I was particularly looking forward to today, because I was told we were going into the jungle, and I thought it would give me a very real feel of the places that my dad must have visited. However, disappointingly it wasn’t the jungle at all. It was a fairly sparse forest with quite a lot of monkeys!
If it hadn’t been for the disappointment of the jungle, which is apparently much further north, it would have been a good day. Although we had quite a long coach ride, we visited a place high up in the hills where niches have been carved in the rocks, and every niche contains some kind of Buddha (I have more photos of Buddhas than you would believe possible). It was quite extraordinary, because the Buddhas were actually carved out of the rock too – not just built externally and then added into the niches. There were hundreds of them.
There were also plenty of wild monkeys, which we were advised not to feed or touch. I have to say, I wasn’t even tempted!
After that visit and some lunch, we went on to visit a most amazing pagoda – or possibly a series of pagodas. This one was a temple (ie you can go inside it, as opposed to a stupa which is sold). Inside, there are rows and rows of tiny niches, each containing a tiny Buddha – plus several enormous ones. There are over 200,000 Buddhas in this building.
From the outside, it looked to me like something that should be at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, as you will see from the photo. I felt as if when I went in it would be a fun palace – not a place of worship.
Strangely, very few of the temples have had the feeling of a holy place. I now understand that Buddha isn’t a god, and that it is his teachings that rule people’s lives – but even so, having visited lots of ancient churches in Italy, I didn’t get anything like the same feeling of reverence here in Myanmar. Having said that, the teachings of Buddha (which I won’t bore you with now) do sound to be incredibly sensible and if followed would create a blueprint for a happy and fulfilled life, no matter what is thrown at you.
Tomorrow is our last day on the boat so I am going to opt out of the morning walking tour – I need to pack, and that’s going to be something of a nightmare! But in the afternoon, we’re back in the horse and carts – for TWO HOURS – so I’ll let you know how that goes.
I have become smitten by Burma (sorry, Myanmar) and its wonderful, friendly people who wave to tourists, give you a beaming smile as if you are more than welcome in their country. In spite of the obvious poverty and the horrendous problem they have with rubbish since the introduction of lots of plastic, they are beautiful, smiling, friendly people.