steps up to the Pagoda that you must climb barefoot (even have to take socks off). The interior passages are crowded with merchants selling handicrafts, incense, kalagas (intricate cloth, beaded, sequined depictions of Burmese lore), flowers, offerings to Buddha, a riot of color. …View image… I couldn’t wait for the return down and a chance to look at some of the wares.

But that was just for starters. We came into the temple complex and were stunned into silence…”Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore….” A big golden stupa (spire) in the center rising 324 feet above the base (more than 2,500 years old), surrounded by smaller temples and statuary, …View image…each one different. Color.. and gold..and people, oh my! …View image


Shwedagon Pagoda,  Burma

We walked clockwise (approved Buddhist direction) around the complex, lost in a photographer’s dream…a Buddhist Disneyland…watching the people make their devotions and listening to blaring loudspeakers, broadcasting a monk chanting mantras and being answered by a nun.


Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma


There seemed to be no end to the unlimited varieties and workmanship in the complex. We just oohed, and stared, and clicked away. It was so impressive that we paid a return visit to Shwedagon on our next visit to Burma, now renamed “Myanmar.”


Shwedagon Pagoda details, Burma

On the way out of Shwedagon, we traded some t-shirts for a beautiful Kalaga (such a deal)…worrying if it was going to be confiscated by Customs. It wasn’t, and still hangs in our family room. (When we returned home, Neiman-Marcus was selling pillows made from kalagas for a minimum of $75 a pillow.)


Kalaga embroidery common in Asia

Exhausted by this whirlwind day, it was back to the “unusual” Thamada Hotel for some sleep? Tell me how you sleep with an air-conditioning unit chugging away, suspended by a wire over my head? I couldn’t. And a little while later, we heard some blood-curdling screams coming from Joan and Norman’s room. Joan went to take a shower (cold, of course, since there was no hot/warm water) and discovered a spider, the size of a dinner plate, sitting there. After screaming her head off and waking us all, she ran to her handy-dandy Gucci Tote, fished our a big can of RAID and proceeded to spray the spider with at least a half of the can to make sure he DIED! (I bet the Prime Minister of Malaysia didn’t have to cope with monster spiders!) Joan said that the spider must have been doing 90mph around the shower floor before actually curling up to die!

Joan and Norman promptly packed their suitcase and sat in the lobby for what remained of the night (in the dark – the electricity is cut during the night), and the rest of us didn’t sleep too well either! If this was a minor sampling of what to expect, what would Day Two bring?…..

Shwedagon Pagoda Burma

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