Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shwedagon and Golden Rock Pagoda - Trip to Land of Golden Pagoda (Final)

Mingalabar...   Sorry for the long delay for the final installment as I have been travelling.   I will just conclude this epsiode of my first ever trip to the Land of Golden Pagoda.

At the first night, we decided to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda.  We decided to walk as we were told it is nearby.  Well, later on we found out, the Shedagon Pagoda is not really that near from our hotel.  It is like 15-20 minutes good walk in not so good condition of the road pavement and badly lid street also.

We were kind of lost for a moment but start noticing there were quite some number of people walking to the direction that we think it will lead us to the Shwedagon Pagoda.  We indeed were right.  As it seems the Yangonese does visit the Pagoda for their leisure time in the evening.

In my imgaination, Shwedagon pagoda is just a one pagoda in the center of thr town.   When we arrived there, I am totally wrong.   The Shwedagon Pagoda is really a huge complex.  There at least 2 entrance to the compound.  We were in one of the entrance (East entrance??).  As like many of the Pagoda complex, the entrance is always guard by the 2 lions creature.

The entrace looks very grand and we thought this is it.  Well, later on we knows we were indeed very wrong.   As we made our way to the entrace, we found a big halls with escalators.  Indeed it is very high.  No footwear is allowed here.  There is a place for you to leave your footwear behind.   We notice many locals bring a plastic bag and put their footwear there and carry it with them.   Later on, we learn that this is the better way, so that you can exit from the other entrance rather than come back to the same place.   We also learn that it is wise to wear a sandal when you visit Myanmar especially when you will have itenerary to visit Pagoda as you need to take off your footwear.
When you reached the top part of the compound, you will start seeing so many Pagodas and many other structures.  It is a very huge compound and open space.  It is not recommended to come here in the mid-day as the floor will be hot and you have to be bear footed.   You have to pay a fee to enter as like many other Pagoda in Myanmmar.  Not sure if it is free for local.   When we left, we heard an argument from 2 gentelemens who refused to pay the entrance fee with the staff.  They said they were there in the afternoon and because it was too hot for them to walk bearfooted so they left and they came back again at night.  I really wonder if they realy have to "fight" so hard with the staff as I really think they can afford the entrace fee.
Here are some of the pictures within the compound.  It is quite crowded with locals who just hang out there to spend the night and pray.




We spend about an hour in the largest Pagoda in the country before we retreated back to hotel for dinner and call it a day.  We thought many Myanmmarese speaks English, however, this is not th case.  So it is still adviseable to bring a hotel name written in local language to give it to the taxi driver.
We need to have an early night as we need to wake up quite early for a trip to the Golden Rock Pagoda.  We have arrange for the car to pick us up at 4:30am.  However, we oversleep and the journey only start about 6:00 am in the morning.   The journey to Kyaikto which is about 180 km from Yangon take about 3-4 hours depending on the traffic conditions.  The journey was quite smooth.   We arrived at the "base camp" where we need to take truck up to the mountains.  Yes, it is a truck and you have to sit on the back of the truck.

The road to the top is really very steep.  We were told that during the rainy season there is no jorney to the top allowed as it is quite slippery.  This is why there is local saying if you manage to go up 3 times, whatever praying you ask will be fullfilled.  I do not see why it is a big deal until I realize it on how "challenging" to go up and I do not think I will do this again in my life :)

On the way up for some miscommunication, we decided to just pay the normal K3,000 and sit on the back of the truck.  However, on the way down, after experiencing it, we decided to agreed for K6,000/person to sit on the front (i.e. the proper seat in the truck) and we think it is worth to pay double the amount.  We were even thinking even if we have to pay K10,000/person, we will pay it :)

This is how steeps is the street taken when we went down.

And this is our truck that we took on our way down and we decided to pay extra to seat on the front rather at the back of the truck. 
The Golden Rock Pagoda is quite small however it is hangging by the clift.   This is why the Buddhist believe that this Pagoda has Budha hair that keep it hanging. Again, when you visted the compound you have to take off your shoes and walk in barefoot.  It can be very hot and make your feet dirty. 

Many local normally will stay for a night so that they can pray multiple times in a days.  Hence, you see on the picture above many people carry "luggage".  There are many motels around the compound that you can choose if you decide to stay over night.  Some has even a wifi facilities.

For foreigner, you need to pay for the entrace fee and like other Pagoda in the country, it is administed by the government.

Here are some pictures from the top to give you some appreciation on how "difficult" to get there.

On the way back to Yangon, the driver made a stop on the city of Bago to visit anothe temple.  I guess the temple should be quite famous.   Here are some of the pictures.


On the 3rd day, we do not do much.  We visited the Bogyoke (General) Aung San museum which was the former house of him.  Nothing much there, but the insteresting part is that the area seems quite a wealthy area in Yangon.

Here are some of the picture of General Aung San house.

And here are some of his rich neighbours in the area

We later on continue to visit the newest mall in Yangon, Junction Square mall, which does not make you feel like you are in a very close country like Myanmar.  You feel like you are in Malaysia and Thailand town, if you do not see people wear Sarong (longji as the local called it).

At the last night, we decided to hang out at Chinatown which was quite lively.

This will conclude my first trip to Yangon.    I hope you enjoy it.

chei-zu-te  (Thank you)!!!