Sunday, March 7, 2010

Myanmar - Mandalay

After my Myanmar breakfast of coconut soup, papaya and toast I set off for my excursion to Amarapura, about 15km to visit Mahagandayon. It's a famous monastery where more than a thousand monks live and study. We arrived just in time for their last meal of the day which is taken at 10:45am. All monks rely on donations/sponsors for their meals either by going out in the village to fill their bowls with food from the villagers or sponsors. From time to time and more often than not, individuals donate money to buy enough food for a meal for a thousand monks. On this special day a Burmese citizen who was now living in Singapore sponsored the meal and his family was with him (x25). The most amazing thing is when my guide and I were leaving, they asked us to join them for a meal after the monks ate. Kind of hesitant to accept as their kitchen which we saw earlier was not sanitized and definitely would not get an "A" restaurant rating at home. I figured what the heck, its a monastery and Buddha would not let me get sick. I didn't.

How's this for a rice pot? The procession and meal is taken in silence.

We also stoped at 200 year old U Bein teak bridge built when Amarapura was the Royal capital.

After lunch we left for Inwa reached by a short long boat ride and spent the afternoon in the countryside and another stop at a monastery by horse cart (see below). It was a bumpy and dusty ride, but an enjoyable one.

All total, visited five monasteries today. All very different.

Since it was a day past a full moon, one of the monasteries brought out for viewing an ivory replica of a temple with rubies and diamonds at the top of its spire. Amazing. It was out in the open, with no security. It was priceless. See below.

Another monastery stop was with just one monk whose sole purpose was to teach the poor children of the village. The next for its architecture.

Girl selling flower garlands. I bought one for pennies, then gave it back to her when we left to resell it again to someone else.

Took an afternoon flight (a 30 minute one) to Bagan staying at the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary hotel. My room had a view of the river and a nice patio to sit out and chill. The patio had a ceiling fan, so I didn't have to worry about mosquitoes eating me alive.

We arrived late due to a flight delay. Had a late dinner at the outdoor restaurant...a Myanmar meal. The presentation was very nice and too bad I forgot to take a picture.

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