Friday, June 5, 2009

Myanmar: Shwedagon before sunset and after dark

shwedagon monks on main stupaI went back to Yangon a day earlier than i originally planned, not wanting to get stuck in the historied place of Mandalay. With a week or so of the water festival making public bus transport scarce, i decided to enjoy a bit of Yangon. i figure it would also be a nice time to catch up on rest as well as a chance to revisit Shwedagon Pagoda.shwedagon bathing the buddhaThe pagoda is within walking distance from the Bogyoke Market in downtown Yangon, about 15-20 minutes at a fast clip. I opted to ride the taxi (either an 80's Toyota or Nissan vintage) since the afternoon was hot and humid (fare is around $3 or 3,000kyats). I learned a lesson from the previous visit and left when the sun was beginning its descent. I arrived when the tiles were still warm to my bare feet.shwedagon lighted offeringsA friendly guide hounded me right from the elevator entrance. Ever since a few years ago, he relates, tourists have been hard to come by. coming up, i saw the festival preparations in full swing with the stupas being repaired, cleaned and refurbished before it got dark.shwedagon paya at nightIn the fading afternoon sun, the stupas assume an even more dramatic appearance. the people didn't stop streaming. In fact, the visitors seem to increase towards the evening. another "guide" tricks me into letting me into the "secret" viewpoints to see the changing colors of the main stupa's tip for free (he later asked for a donation). But nothing can detract from experiencing Shwedagon in the evening. It's not just a spectacle but rather a beacon of prayer and faith aglow in the hot, humid, gathering darkness enveloping the city. I observe, say a prayer and leave in peace.
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