MYANMAR – The essence of oriental sweetness
Myanmar is the name to describe the homeland which the British called Burma. Visiting Myanmar is a succession of beautiful landscapes, an occasion with a different world for those who love art, nature and religion. The plane trip was long but finally we reached Yangon, the capital city. We are tired but fatigue does not stop us and we start immediately to visit the great Shwedagon Pagoda, the most important place of worship for Buddhists and symbol for the country with its huge golden dome. The weather is unsettled, rain, sun, rain, humid: it’s nice to feel the freshness of the marble under your bare feet while we look around the pagoda. So many families, so many children and many women with flowers to offer, such a mystical atmosphere!! We get up early the next morning and after a drive of about 200 km. we reach Kyaiktyio mountain, famous for the “Golden Rock” an holy place of pilgrimage for Burman. To reach the Golden Rock, situated on top of the mountain, under a torrential rain we jump on a big lorry with all other pilgrims praying and singing while approaching the holy site. The Golden Rock is huge, all covered with golden leaves and placed in balance on the mountain edge. In the middle of the Rock there is a small golden pagoda containing the Buddha’s relic. Ordinary people and monks gather to pray and make offers: fruits, flowers, incense We come down the holy mountain on foot, a long walk but pleasant and gives us the opportunity to meet and talk with local villagers It’s 6.00 am the next morning and we are already at the airport waiting for our plane. Next destination the Bagan Plain situated in the middle of Myanmar. Bagan is considered one of the most important monuments of Asian architecture. Currently only 1000 pagodas are left from the original 3000 built during 1000 and 1200AD. We are stunned by the beauty we are surrounded: this large plain on the Irrawady river covered by hundreds of Pagodas. We climb on top of one of them and wait for the beautiful sunset!!! But off we go again, our trip is long and full of emotions and by car we move towards Mandalay, the visit of the Holy mountain Popa is waiting for us. At bare feet we start our ascent, a long flight of steps to the top of the mountain. All the way long we have to struggle against the many monkeys that live the mountain and try to come up to us for food! Finally we reach the top, sweating with heat and fatigue, our feet filthy!!! We visit the temple that hosts the tutelary deity of the entire country. It has been a tough excursion but worthwhile, the panorama from the top is breathtaking! The next day in flight we reach Kengtung close to the Laos border. Here, spread in the hills, we visit various villages of different ethnic groups called “the Golden Triangle tribes”, the land of Opium Lords. On a trekking we visit three very isolated villages: these ethnic groups have preserved their traditions and beautiful costumes, in particular the Akha tribes with their caps covered with silver coins and the Ann Lisu called also “Black Teeth” for the habit to chew betel, and the Lahu. They live in the so called “Long houses” a long constructions , all together 3 or even 4 families. They do not see much tourism here: we give balloons, sweets and pens to the children but also, thanks God one of our Group is a doctor, we can help an old men not feeling well, examining him and giving some medicines. They are all very happy to take photographs with us and when we live the village they take us half way down!!! Our next destination: the Inle Lake situated in the middle of the country. We sail the lake on board of long boats. The scenery around is spectacular: the lone Intha fishermen rowing their boats moving the oar with their leg; the floating gardens in the middle of the lake where they grow all kind of vegetables; the big bow-nets hanging outside the fishermen houses; and the children waving to you from the balcony of their palafitte houses. We are close to the end of our journey. Another stop in Yangon to complete our visit: the old city, few more pagodas, some shopping. Our luggages are full……….full of all kind of souvenirs we bought around our trip but also full of happy memories of this magnificent holiday!!!!