|The last stop of this South Asia trip is Yangon, the capital city of Burma. I actually came here for a few days when I arrived in the country before heading to Inle Lake, and then I spent another several days in Yangon at the end of my trip. All international flights to and from Burma go through this city.
I visited one major site in Yangon called Shwedagon Paya, which is a large temple complex right in the city. At 300 feet tall and covered in gold, you can see the main stupa from all over the city. The main structures were build around 1,500 years ago, and there are many smaller temples all around the site. I included a number of interesting photos of this amazing place.
The Gold seen on the stupa is made of genuine gold plates, covering the brick structure and attached by traditional rivets. Myanmar people all over the country, as well as monarchs in its history,have donated gold to the pagoda to maintain it. It was started in the 15th century by the Mon Queen Shin Sawbu who gave her weight in gold and this tradition continues to this day. Above the base are terraces that only monks can access. The crown at the tip is encrusted with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. At the very top, the diamond bud holds a 76 carat diamond.
Even though Yangon is a city, it still has a very authentic feel. Once you get a block from the hotel you are surrounded by Burmese people and culture. There are very few tourists here, and I think that is the reason the local people didn't seem to view me as a walking ATM which was how I felt in many other places. If anything, people seemed either curious or appreciative that I had gone to the trouble to visit their country. I was invited to the homes of several families, and I took a couple of them up on the offer.
I met one woman named Yiyi in an internet cafe in town. We got chatting and she mentioned she had five daughters! Then, as girls would enter the cafe, Yiyi would point and say "She is my daughter. Number 2. And they are also my daughters. Numbers 4 and 5." Ha! Yiyi invited me over for dinner, and I spent three nights with her family. Hanging out with them was a blast. The youngest daughter Anna (number 5) was a ham, dancing for me, singing, covering me in local thanaka makeup, and generally goofing around. I took the whole family to a movie which was pretty fun as well. Check out the photos and videos of Anna and the rest of the girls.
The people in Burma are extremely generous and sweet. I will definitely visit here again!