Myanmar (Burma)

After taking some time off from traveling over the holidays, we just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia.  Although the pacing of that trip was such that we did not post during our travels, we have many stories to share.  Come along with us over the next few weeks as we sort through our photos and reminisce about these exotic lands of ancient kingdoms.

Our first stop was Myanmar.  Formerly known as Burma during British colonial times, the name was changed back to Myanmar in 1989.

img_4995

Myanmar is slightly smaller than Texas, with a population of approximately 60 million.  There are over 135 ethnic groups speaking at least 19 separate languages – – explaining why uniting the country after independence from British colonial rule in 1948 has been an elusive goal.  Myanmar was virtually closed to the outside world during the totalitarian government of the military dictatorship which seized power in the early 1960’s, and has just recently begun the slow process of transitioning to democracy and opening to tourism.

We began our visit in the largest city, Yangon, with a population of around 6 million.  There are a few scattered villas belonging to the small upper class, but there is a great gap between the rich and the poor. Most of the housing is similar to that of many other developing countries, i.e. not so great.

img_4186

Running water is not available in many areas, and we witnessed the daily water gathering at a village just across the river from the city center.

img_4203

Buddhism is the dominant religion, and pagodas are seen everywhere.  Many are “over the top” in scale or treasure.  For example, the reclining Buddha at Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda is over 200 feet long!

img_3990

img_3991

The Shwedagon Pagoda, often called the Golden Pagoda, dominates the city skyline with its grandeur.  The pagoda was started in the 6th century, and has been enlarged over the years.  Containing relics of the past four Buddhas, it is a major pilgrimage site.  The golden color is especially beautiful at sunset.  And that color is not paint, but real gold, upwards of 60 tons of solid gold plates!

img_4015

Still trying to fathom that amount of gold, we prepared to leave Yangon.  Our next stop in Myanmar will be Bagan, “city of a million pagodas.”  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 


One thought on “Myanmar (Burma)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s