Let me start by saying Burma is a very controversial country. The government currently in power is a Military Junta which stole power from the elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi 20 years ago. She was then under house arrest from that time until finally released in 2012. The government is also very unjust to it’s people. Burmese people live in fear. It is a country where anything they say or do can be held against them no matter how innocent. No one is immune to this, not even Monks as was seen in a massacre only a few years ago.
Although things seem to be getting better, for these reasons I wish you to exercise caution when visiting or deciding to visit Burma. The culture is rich and the people friendly but by visiting the country you are also ultimately supporting the government in a monetary way.
Day 1: Yangon
Day 2: Twante
Day 3: Bago
Day 4: Yangon
Day 5: Yangon
Schwedagon Pagoda– The most holy sight in Burma said to house 8 hairs of Guatama Buddha as well as several relics from other Buddhas. This is a great place to go an observe the Burmese culture. Women and children light incense sticks. Monks wander and many are hungry for English conversations. Others sit and picnic, happy to enjoy their time together.
Karawak Lake: From this lake you are awarded a beautiful view of the Shwedagon Pagoda in the distance. This lake is also home to the Royal Barge and the grounds surround the lake are covered in beautiful trees, flowers and dozens of spirit houses.
Chaukhtatgyi Paya Reclining Buddha: I saw 3 reclining Buddhas while I was in Burma and this was the most beautiful of the 3. At least 50 feet high and 100 feet long it is enormous. Housed in an open walled building, you are able to walk on all sides of the statue. Near the head Burmese give offerings and sing prayers to Buddha.
Scott Market: This Market is incredible. Very few places in the world will you be able to get such deals (like an original painting for $9!) Everything is sold here from fruit to art to jewelry, umbrellas, souvenir Tshirts, student bags and hill tribe items. There are so many different aisles that I went 3 times and didn’t go on every one. They are also very welcoming of foreigners because, due to the current governmental issues in the country they don’t get many foreign visitors.
This city is a 1-2 hour drive from Yangon. Here we were able to go to a monastery to visit monks, to another reclining Buddha and also to the Shwemawdaw Pagoda which is as large as the Schwedagon but not nearly as crowded.
A small village located on the Irrawaddy delta. To get there we had to take a boat across the Yangon river and then a 1 hour van ride to the town. In the village we first visited a market. Unlike the Scott Market this is NOT a tourist market. It was created to fill the needs of the Burmese people and not the desires of tourists. Buckets full of baby ducks sit on the street. Branches full of Bananas are available for purchase and basket weavers sit under shady shelters while they make baskets so large I could fit inside.
The Item Twante is primarily known for are it’s ceramic pots. We walked up a shady back lane to a ceramic shop where every member of the family from the children to the grandparents were spinning pots. We were then attacked by a crowed of children eager to get their pictures taken. After watching the pots be created you can go to the families shop to purchase some for yourself. I bought a beautiful ceramic vase for the equivalent of 25 cents.
On our way back to the boat we stopped at an orphanage where the children lined up to sing songs for us and we passed out candy and played games with them.