30 July 2013

bago, part 1

i am embarrassed by how many photos i took yesterday.

we drove about two hours outside the city to bago, another city known for its gilded temples and huge buddha statues (like every other city in myanmar that's known for anything, actually). we did so much in one day, so i'm splitting this into two posts just so i can show every stop on our extensive tour.

another reason we picked bago was because apparently the road is relatively good. well, it was paved... but possibly the bumpiest ride of my life.

first up, the taukkyan war cemetery, the site of thousands of graves of soldiers who fought for the british crown during world war ii, including some burmese and indian people. i love how instead of cut flowers on each grave, there are flowers and flowering bushes growing between each grave in neat rows.

grandad found some flowers on the ground and gave them to mimi.

once again, we were stopped to take a photo with locals who find our very presence in myanmar amusing. not many westerners visit here, especially kids.

i learned from our guide that mingalaba is not traditionally used by myanmar people, who don't tend to greet each other; they simply launch into conversation. the all-purpose greeting was invented in the '90s for something to say to foreign visitors.

can't resist more market-fruit photos.

along the drive right after the cemetery, we stopped at a big local market where again people were taking pictures of us. this really wasn't a tourist destination at all. it felt like we got the real market experience - getting shoved along by passersby, learning about everything from sticky rice cakes to betel nuts, experiencing some pretty overpowering (sometimes revolting) smells.

rices and other dry goods.

quail eggs!

oh hey it's me.


a couple of flower vendors loved tiger; he got two free roses and loved the attention.

the shwethalyaung buddha was built in 994  and is considered the most beautiful reclining buddha in myanmar. at 180 feet long, it's slightly smaller than the reclining buddha we visited in yangon, but the yangon one was built in the 20th century.

(and no, i don't remember the names of each temple; that's what the guidebook is for!)

these enormous buddhas are built of bricks then covered with mortar and painted. this one had cool glasswork on the boxes near its head, and the back was a series of three-dimensional panels outlining the legend around why it was constructed.

every pagoda has a legend.

records of donations as well as offerings and decoration line the fence around the buddha.

never wont for opportunities to donate!

the buddha was left to decay for hundreds of years before being completely restored in the last fifty years. a corrugated tin roof was erected to protect the statue from this extreme climate, but unfortunately it detracts from the beauty of the buddha itself.

this adorable little monk was clearly instructed to stay put in the temple, but he was so restless and constantly wandering around.

beyond the steps is a bazaar of handicrafts and tourist souvenirs.

i also loved driving around bago and the outlining areas. it was great to finally get outside yangon and see the classic landscape of southeast asia. rice paddies, thatch-roofed houses on stilts across marshes, locals in canoes, huge oxen pulling carts, rickshaws transporting people and groceries, monasteries, teak distribution yards, and a national league for democracy office in every village.

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