In the Land of Golden Pagodas

goldenIt’s hard to know what elucidating things I can say about Myanmar, including even what to call it: Burma, its colonial moniker (my total preference) or Myanmar, the name given by the repressive military regime that took over in 1962.baby monkI only spent a week in Burmamar (as I started to call it), starting in chaotic and rather unattractive Yangon, the capital formerly known as Rangoon.

The old colonial City Hall is one of the prettiest spots in Yangon

The old colonial City Hall is one of the prettiest spots in Yangon

The old colonial City Hall -- maybe the prettiest western building in Yangon.

But this is what most of the city looks like…

...Except for the solid gold  Shwedagon Pagoda, which is like Disneyland for Buddhists.

…except for the 24 K gold Shwedagon Pagoda, which I imagine is like the Disney Castle for Buddhists.

We spent less than 24 hours in the capital, then moved on to three days in magical, mysterious Bagan with its temples built almost a thousand years ago…morning Bagan

detail of stucco

temples

morning balloons

Climbing up for a few of the sunset over the Irrawaddy River...

Climbing up with the throngs for a view of the sunset over the Irrawaddy River…

sunset beach club… and finally traveled over to beautiful Inle Lake.

two poles

The daily commute

The daily commute

Women weaving silk and lotus on the loom.

Women weaving silk and lotus on the loom.

Making lacquerware, an Inle Lake specialty

Making lacquer-ware, an Inle Lake specialty

Rowing with your feet and fishing with these big nets are an Inle tradition

Rowing with your feet and fishing with these big nets are an Inle tradition

boy fishingWith just 7 days in country, I can hardly claim to be an expert about anything Burmamar. So I thought I’d just share some images of the countryside, its beautiful people, and the things that captivated me.

A beautiful tribal girl in the market in Inle...

A lovely tribal girl in the market in Inle…

Mandalay pots that were as big as me -- and glorious!

Mandalay pots that were as big as me — and glorious!

pretty girls

Why didn't I buy some of these beauties??

Why didn’t I buy some of these beauties??

Still life with green tomato

Still life with green tomato

Everybody wears this combo of sunblock/skin lotion that's made from the bark of a local plant.

Everybody wears this combo of sunblock/skin lotion that’s made from the bark of a local plant.

The intricate craft of making a palm roof ...

The intricate craft of making a palm leaf roof …

Playing soccer on the riverflats of the Irrawaddy

Playing soccer on the riverflats of the Irrawaddy

sister & brother

Plums of every sort are a huge favorite...

Plums of every sort are a huge favorite…

Everybody chews these leaves -- the Burmese version of espresso!

Everybody chews these leaves — the Burmese version of espresso!

A typical Burmese lunch...(this is after we ate)

A typical Burmese lunch (this is after we ate)…

Making the trek for water...

Making the trek for water…

School rules..

School rules…you understand, right?

sunsetriverMingalabar, folks!orchids

21 thoughts on “In the Land of Golden Pagodas

  1. Thanks for sharing your views of what I have always felt was a mysterious part of the world–mysterious in that I know little about it.

    I do hope you hydrated well though after the climb to see the sunset.

    Enjoy your weekend Betty.

    • SD — It was a pretty mysterious part of the world, even when you are there! I wish I could say it was a really challenging climb to see the sunset, but that was true only in juggling the crowds. However, the only time I really drink a lot of water is in foreign countries, so I was hydrated to a T! Thanks for your comment!!

  2. What a great photo essay. Congratulations!
    Loved the photos of the temples and the people (the face painting is really weird), but the picture that intrigued me was the lunch “after you ate”. You barely touched the food! Was there a menu or did they just bring all that food?

    • There wasn’t a menu, this was just the tipico Burmese lunch — kind of like dim sum — with a gazillion dishes. I felt really badly, because I wasn’t that hungry AND I don’t really eat meat AND the curry/chutney dishes were really dense and spicy, so we didn’t really eat that much and I was seriously hoping that somebody in the back would finish it all off! I think the total price of the lunch was about $7. Can you imagine???

  3. Dropping by to say Hi!! love the pictures, such an interesting place! thank you for sharing once again
    Hope you, Larry and Lulu are doing great, big hugs, Vivian

  4. Incredible images, Betty. It’s always amazing to see the stunning works of art produced all over the world, no matter the living conditions of the people. Our appreciation for beauty seems to be universal.

    • Thanks, Charles — It was such a blast to be over there visiting Lulu — and hard to even imagine all the painstaking work that went into building even a single pagoda/temple — much less over 2,000 of them!

    • Wow — if you need any tips (like using a guide, making air reservations, hotels, etc.) don’t hesitate to email me! I’m full of good ideas (AFTER I made a couple dozen mistakes, of course!) … Bon Voyage!!

  5. Pingback: Yangon a minute! | backpackerlee

  6. So beautiful. Even their alphabet is beautiful. Has the government improved? Another incredible place in this world!! Lulu’s posts are fun to read! Ha! Oh to be young again!!

    • Deb — I love the alphabet so much, too! It reminds me a lot of the Laotian and Cambodian alphabet — and yes, the government has improved marginally but still has a long way to go before it’s anything approaching a democracy or an open system. I love Lulu’s posts, too — but I worry about all the partying (and the grammar!!) — SO much life in there, though!!!

      • My group of friends lived life to the very fullest. I am so glad we are still talking about crazy times today and questioning our youthful insanity!! This is what is difficult about this stage of my life, wanting to save my children from mistakes. I distinctly remember telling my mom ” I need to forge my own road and make my own mistakes!! That is how I learn best!!” Ha!! Eat my words today!!! [don’t look at my grammar!! Ha!!]

  7. Betty – were you recently there? These photos are incredible – makes me want to go – so nice to see these images after hearing all the terrible things about the country – always have to remember the news isn’t the place…thank you.

    • Yes, I was there in December with Lulu — and I’m glad you liked the photos. It’s such a controversial place, since as a tourist you weren’t supposed to go until just recently, since all the tour dollars supported the super-repressive government — but now, it’s loosened up somewhat (they’ve let Aung San Suu Kyi out of house arrest for the first time in 17 years, as of about 18 months ago) and the country has always intrigued me so I just had to go! Glad you liked the photos (but there is still a lot of violence by Buddhists against Muslims in the far reaches of the country, so that is really strange and kind of unbelievable) ….

  8. Those temples are incredibly gorgeous. They make the landscape look almost surreal. And it’s interesting to see all of the skin whiteners. When we lived in Vietnam, I took to bringing my lotions from the US, as it was hard to find them that didn’t whiten. Beautiful post, Betty.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • Thanks, Kathy!! My photos of the temples aren’t even that great — but it’s just surreal to see over 2,000 of them glowing in the sunlight — from huge, fancy temples to tiny crumbling pagodas. Lulu bought a lot of that skin/sunblock lotion — it was all of $1/bottle — but I’m not sure if it’s supposed to whiten skin or not. I know that Neutrogena has a huge line of “whitening” products (how ironic, when we’re all trying desperately to get a tan) .. and it was pretty fun because my Lulu is about as white as you can imagine … and everybody was SO envious of her pale, pale skin (which of course, she loathes!) Thanks for the comment, Kathy — LOVED the last post of your beautiful, cheerful house!

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