|i check off a task on maddy's scavenger hunt of sorts. after all, yoga comes from buddhist practice!|
the most impressive, or at least my favorite, site we visited in bago was probably shwemawdaw pagoda.
|inside the covered temples for prayer - there are four, at the north, south, east, and west of the pagoda.|
|ringing the bell is supposed to signify that you've done a good deed. we donated money in a couple of the many giving boxes... generosity is the simplest of the three pillars of dhamma in buddhism. the other two are morality and meditation.|
|the best translation phraseology ever: if you happen upon a "spontaneous outcome of giving donation"....|
|this little boy got really excited, but i'm not sure why.|
|the center of the pagoda is actually a stupa, which means that it is permanently sealed off. apparently shwemawdaw, originally built over 1,000 years ago, houses two hairs and some teeth of the buddha, among other precious objects.|
|my mom and dad are just adorable.|
|the pagoda has been damaged by several major earthquakes. this piece fell off the top in 1917. it's impossible to imagine the scale of this cross-section just from the photo!|
our guide explained to us that depending on the day of the week you are born, you are spiritually represented by one animal and one planet. each of eight points of the compass around the stupa has its own small buddha and a specific animal. the day of the week of birth is very significant in myanmar tradition, even dictating the first syllable of one of your names!
at shwemawdaw, once you find the shrine that represents your animal, you make a wish as you pour a little cup of water three times on the head of the gold buddha and three times on the head of the gold animal statue. of course, we all had to do this ritual.
|i was born on a friday, so my planet is venus and my spirit animal is a guinea pig. my name would start with "ti," like "tida," meaning "cool water."|
|tiger and mimi were both born on saturday.|
|this buddha is like, "let me out!!"|
|grandad converts to buddhism.|
|having a laugh.|
near bago is kanbawzathadi palace, a large gold-gilded residence built for the king of the second burmese empire in 1553... and burned down fifty years later. now you can see the teak logs excavated from the site in the 1990s, and a replica palace built at the same time. no one knows whether the reproduction, based on 16th-century drawings, follows the original building closely. it's still massive, though. walking around, you have to squint to imagine that the gold paint is gold gild and that stenciled drawings on the pillars are actually intricate original designs.
|teak logs recovered from the ruins of the original palace.|
|a few meters away is the bee throne hall, which houses a smaller and less elaborate throne than the lion throne hall in the main palace.|
we made a quick stop at kyaik pun pagoda, a sculpture from 1476 of four back-to-back buddhas, each 98 feet tall.
|imitating the "four sisters."|
|if you need refreshments outside the pagoda...|
our last temple for the day was the hintha gon, a pagoda on a tall hill that supposedly was once an island where two mythological birds landed and where bago was founded. now, it's a temple with a great view, a couple buddhas... and tons of plastic decorations and led lights. it just screams "tacky!" according to our guides, all western tourists hate those made-in-china-type ornaments at buddhas and temples.
|last yoga photo! tiger thinks i'm a freak.|
|long, slippery steps.|
|making fun of my favorite photo pose.|
on the way home, we stopped at a sacred banyan tree outside yangon that, according to tradition, watches over vehicles and highways. locals back up their new cars three times in front of the tree in order to receive divine protection from accidents.
lastly, we requested to just see aung san suu kyi's house, and i'm so glad we did. it was just the gate - but even that gate is famous, and it was incredible to be there.