Myanmar, Quite Impossible to Capture This Mystical Place

Yangon – First stop – old name Rangoon.. City that is crumbling, and choked with traffic, but has a beacon that glimmers proudly for all to see. The huge Shwedagon Paya – some say more wealth lies within this Pagoda than at Fort Knox! My joy though was finding such comfortable, sparkly thong sandals to fit my Western sized feet at Scott Market in Yangon for just $3.00. And then there’s the handbags I came home with. Each one treasured and will be enjoyed on many more trips in the future. There’s the Yangoods one, with her exotically beautiful face and background, of the temples of Bagan. Then there’s the woven fabric one, found in the market at Bagan, which helped me bear all the extra goods found on my journey – this bag will now remain in my suitcase as an extra helper. It helped me bring home the market basket I bought, and the bamboo helmet I found at Scotts Market – reminiscent of days gone by in old Burma. Then there’s an “over the body bag’ with the sequinned sparkly motive of the Elephant, that found me at the Bagan airport. We saw so many of these very beautiful beaded, diamante sequined designs – on handbags sold at Monasteries, on fabrics sold at Palaces and markets. I was very tempted with some amazing paintings as well.. next time!

My next highlight was drifting slowly down the Irrawaddy River on our River Cruise, from Bagan to Mandalay. Two nights of peace and comfort. Most pressing engagement..? Noting life as it has happened, and still happy to report it continues to happen the same today, as it did 200 years ago – washing clothes, washing children, carrying water, yoked oxen, teak logs being transported, fishermen in long boats and pottery being made and transported. And every time one of them passes, a wave, a shout hello.

Inle Lake – Shan State – closer to the China boarder was my next highlight. The sound of the longboat engine purr, as the ‘Captain’ manoeuvres your longboat and you through the smoothest of water ways in Inle Lake Shan State, past all the houses on stilts, and the water vegetable gardens. Dragonflies darting, the auxilirating feeling of wind rushing past your ears, and the sun beating down on you. All the while, your camera doesn’t stop snapping! Finding the one legged boat rowers, was a dream! We visited the Five Day floating markets brimmed full of excited buyers and shoppers who had journey far to come and sell their provisions. Shoppers, who have also traveled from far to buy the still live fish, the freshest of organic eggs, bananas, tea leaves, pigs, sharpen knives, or just sit and enjoy a cheroot and a catch up with a good friend again.

My visit to the Golden Palace Teak Monastery in Mandalay is etched in my mind – known for its teak carvings – amazing photography was captured here, but then, the Temple we climbed up at sunset in Bagan, delivered an unbelievable memory as well. The sun dipping slowly into the horizon, and the fields filled with 100’s of Ancient Temples.

The dry dusty heat, with the flood of Acacia trees and the thousands of temples in Bagan, lives on in my heart and my mind, as will the early morning swimming in the pristine swimming pools, no crowds of tourists, feeling very spoilt and indulged.

The very special service and assistance received by each of our fabulous English speaking guides, they instilled in me, their love for their new First Lady. She’s a treasure – long live Aung San Suui Kyi and long remain unchanged, untouched, and uncluttered by tourist minds Myanmar.

The amazing hotels that I experienced.. all magnificent 5* plush, with private swimming pools, and service level that went beyond!

A major camera moment was in Mandalay at the Monestery that houses over 1,500 monks, all coming together for their once-a-day meal. In silence! First they gather outside, down a long avenue of the greenest trees. The sight of them all lined up, with their orange tangerine robes will live forever in my heart! Nobody speaks, and their plates are’nt finished! They eat only until they are full! Leftovers are given to stray dogs, and stray children, afterwards! Made me realise how totally spoilt I am!

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