? Hello Burma !?
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma,? a Southeast Asian nation with more? of 100 ethnic groups which borders India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Until recently the least known nation of Southeast Asia, for half a century it remained stuck in a sort of abandonment under a despotic military government that was little visited and misunderstood. Today everything is changing as a result of recent political and social reforms and visitors from all over the world come to discover its beauties and history. The recent transition to democracy has given a breakthrough to this change thanks to the creation in 2015 of a new government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
ITINERARY AND DISTANCES:
MILAN-DOHA-YANGON 9127 km
YANGON-BAGAN 500 km
MANDALAY-AMARAPURA-PINDAYA-INLE LAKE 150 km
INLE-LOIKAW LAKE 150 km
LOIKAW-YANGON 340 km
YANGON-DOHA-MILAN 9127 km
ROUTES WITH OTHER MEANS: 150 km
After the night spent at the hotel in Malpensa, we board the Katar Airways flight to Doha in Qatar where we will make a stopover and then fly to Yangon by plane of the same company.
(Note that Katar Airways was awarded as the best airline from 2015 to 2019. The Airbus 350-1000 aircraft that hosts us costs $ 366,5 million and is at the forefront of passenger transport. board is studied with attention in every detail and the presence of an interactive TV screen pleasantly entertains the passenger.)
on December 9st
We leave at 9.40 am Italian time and after the stopover in Doha in Qatar we land in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, at 5.35 am local time. We meet our guide Zaw Min Oo who immediately makes a great impression on us. Immediately there? visual impact with the longyi the skirt worn by everyone, men and women. IS? a square of fabric, worn mainly in Burma about 2 meters wide and 80 centimeters high which is worn around the waist, and goes down to the feet. It is maintained through some folds on itself, and without knots.
After the customs practice for the? obtaining a visa which costs $ 50, we go to our hotel, the Park Royal, truly remarkable (an immense Christmas tree has been set up there), to arrange the luggage and immediately we begin our adventure in Yangon.
Yangon, aka Rangoon, isn't it? pi? the capital of the country, which since 2007? been transferred to the anonymous city? of Naypyidaw in a geographically central position, but it remains the point of departure and arrival of every trip to Myanmar. The huge city extends over 350 square kilometers and has 6 million inhabitants. Traffic ? chaotic and messy, with frequent traffic jams and slowdowns, despite the total absence of motorbikes and mopeds as with a brilliant idea, the military in power have prohibited the movement of motorcycles in Yangon, effectively limiting the movement of people and consequently avoiding organized gatherings. In Yangon? also forbidden to play the horn, this provision has the purpose? somewhat mysterious. A detail that immediately catches the eye? the tangle of omnipresent cables along the streets, leaning against wooden poles and sometimes iron or concrete?. ? however, the cultural, artistic and religious center of the country, while for the activity? government everything? been transferred to Naypyidaw.
The pagoda (? Paya?)
The term pagoda is translated into Burmese with the word paya which in turn means stupa.
In reality? the term? paya? would simply mean? sacred thing ?. In fact, the Burmese also use it for statues of Buddha, temples and places of worship in general and for a vast religious iconography that includes animals and idols object of veneration.
The paya in turn can be:
zedi - hemispherical, bulbous or bell-shaped building with no interior spaces that contains relics.
patho - square or rectangular building, basically a temple, although not always inhabited by monks
In the common sense of the term for? we can say that the term stupa means the zedi while the temple refers to the patho. The term paya, on the other hand, indicates both, but also the whole set of religious buildings that surround the central stupa.
Things get complicated when the stupa (in its meaning of zedi) is diversified into sikhara and stupa proper.
The sikhara? a curvilinear pyramid built over the sancta sanctorum, an architectural element of the Indian temple (Hindu or Jain) in the shape of a tower. In practice it represents the mountain of the gods in the Hindu temple. We find this from the th to the th century, passing from a terraced tower, to a semi-elliptical section and a stepped one.
The actual stupa instead? a monument and sacred place of Buddhist worship, often surrounded by a temple or a monastery. In practice, a hemispherical mound then surmounted by one or more? umbrellas. We find this starting from the third century. BC in the time of King Ashoka.
For monasteries, on the other hand, the term? ? kyaung ?.
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Our visit to Yangon begins
We see the Sule Paya, a small pagoda located in central Yangon, known in Burmese as Kyaik Athok Zedi, surrounded by busy streets, a market and colonial-era buildings such as the Supreme Court Building and Yangon City Hall. It measures 44 meters high and? very revered why? keeps a relic of the Buddha. Yangon? the only place in the world where he finds a large pagoda in the middle of a road roundabout, at the point where Maha Bandoola road and Sule Pagoda road meet. Undoubtedly a unique urban solution in the world. The pagoda has an octagonal plan (a rare architectural detail) and is located in the south of the city, near the confluence of the Yangon River with the Bago River. In addition to its significance as a reference point and meeting place, perhaps its most important function? trivial? as the point from which all north addresses are measured. We head towards the monument that celebrates the independence of Burma, obtained in 1948 and then we walk towards the center crossing shops, street vendors and various street foods. Say that Yangon? a giant outdoor market? the precise description.
COLONIAL PERIOD BUILDINGS
Of all the cities? of Southeast Asia, Yangon has the most? high number of buildings from the colonial era. Hundreds of late 1852th century structures remain on an area of several square miles in the city center. In 2005 the British took over much of Burma including Yangon which became the state capital and built a large number of large, imposing, majestic buildings. After the Burmese government moved? the capital in Naypyidaw in 50, many colonial-era buildings were abandoned and are now in poor condition. In order to protect Yangon's remaining historic buildings, the Burmese government established the? City Heritage List? from Yangon? which contains a large number of historic buildings, mainly schools and government buildings from the British colonial era, as well as? temples and pagodas that cannot be demolished or modified without approval. Recently ? A moratorium has been established that prohibits the demolition of all buildings of age? over years.
Now a very interesting visit:
PAGODA CHAUK HTAY GYI
Today begins the ritual of? Bare feet? but really? barefoot? or even without socks to access the pagodas! A sign warns that shoes, socks, shorts, and 'spaghetti blouses' are forbidden, i.e. blouses with thin straps!
Yangon's Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda? note for the? huge statue of reclining Buddha 65 meters long. The highly revered image? housed in a large, highly questionable design shed north of Lake Kandawgyi. The impressive image of Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha 65m long, 16m high, with a 7m face by 3m nose and 2,7cm eyes. The Buddha's right arm supports the back of the head. She has a delicate face with vaguely feminine features and decorated with very expressive colors, white face, red lips, blue eyeshadow, 50cm long eyelashes, golden tunic and red nails. The soles of the feet contain 33 segments in red and gold that show images representing the 108 lakshanas, or auspicious signs of the Buddha. Near c '? a monument with shrines, one for each of the eight days of the week in Asian astrology (Wednesday is divided into two parts: morning and evening) where locals pray there. image belonging to the day of their birth.
Anyway, for your convenience, here is the list of the days of the week, with the associated symbols:
Monday? (Moon, tiger)
Tuesday? (Mars, lion).
Wednesday? morning (Mercury, elephant with tusks)
Wednesday? afternoon (crescent moon, elephant without tusks)
Thursday? (Jupiter, rat)
Friday? (Venus, guinea pig)
Saturday (Saturn, snake or naga)
Sunday (Sun, garuda, the mythical mountain-bird of the Indian god Vishnu)
Some plaques engraved in English and Burmese contain information on Buddhism and the teachings of the Buddha. IS? There is also a mural of Buddha and a row of his followers who seem to come out of the painting. Fortune tellers and fortune tellers flock to the entrance of the shed, looking for customers to predict the future.
Lunch in a restaurant and then the wonder of wonders awaits us:
PAGODA SHWEDAGON: THE MASTERPIECE OF BUDDHISM
The jewel pi? big in the world
Shwedagon? for almost everyone the first wonder that the visitor's eyes admire upon their arrival in Yangon. Located west of Royal Lake on the 114-acre Singuttara Hill in Yangon, the Pagoda? the Buddhist site pi? sacred and impressive for the people of Myanmar and when we talk about the Pagoda we are actually referring to it? to a large architectural complex, inside which you get lost among dozens of pagodas pi? small, Buddha statues and temples reflecting the architectural era spanning nearly 2.500 years. The Pagoda? at the center of the activities? religious and community: the hustle and bustle of devotees and monks washing statues, offering flowers, worshiping and meditating. From a humble start of 8,2 meters today it rises to about 110 meters, covered with gold weighing an estimated twenty tons of the precious metal. And the top of the stupa? studded with 4531 diamonds, the pi? great of which? of 72 carats.
The whole structure is characterized by opulence and richness of details, which perfectly testify to the architectural and artistic style of Burmese culture.
But the Shwedagon Pagoda? also and above all spirituality? and faith. Inside it would be kept eight hairs of the Buddha, and every believer should make a pilgrimage here at least once in their life.
HIS OWN STORY
According to legend, about 2,500 years ago, two merchant brothers? Tapussa and Ballika? they met the Buddha on a trip to India. The Enlightened One gave eight of his hairs and told them to keep them inside a temple located in Okkalapa (modern day Yangon) at the top. of Singuttura Hill, in the same place where the relics of his three previous reincarnations were kept. Back in Okkalapa, as indicated by the Buddha, did the local ruler have a pagoda built? stupa? at the top? of Singuttura Hill to house the precious relics.
However, historians believe that the original pagoda was built by civilization. Mon in a period from the sixth to the ninth century AD
Due to the frequent and violent earthquakes, the pagoda? it has been rebuilt and enlarged several times over the centuries.
Access to the complex? guaranteed by four main entrances located at the cardinal points. We enter from the one to the north using a panoramic lift. At each entrance there are two huge statues depicting the Cinthe, a mythological figure with the body of a lion and the head of a dragon, placed to guard the complex. The path leading to the central terrace? characterized by a monumental portico (Zaungdan), served by escalators and elevators (with the exception of the eastern entrance), decorated with paintings depicting scenes of the Jataka.
The central area of the Shwedagon Pagoda? characterized by a huge terrace that includes the main structures of the complex as well as several pavilions in typical Burmese style (Tazaung). 64 minor stupas delimit the sector in which the main stupa stands, which has an imposing base with an octagonal section, around which, in correspondence with each vertex, c ?? a shrine with a Buddha image.
Every day, hundreds of worshipers go to Shwedagon Pagoda and pray at the shrine corresponding to their birthday.
The gold leaf cladding of the main pagoda began during the 40th century. In particular, Queen Shinsawbu decided to apply a quantity? of gold equal to your body weight (about kg). Subsequently, his son Dhammazedi decided to follow his mother's example but offering a quantity? of gold equal to four times your own body weight and your wife's weight?
The Shwedagon Pagoda represents a unique heritage of Myanmar by bringing together architecture, sculpture and art. the monument pi? important of Yangon and the place of pilgrimage more? sacred to the Buddhists of Myanmar. ? clearly one of the wonders of the religious world and? visible from all over the city? even at night.
The Shwedagon Pagoda complex also includes a second massive golden stupa, the Naugdawgyi Pagoda, located in the northern sector of the complex also known as The Big Brother Pagoda, in honor of the two brothers? Tapussa and Ballika? who, returning from their trip to India, wore the eight hairs given by the Buddha.
The first day ends with dinner? Exuberant and? Fantastic? in? Hotel Park Royal, including freshly selected fish cooked on the grill. Tomorrow we will be in Bagan.
on December 10st
On the left bank of the Irrawaddy River, at the foot of Mount Popa, a volcanic peak destination of ancient pilgrimages, there is a sunburnt plain dotted as far as the eye can see by over 5.000 pagodas, stupas and Buddhist monasteries, glories of the Bagan empire . Here, between 1044, the year of King Anawratha's accession to the throne, and 1287, the date of arrival of the Mongols, a splendid capital was built. The grandiose archaeological complex of Bagan (or Pagan), perhaps the most important place? attractive of Myanmar ,? what remains of over 13.000 religious buildings built at the time. Some of these are now only miserable, but evocative ruins, others have preserved their splendor intact. The temples more? important are those of Ananda, Thatbynnyu, that of Htilominlo and the Shwezigon which, with its elegant golden bell-shaped dome, became? the prototype of all the stupas of Myanmar.
The site ? been declared a Heritage of Humanity? by Unesco. Even Marco Polo was struck by the evocative beauty of Bagan, which he described with these words:? The king wanted to build these towers to celebrate his magnificence and for the good of his soul and I tell you that to see them are the most? beautiful things in the world and those of greatest value ?.
In a Myanmar Airlines ATR-42 plane, decorated with Christmas decorations, we reach Bagan. They will take our luggage directly to the hotel while we begin the visit.
First stop on:
NYAUNG OO MARKET
The real Bagan? in the north east where? located the fruit and vegetable market,? odoroso? general market "(especially in the area where they sell river fish), a maze of paths between a thousand stalls. Your visit allows you to get closer to the popular reality of the region. Full of movement and people, huge, where you can find everything from vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and various items, a lively market where locals go to do their shopping. The market is divided into two parts: the old market it is located inside a courtyard where taxis also arrive and where vans unload and load the goods and is full of merchandise: from beautiful bamboo artifacts, to fruit and vegetables. In the new one you can really find everything: rice , dried fish, eggs, fresh fish, chicken, fruit, vegetables, clothing but also goldsmith workshops. Magnificent to photograph for the colors and to admire the always friendly population. Present many adult monks and even those children, around to receive offers. Later we will talk more? thoroughly of Buddhist monks present almost everywhere. By bus we head to:
PAGODA SHWEZIGON? THE PAGODA OF GOLD OF THE ISLAND?
Square pagoda shining in gold located in the new part of Bagan towards the town of Nyaung. It was built as the pi? important shrine shrine of Bagan, a center of prayer and reflection for the new Theravada faith that King Anawarahta had established in Bagan. ? a beautiful pagoda started by King Anawrahta but was completed by King Kyanzittha (1084-1113). It was built to house one of the four Buddha tooth replicas found in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and was to mark the northern limit of the city. Note: a legend has it that if you visit all four tooth replicas in one day, you can? bring prosperity? and luck. The graceful bell shape of the pagoda became a prototype for virtually all subsequent pagodas throughout Myanmar. IS? located on three overlapping terraces with glazed plaques placed in the panels around the base of the pagoda illustrating scenes from the previous lives of the Buddha, also known as 550 Jatakas (see: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jataka_tales). In the cardinal points, in front of the stairs of the terrace, there are four sanctuaries, each of which houses a standing bronze Buddha four meters high, the last surviving images of antiquity. In addition to being classified as one of the most? ancient of Bagan, Shwezigon? known as the site where the 37 pre-Buddhist nats (spirits) were initially officially approved by the monarchy and their images can be seen in a shed to the southeast.
SOME HINTS ABOUT? NAT?
Long before the introduction of Buddhism in Burma, animism was widespread among the native peoples. One of the most popular cults? ancient in Burmese animism? precisely that of Nat. Originally, each village had its own spirits. Every tree and every field was inhabited by a local Nat. There were the Nats of the harvest, the Nats of the wind, the Nats of the rain. Most Burmese, however, revered particular Nats, recognized throughout the country for their powers. ? was so? for more? 1500 years. Today there are 37 nats who are still venerated and represent an integral part of the religious beliefs of the Burmese people, who appease and honor them with offerings of flowers, money and food, placed on special altars. According to popular belief, those who are in direct contact with Nats can heal illnesses and predict the future. Soothsayers, prophets, and healers are natural offshoots of this belief.
A short photo stop at
The name means "temple of omniscience" and its construction was begun during the reign of King Alaungsithu, about halfway through. from the 10.000th century, the building was built not far from the temple of Ananda (whose construction began less than a century earlier). The temple has an irregular and asymmetrical cross shape, the structure? based on two floors, and the main Buddha statue? on the second of these. Curious is the presence of a series of golden stupas at the corners of each terraced floor: each of them was placed by the engineers to indicate a consumption of 61 bricks. Perhaps to count the parcel to be sent to the king? The temple reaches a maximum height of 201 meters ( feet), the most? top of the area. ? one of the first double storey temples, but the layout? different from that of later double-storey temples, as if it were still an experiment in the new form.
Lunch in a restaurant and then visit to the Myint Lacquer Workshop lacquerware factory.
The first written evidence of the origin and use of lacquering in Burma? was described in a Chinese text that mentioned it as being used by the pyu gi people? from the II century a. C. to decorate. (see: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyu) Forest dwellers also use the sap of the lacquer to apply on the pots as a waterproof coating. On a? Bamboo frame? you add several layers of resin that is made to solidify In a cellar why? in the sun it would melt. The decorations are done with a pointed awl and require skill. extreme why? errors cannot be corrected. The most artifacts? beautiful (boxes, plates, bowls, jewelry boxes) are made with 24 layers of overlapping lacquer, cost a lot, and are stored in a guarded area. Lacquer processing? a peculiarity? of the artisan shops of Bagan.
We continue with a visit to the temples.
MYINKABA GUBYAUKKYI TEMPLE
It was built in 1113 by Kyanzittha's son Rajakumar, on the death of his father. Prince Rajakumar was the son of King Kyanzittha and the grandson of a monk. The temple ? in Indian style and? consisting of a large hall of the sanctuary connected to a small antechamber. The fine stucco on the outside walls? in particularly good condition while of particular interest are the well-preserved paintings inside, which are thought to date back to the original construction of the temple and are the most? ancient remains in Bagan. The temple ? typical of the Mon style since the interior? dimly lit by perforated windows instead of? open.
The Ananda temple? considered one of the masterpieces of Mon architecture. Also known as the pi? end, pi? large, better preserved and more? revered of the temples of Bagan, it was built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha. During the 1975 earthquake, sub? considerable damage but it was completely restored and in 1990, in the 900? anniversary of the construction of the temple, the spiers of the temple were gilded. There? a legend that there were 8 monks who one day came to the palace asking for alms and told the king that they once lived in the cave temple of Nandamula in the Himalayas. The king was fascinated by the tale and the monks with their meditative powers showed the king the mythical landscape of the place where they were before their arrival. King Kyanzittha was fascinated by the sight and decided to build a temple that would be the most beautiful. admired in the middle of the plains of Bagan. The structure of the temple? that of a simple corridor temple. The central square square with a side of 53 meters while the superstructure rises in terraces up to 51 meters above the ground. The access routes make the structure a perfect cross, every entrance? crowned by a finial stupa (pinnacle). In the center of the temple, four 9,5-meter standing Buddhas represent the four Buddhas who have achieved nirvana. Only the two Bagan-style statues facing north and south are original; both show the dhammachakka mudra, a hand position symbolizing the first sermon of the Buddha, the other two statues have been redone and replace those destroyed by the fires. All four have massive teak bodies, although it looks like the southern image? made of a bronze alloy. Note that if you stand near the donation container in front of the original Southern Buddha, his face looks sad while from a distance it tends to look smiling. The eastern and western standing statues are made in Konbaung or Mandalay style. A small walnut-like sphere held between the thumb and middle finger of the east-facing image is said to resemble a herbal pill and may represent the Buddha offering dhamma (Buddhist philosophy) as a cure for suffering. Both arms hang to the sides of the image with hands outstretched, an aspect unknown to traditional Buddhist sculpture. The west facing Buddha presents the abhaya mudra with outstretched hands in the gesture of "no fear". The Ananda temple festival falls on the Pyatho full moon (usually between December and January, according to the lunar calendar) and draws thousands of locals from near and far. Up to a thousand monks sing day and night during the three days of the festival.
Lunch in a restaurant then the visits continue.
IS? the structure pi? imposing of Bagan and has an architectural plan similar to the Ananda temple. It was built by King Narathu (1167-70), also known as Kalagya Min, the "king killed by the Indians". It stands on a square of 77 meters on each side and? the sanctuary pi? Bagan massif, with six monumental terraces and an imposing entrance on the east side. The bricks are wedged together without the use of mortar, with such precision that not even a pin goes through them. This architectural perfection was desired by King Narathu, and it is said that Narathu personally supervised the construction and that many masons had their hands cut off if a needle could be pushed between the bricks they had laid. But not complet? the construction why? he was assassinated before completion. Was it said that he condemned Indian rituals? and killed the Padrea, his brother and his wife an Indian princess, for this reason the father of the princess wanted revenge for his innocent daughter and sent? eight assassins and had Narathu assassinated in this very temple. The Dhammayangyi remains one of the largest buildings. singular and intriguing built in the plain of Bagan.
TEMPLE OF HTILOMINLO
Located north-east of Old Bagan,? one of the most? imposing of Bagan. It was commissioned in 1218 by the homonymous sovereign. Htilominlo was one of the five sons of the ruler Narapatisithu and the latter, in order to choose which of his sons would be the next ruler of the kingdom, arranged them in a circle and swung an umbrella that stopped. fortunately indicating Htilominlo, who could not reign being the most? young, but luck? .maybe a little? push pointed at it. The Temple was built in brick and covered entirely with stucco. It has four entrances, one on each side, located at the main cardinal points. The end top of the Temple? characterized by a Sikhara (ornamental structure typical of northern India) at the top? of which c ?? the traditional ornamental pinnacle with concentric coils (Hti) The interior of the structure? featuring a series of corridors leading to the main shrine, each of which? adorned with Buddha images.
An interesting visit:
It is still in use and is located in the center of the village of Myinkaba. Although it dates back to the second half. of the year one thousand is in excellent condition. This temple? dedicated to King Manuha, the king held captive in Bagan by King Anawrahta. Legend says that Manuha was allowed to build this temple in 1059 and who built it? to represent his suffering in living in captivity. Inside there are, on one side, three golden statues of standing Buddha and, on the other, a statue of reclining Buddha, completely surrounded by the walls in a very close way, just to give the idea of suffering in captivity and in compulsion. All the statues seem too large for the environments that house them and their cramped and uncomfortable positions represent the stress and lack of comfort that the "captive king" had to endure. However, it is said that only the reclining Buddha, in the act of entering Nirvana, has a smile on his face, proving that for Manuha only death? it was a release from his captivity.
We go to a hill on which there are small stupas from which we will witness the fantastic sunset over the valley of the temples of Bagan. Thrilling show!
Tomorrow we will be in Mandalay via Inwa, Sagaing and Mingun (280 km)
INWA-SAGAING-MINGUN-MANDALAY (280 km)
on December 11st
Together with the names of Innwa or Ava, the city? it was also called Ratnapura which means "City of Gems". In 1636, the Burmese king of Taungoo decided to move the capital to Inwa. Then, in 1752, Inwa was fired due to Mon's revolt against Burmese rule. Several years later, the king of the Konbaung dynasty defeated Monday? and reestabl? the court in Inwa. When the British occupied Lower Myanmar, after the Second Anglo-Burmese War, Upper Myanmar was popularly called the Kingdom of Inwa then, during the reign of King Bagyidaw (1819-1937), the Court was moved back to Inwa in 1823. When did he arrive? the terrible earthquake of 1839, the old imperial capital was completely damaged and was eventually abandoned. Today there are several remains of the imposing walls and other monuments of the ancient capital, such as the Watchtower, better known as the Leaning Tower, due to its inclination.
By carriage we head to Inwa. Before leaving we are literally attacked by a swarm of souvenir sellers who with a? sometimes annoying insistence they offer us their goods. Good face on a bad situation? The "P? relentless vendors follow us by bicycle! Incredible! The means of transport is not? of the pi? comfortable but we are used to how much in other nations there? We have used. The panorama that unfolds before our eyes? purely agricultural but sometimes interspersed with some white pagoda. We arrive at:
The monastery, which was built with 267 gigantic teak wood poles, has a large structure: 57 meters high and 31 meters wide. This magnificent weather-worn monastery sits amidst expansive rice paddies, with palm trees, banana trees, and thorny green bushes clustered in abundance around its shady base. The monastery? decorated with beautiful Burmese architectural works such as sculptures, floral arabesques, ornaments with curved figurines and reliefs of birds and animals, as well as? small pillars decorated on the wall.
We move to:
MONASTERY OF MAHA AUNG MYE BONZAN
Well preserved brick monastery of the Konbaung dynasty, also known as Brick Monastery,? a well preserved building decorated with intricate stucco sculptures. It was built by Queen Me Nu, wife of King Bagyidaw of the Konbaung dynasty in 1818 and while at that time it was customary to build wooden monasteries that for? they were often destroyed by fires or were heavily damaged, so this monastery was made of brick but in the same style as the wooden monasteries of its time. It has a pi? levels and its stucco decorations look like wood carvings like those of wooden monasteries. Two large Chinthes, the Burmese mythological lions, protect the entrance, as in the case of most Burmese temples and around there are numerous white stupas of different sizes topped by golden hti. The monastery was damaged during the great earthquake of 1838 and was renovated four decades later.
Right in front of the monastery c '? the Htilaingshin Pagoda, whitewashed and surmounted by a stupa covered with gold leaf; dates back to the Bagan period. It stands on a base to which? barefoot access required.
We continue towards Sagaing where we have lunch in a characteristic restaurant. SAGAING
Located on the western banks of the Irrawaddy River, facing Inwa and 21 kilometers southwest of Mandalay, Sagaing? another of the ancient capitals of Myanmar, famous for its hundreds of white, silver and gold pagodas and monasteries that dot its hilly landscape. This city? ? an important religious center, a real city? saint that hosts numerous monasteries, with more? of 6000 monks. Lunch at the Min Wun Walley restaurant which offers us a wide range of Burmese dishes. Note the hanging cigarette lighters that can be pulled over! A nice parenthesis: along the road a parade of vans packed with boys and girls who, accompanied by modern music played by giant speakers, indulge in frantic dances! Even Umberto from our group joins the dance! Another nice parenthesis: I invite a very tall Australian tourist named Mal to send a greeting to our Italy! We hope well?.
Continue to the village of Mingun.
MINGUN and the great buildings of the megalomaniac king
If it weren't for King Bhodawpaya, no one would know this village today.
In the intentions of King Bhodawpaya this was to be the largest pagoda. big in the world. According to the final project, a stupa 50 meters high was to be raised to the sky on a rectangular base measuring 70 x 150 meters. But it was badly built, putting parallel layers of bricks one on top of the other without joints n? connections able to give stability? to the huge construction. Moreover, the pagoda was left unfinished at a third of the work, why? the megalomaniac king had run out of financial resources. The final blow gave him the disastrous earthquake of 1838, which provoked? collapses and cracks in different parts of the structure, risking to reduce it to a mountain of bricks. Of the mammoth parallelepiped that remains standing today, what is striking is the grandeur? and the whiteness of the entrances. The thing that does more? impression not? the imposing and majestic structure, as much as its fragility? in the face of the power of the earthquakes that managed to? pierce it? and whose traces in the form of lightning are more? that obvious. However, it remains a very suggestive monument. Two huge lion statues had been placed near the pagoda, another example of the megalomania of King Bhodawpaya, which when intact had their heads facing the river. Today of these only the gigantic remains standing ?. ? butt ?, which everyone hurries to photograph.
Now a curiosity:
THE BELL OF MINGUN
A huge bronze bell of 90 tons and 4 meters high, still able to ring. A photo and a video memory in front of the huge? d? obligation. Do the Burmese say that? the bell pi? largest in the world, but there is a larger one in the Moscow Kremlin, 216 tons, called the "ZARINA OF THE BELLS". The Russian one for? doesn't it sound because during a fire that broke out in 1737, a large piece of 11,5 tons broke off? while he was still in the casting pit .. (??) Next to the bell groups of children hop in the hope that you will give them something: biscuits, pencils or shampoo.
Continuing the visit and you are almost dazzled by the white reflection of the large:
WHITE PAGODA HSINBYUME,
Built by King Bhodawpaya and dedicated to his beloved consort Hsinbyume. It looks like a huge whipped cream cake, but it has an incredible effect, especially in the late afternoon when the sun's rays filter through the statues on either side of the staircase leading to the top. From the top there is a beautiful view of the forest, the Mingun Pagoda and the river.
We return to Mandalay by motor ship, as the evening shadows fall on the Ayeyarwaddy River.
-? The Ayeyarwaddy River? -
The river that flows from north to south through all of Myanmar? the pi? largest in the country and the largest? important commercial waterway. Originating from the confluence of the N'mai and Mali rivers, it flows in a relatively straight line north-south before flowing through the Irrawaddy Delta into the Andaman Sea. Its basin of approximately 404.200 square kilometers covers a large part of Myanmar. After Rudyard Kipling's poem, it is sometimes called "The Road to Mandalay". Gi? in the th century, the river was used for trade and transport and having developed an extensive network of irrigation canals, the river became very important to the British Empire when it colonized Burma. The river ? still vital today, since? a quantity? considerable amount of (export) goods and traffic moves along the river and rice is produced in its delta. Source Wikipedia
During the crossing our nice guide Zaw Min Oo, equipped with audio equipment, lets himself go in a nice karaoke singing Italian songs. He then explains that he plays guitar and keyboard and loves our music very much and has learned there? Italian just listening to it. When do we land? already? night in a characteristic harbor and after we move to the? Hilton hotel, yes a Hilton! Wow! A large Christmas tree in the hall!
MANDALAY-AMARAPURA-PINDAYA-INLE LAKE (270 KM)
on December 12st
MANDALAY-The city? square
Cultural and religious capital of the northern part of the country, located along the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay was once known as the? City? gold? of King Mindon, the last Burmese ruler before the British occupation. There are many artistic and architectural attractions of the city, despite the damage suffered during the British siege and the Second World War. One of the most? interesting? Mandalay Hill, considered for centuries as a sacred area, a destination for ancient pilgrimages, as, according to a legend, it was visited by the Buddha, who would have prophesied that a great city would rise here? (King Mindon, on the occasion of the 2400th jubilee of the Buddha in 1858, wanted to follow this prophecy and therefore started the construction of the city). To know that Mandalay? the city? Burmese where there are more? monasteries (about 150) and more? monks (70-80.000).
First day in Mandalay, second city? of Myanmar (almost two million inhabitants considering the urban agglomeration) that? a city? strange, without squares n? curves, a city? square with many vertical and horizontal streets that intersect at right angles. The city? ? really bad, but it contains a quantity? of wonders and astounding treasures. The first of these we visit? there:
? at the foot of the hill overlooking Mandalay a marvel of the Buddhist tradition. The central stupa? surrounded by 729 stupas pi? small, each of which holds a carved marble table. King Mindon had all 729 kyauksa gu, the rules of the Buddhist tripitaka canon, engraved on alabaster plates. A gigantic work that required the commitment of 200 monks for months and months. The description of the site? described on a? another plate, which increases the total number to 730. It certainly deserves the title of? largest in the world? with which it is commonly presented. Between the rows of stupas grow large centuries-old magnolia trees (starflower trees), in the shade of which Burmese families often come for picnics, while the children play hide and seek among the rows of stupas. old should be 250 years old. Nearby is the Sandamuni Pagoda commissioned by the ruler Mindon Min in 1874 to commemorate Prince Kanaung, heir to the throne assassinated in 1866 by two other sons of the ruler. The splendid golden chedi represents the most beautiful structure. of the Pagoda.
Structure ? characterized by an imposing square base with three concentric levels, adorned with a statue of the Cinthe (creature of Hindu-Buddhist mythology with the body of a lion and the head of a dragon). The upper terrace of the chedi? accessible via four steep stairs? one on each side? oriented towards the main cardinal points. In the middle of each staircase c ?? a sort of ornamental door decorated on the top with a miniature of the chedi. The elevated part of the structure has the classic? Bell shape? (circular section), decorated with a series of concentric coils and the traditional ornamental pinnacle (Hti). It sounds unbelievable but the Kuthodaw Pagoda inscriptions are outclassed by the presence around the main chedi of 1774 shrines? Dhamma Ceti? each of which contains a marble stele (size 168cm in height, 107cm in width) engraved with the sacred texts of the Buddhist doctrine (Tripitaka). IS? There is also a model of the site.
An interesting visit:
SHWENANDAW KYAUNG OR? THE MONASTERY OF THE GOLDEN PALACE?
Right in front of the entrance of the university? is this very intricately decorated teak wood building that? been moved outside the park of Palazzo Reala and? the only original main building left. IS? the only monastery in which there is not? not even a statue of Buddha and? adorned with glass mosaics and intricately carved wooden structures. It used to be part of the personal apartments of the rulers, until King Thibaw decided to move it to another area. This was the fortune of the building:? the only wooden construction that you? saved from the Mandalay fire at the end of the Second World War, and thank goodness why? ? truly a marvel.
Now a particular visit:
The religious structure more? frequented by Mandalay, a sacred place that contains a dazzling statue of Buddha all in gold. The adoring devotees (only men, women do not have access to the statuary cell because they are considered impure) continually cover it with leaves of gold, to the point that now? become a kind of shiny ball in which it is difficult to distinguish the face of the? ? Illuminated ?.
The leaves are actually d? gold and one thousandth of a millimeter thick each. They can be bought for a few euros but we are very skeptical and opposed to these fanatical utterances and therefore we avoid participating in the ritual? All? alba, a group of chosen faithful gathers to lovingly polish the statue and clean its teeth with a toothbrush !. The Burmese consider it a kind of Lourdes of the East, capable of performing miracles and healing the lame and the sick. In any case, the Buddha's head emerges almost with difficulty from an extraordinarily swollen and clumsy body, not so much why? Also here ? represented fat, but why? sheet after sheet over the centuries the thickness yes? accumulated the same; and? today about 20 cm; which means that for each square that is placed l? above the others, another 20.000 have made the same gesture at that point, and considering the still gigantic surface of the statue, does this mean that at least a few million people? passed here to paste his devotional gold leaflet. Nearby c ?? a small market where we buy three characteristic puppets operated by means of wires. Do Mandalay puppets belong to a? popular art that was rapidly disappearing but luckily a private team of professional artists tried to restore it. Myanmar puppet theater (Yoke Thay) - once a treasured royal pastime -? a spectacle not only of wooden dolls manipulated by threads, but of life-like human substitutes. We will add them to those found in Uzbekistan.
Following the course of the river, we arrive at Amarapura, a pleasant town on the banks of a lake, which is distinguished by the pedestrian bridge U Bein, 1,2 km long, the longest. longest in the world and entirely made of teak wood.
AMARAPURA, the city? immortal
Founded in 1783,? was in different periods the capital under various kings, of the royal palace for? only a few ruins remain. Today ? known for its thriving textile craft that produces silk and cotton artifacts, and for its refined ceremonial longyi. In other artisan workshops, sculptures of wood and ivory are made.
The monastery, where do they live more? of 700 monks, almost all young. Located in the vicinity of Lake Taungthamam,? a renowned Buddhist school and meditation center. Open to the public, every morning numerous tourists gather to see the monks who, strictly in line, enter the monastery canteen. We arrive at 10, just in time to watch the parade of the monks who go to eat the second and last meal of the day. Access to the refectory for? not ? allowed. Some information on monastic life:
The rules to which the monks must follow are strict:
- abandon the personal name and take on a new one
- live off the offerings of the faithful, collected every morning through a round of begging. For the laity? an honor to be merciful to monks. The morning collection of alms is called? Dhana? and? a Buddhist tradition handed down for centuries. If you want you can? contribute by purchasing goods to offer to the monks. It is said that ? a unique opportunity. Do you acquire merit along the path to nirvana with dhana?
- wake up at 4
- breakfast at 5 and meal at 10.30
- eat in absolute silence and never after 11
- do not have anything personal: only the tunics, the alms bowl (thabeit), the food filter so as not to ingest any living being, a razor, a fan or umbrella, a pair of slippers
- do not steal, do not kill, do not exercise magic, practice sexual abstinence
- devote the afternoon and evening hours to reading sacred texts and praying (but it is not forbidden to read the newspaper, as does the monk in the photo)
- never wash against the current in rivers (apparently strange rule that is needed for
maintenance of sexual aaraxia)
- sleep on the floor
The rules apply to both men and women.
Here we are now at the pi? great attraction of Amarapura:
THE U-BEIN PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE
1,2 km long and built entirely of teak wood, on 1050 4 meter high poles, it connects the village to the squat Kyauktawgyi pagoda on the other side of Lake Taunghtaman. The bridge ? a meeting place for inhabitants and visitors: here you can walk, meet friends, stop for a snack or meet particular characters like the one we see: an elderly guitar player with a faint voice. Under the bridge women immersed up to their shoulders in the water fish by maneuvering with skill. two short bamboo canes and every now and then they stop to smoke a cigarette or make a betel tablet *. They keep everything they need in the same basket where they throw the fish caught. The bridge ? particularly suggestive at dawn, when c ?? a great coming and going of people on bicycles crossing the lake, and at sunset when with the cool of the evening the bridge becomes crowded, while the sun goes down. In the distance you can see the white pagoda of Pahtodawgyi, in Shwedagon style with a beautiful 76 meters high stupa in the center.
Departure for Pindaya.
* betel: widespread among men and women of all ages? a chewing mixture obtained from areca nuts and inserted together with tobacco and other ingredients in a betel leaf, a plant commonly called betel pepper (Piper betle) together with slaked lime? .. The latter induces the release of alkaloids, i which have a stimulating effect. The walnut so? prepared, when chewed, it stimulates the production of saliva and dyes it red. Betel nut chewers spit frequently (red spots are often found along the roads) and have black-stained teeth. Addiction to betel can? all? onset of mouth tumors and liver disease
The road leading to Pindaya? a thin strip of asphalt bordered on both sides by beaten earth. Does the guide tell us that? undergoing renovation. Travel ? very slow, why? the roadway? cos? narrow as not to allow the passage of two vehicles at the same time, cos? when c ?? at an intersection someone has to move aside and give way. On the other hand, the toll is also paid on this road, as on all Burmese roads. A stop for lunch and nearby we see boys playing chinlone, a cross between a sport and a dance. It is played by six people placed in a circle and pass a ball made of rattan hitting it with their feet trying not to make it fall for more? possible time. Are there more? of 200 types of foot and knee throws. What do we see? the variant similar to the Malaysian sepak tawkraw which inserts a net between the players divided into two teams and the rules are similar to volleyball but the ball for? it is kicked and not thrown with the hands. We resume the journey with? Physiological stop? in a terrifying toilet to forget? .does not even have a bidet shower, used in many places of toilets, even modest ones! Fortunately, there are some pagodas in the surrounding area? Finally, after about fifty kilometers traveled in two hours?., We arrive at Pindaya, a small town that is reflected in the waters of the Pone Ta Loke pond, surrounded by gardens where gigantic ficus grow. The landscape ? certainly bucolic made of red earth and soft hills but arid for most of? year and then explode with a lush appearance in the most? important agricultural areas of the state after the rainy season. Along the road that leads from Pindaya to Mandalay we met this monastery perched on a high hill on whose side 9 statues of standing Buddah rest. The monastery? reachable by climbing a long staircase or using a very narrow road. Since? we still had to travel a long way to get to Mandalay, we preferred to admire it from below and take some photographs.
The attraction of Pindaya? the Shwe Oo Minn karst cave, inside which, among stalactites and stalagmites, about 9000 statues of Buddah are preserved.
We arrive in the evening and thanks to our guide we have the visit dedicated only to our group!
CAVE OF SHWE OO MIN
IS? an important pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists and an attractive and unusual sight for tourists. The cave is located on a limestone hill in central Burma, not far from Inle Lake. It is said that all? entrance of the cave, since the third century BC, there was a pagoda and that the locals told pilgrims the legend of the Giant Spider who lived in the cave. One day the spider caught? a local princess holding her prisoner but, according to legend, a Prince armed with a bow and arrow killed the spider, thus saving it? Princess. Along the access climb to the? entrance, path that allows us to admire the valley below in a full moon evening, c '? a sculpture of a giant spider and a prince pointing his bow towards it. The hill contains three caves, only one of which? open to the public. This cavern, about 150 meters long, contains thousands of Buddha images in various styles and from different eras from the first Konbaung dynasty to the present day. We avoid the 500 steps that lead to the top and with a very modern elevator with glass walls we arrive at? entrance. Every little corner, sometimes narrow, of the cave houses Buddha images up to the ceiling between stalactites and stalagmites. Over the course of several centuries, thousands of Buddha images have been placed inside the cave and their number, now around 9.000,? constantly increasing. It is not known for sure when the first images were placed inside the cave, but the most? ancient with inscriptions date back to the Konbaung dynasty of the second half? from the th century. The Buddha images are in different styles and represent the various eras in which they were made. Many are gold plated, others in teak wood, marble, bronze or other materials, some very small, some life-sized or huge.
Dinner in the restaurant? Greentea? greeted by a message dedicated to our tour operator FRANCOROSSO, strangely become? FRANCOROFFO ?, and by a group of local musicians, then transfer to the? Hotel Sanc Tum Inle Resort located right on the shore of Inle Lake. Another outstanding hotel! L? we photographed! Built around an imposing building surrounded by pleasant gardens with shady paths and consisting of isolated two-storey buildings. Spacious rooms with adjoining terrace. Tomorrow excursion on Inle Lake, one of the main attractions of Myanmar.
on December 13st
Inle Lake, the second largest in Myanmar, about 20 km long and about 11 km wide at its widest point? located in the mountains of the Shan State, at a height of 920 meters above sea level E? the territory of the Intha People, the? SONS OF THE LAKE? who have begun to live on? water not only by building their houses on stilts over them, but by creating a mosaic of floating gardens that cover much of the southern lake area and produce large quantities? of fruit, vegetables and flowers. But another important economic aspect of the area? the fishing practiced by fishermen who use nets and pots in a masterly way maneuvered with one leg and rowing with l? other, hovering on long, narrow teak boats. Together, combined with the scenery of the calm waters of the lake surrounded by mountains, it generates a remarkable choreographic effect: they are photographed by all the tourists who come to visit the lake. For them water? everything: element of life, source of sustenance, territory, countryside to cultivate, floating market. They could build villages along the shores of the lake, and instead build complex multi-storey buildings on stilts, which require in-depth knowledge of engineering and seabed geology. Here they study, pray, play, learn a trade, and obviously from an early age they practice the curious and characteristic technique of rowing with one leg.
After breakfast we go to the? private dock of? hotel where are they already? L? waiting for us are the boats, long and narrow, which can hold 4-5 people each. They are moved by the characteristic engines with the propeller fixed at the bottom of a long shaft, suitable for shallow waters. It is quite cold. We wait there? arrival of our guide who immediately assigns us the places in the boats. Begin the southbound crossing that will take us? before all? meeting with the intha fishermen for the usual photos and then after a navigation of about a? now to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda along a narrow canal with the famous? floating gardens? on its sides. To access the Pagoda from the lake,? necessary to juggle the dozens of boats stacked along the dock, even in the low season. In truth? the pagoda did not impress me much in its architecture while instead? the history that surrounds it is interesting. This complex contains the famous five golden Buddhas, which are now nothing more than five lumps of gold. the gold foils added by dozens of people made them unrecognizable. That said, c '? luckily a photo d? era of how they were. The story has it that the 5 statues of Buddha paraded on the lake carried by a boat which unfortunately sank. Later four were recovered except the fifth which was miraculously found in the Pagoda. It should be noted that women who want to donate the leaf d? gold must ask l? assistance of a man ??
We resume navigation south towards a fabric factory made of silk of lotus threads in the village of Inpawkhone, admiring pagodas, lush vegetation and the particular houses on stilts. We see a mailbox too? it on stilts!
In the silk factory, the guide illustrates the various stages of fabric processing.
The finest natural fiber is extracted by hand from the freshly harvested lotus flower stems. The careful preparation process to obtain the fiber to be spun? an ancient local tradition that requires a skill special transmitted by women from generation to generation. In the months between May and December, lotus flowers are collected and immediately transported to the weaving workshops of the village. To avoid inexorable deterioration, within 24 hours of harvesting very skilled hands must work precisely to obtain the raw fiber. To extract the very fine fiber strands, women group 4-5 lotus flower stems at a time, cut them off and on a damp table, manipulate the fibers by adding others to thicken the wire. Is this obtained? a yarn progressively more and more? long and consistent to wind on reels. Washed in boiling water and dyed in another workshop, the spinning preparation process? concluded and proceed to weaving.
The weavers repeat the design on the canvas "from memory".
In expensive lotus silk fabric, various refined and soft artifacts are made for scarves, shawls, robes of authoritative Buddhist monks, gilded cloths to be wrapped around Buddha statues as decoration on special occasions. Other weavers use lotus silk thread together with silkworm or cotton thread. In Myanmar,? It is widely believed that wearing a luxurious lotus silk thread artifact induces a state of tranquility? and facilitate spiritual meditation. I buy three scarves: one for my wife, one for my daughter and one for my niece.
Again sailing this time towards the north heading to Nam Pan where we will witness the manual preparation of cigarettes: in Myanmar they smoke more? women than men! During the journey among very picturesque houses on stilts, we meet two tourists, the only ones encountered, on a boat probably hired. The mixture of cigarettes? made up of only 25% tobacco, the rest? composed of chopped tamarind leaves. The blend is compacted, scented (with anise, banana or mint) and wrapped in a cheroot leaf (sweet cigar tobacco) while the filter? made with corn leaves. Cigarettes are also sold individually. The workers work at the piece rate: a woman earns 1000 kyat (one dollar) for every 200 rolled cigarettes and the most? good are so fast that they can do more? of 1000 per day. They also make 100% tobacco cigars, but are they considered too strong to smoke, so? they only use them for votive offerings. All the workers have thanaka on their cheeks, a bright yellow paint often applied with particular designs and used by women and children but often also by men. It is obtained from the bark of? Limonia acidissima ?, a sapling similar to sandalwood that grows only in Southeast Asia.
A moistened stump of the plant rubs one side for a long time on a wooden plate or stone. After a few vigorous scrubbing, the pulp of the wood forms a yellowish fluid with water, similar to a foundation, which you can? apply directly to the skin. With the help of a brush or a comb, friezes or drawings are made to improve the decoration. For Burmese girls? the main cosmetic, the everyday one. They also consider it a cheap sunscreen. In addition? they say that ? miraculous to make the skin more? radiant and shining, protect it from impurities? and to eliminate spots and pimples.
After lunch in a restaurant, still sailing in a narrow channel located in the southern part of Inle Lake, along a path that in some places recalls the atmosphere of Apocalypse Now, the famous film by Francis Ford Coppola with Marlon Brando, towards the village of Inthein where is the? the hill of a thousand stupas? , considered an archaeological religious site. Here, in fact, lies a large group of stupas built over a period of about 500 years, from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, half hidden by tropical vegetation, some in good condition, others damaged or almost completely destroyed by earthquakes, bad weather and neglect.
Unfortunately, clumsy attempts to recover are still in progress:
The brick stupas are rebuilt in blue or white concrete, which has nothing to do with the existing material.
Another interesting part of the visit to this place? the descent for the long covered portico bordered by columns (about 700 meters) which starts from the top? of the hill and along which there are hundreds of stalls selling everything, obviously with a prevalence of souvenirs for tourists (puppets, lacquered boxes, postcards, fridge magnets, tapestries, watercolors and various paintings). Sifting through the merchandise on display you can make interesting purchases but we are looking for a brass statuette of Buddah or a stupa always in brass what for? We can't find it? How can we not find a Myanmar flag to add to our collection? I think we will find it on Amazon! We return to our hotel enjoying a fantastic sunset over the lake. Dinner and rest after a very busy day. Tomorrow stop in Loikaw.
INLE-LOIKAW LAKE 150 km
on December 14st
In the late morning departure for Loikaw, the capital of the state of Kayah, one of the largest states. children of Myanmar where until 2012 it was forbidden l? access to foreigners due to the constant clashes between the government and the various ethnic groups who wanted there? independence. The main ethnic group? the kayah which has among its subgroups the kayan (commonly known as padaung) with their famous long-necked women. We cross a beautiful unspoiled countryside and arrive in the city. Stop at the hotel, the Famous, not the best but acceptable, and with the surprise of finding a Christmas tree and a nativity scene in the Hall! We have lunch in a typical restaurant and then we reach the village of Pemsong, in the community? of Pan Pet to meet local families and learn about their lifestyle. The day continues in the village of Rang Ku, with the meeting with the famous? Ladies Padaung? (Padaung = copper neck), better known as? Giraffe women? but I prefer the term? long-necked ??.? Many children surround us and then, entered a house, among chickens, a black pig closed in a pen, in the? I am about to, or rather try, to crush the grains of rice in a stone mortar to produce flour, with a huge and heavy wooden pestle that a woman uses with great skill. Bianca and I try? .With poor result?
THE? LORD PADAUNG?
Those that were seen in other parts of Myanmar have been forced to emigrate in search of gain, thanks to the fame that their appearance is so. singular gathered among the tourists. In essence, they act as a red herring to attract buyers to local souvenir and craft shops taking a salary from the owners. But in the village of Rang Ku it seems a different situation as it doesn't? mobbed by souvenir sellers who discreetly wait for customers. Neck rings were once the fate of all Padaung women, almost a life sentence ?. Today it is up to only a few? Chosen? The first ring is placed at the age? of 5-6 years, then every year one adds up to a maximum of 25-26 and a total weight of 6 kg. The affixing of the rings does not cause, as it might seem at first glance, an elevation of the chin. In reality? it is the collarbone and shoulder blade that are lowered. Anyway, the effect? that stretch the neck out of all proportion. Here kindness and smiles are truly at home and they make us feel not tourists but welcome guests. In fact he welcomes us in his miserable but dignified house Daw Muu Than, a? sprightly and nice? lady? that ? almost a star and that lends itself well to telling and answering our questions also thanks to an interpreter as here we speak a language other than Burmese. The husband ? a shaman! But what about her kindness when introducing me and asking her how old she gave me she says: 50 !!!! But then cleverly introducing Bianca asks if? my daughter!!!! How dear! I get closer, there hug and kiss her hand! Then do a scratch with a special pointed tool that inserts between the rings and the neck? A good memory? .We are greeted by a? dance performance performed by local women.
Before returning to the hotel we pass by the Naung Tung lake, very suggestive at sunset, and along the shore we see some boys with two elephants? around how do you do with a dog? .. and three adorable children, two sissies with already? around the neck the golden rings and a boy with a? mischievous air.
The pi? famous religious landmark of Loikaw? the bizarre Taung-kwe Pagoda, scenically built on a rocky promontory overlooking the south side of the city center. Maybe ? the religious construction pi? Myanmar's extravagant, with a series of layers of rock dotted with dozens of golden stupas and colorful shrines, all connected by winding stairways and aerial walkways. Kitschy enough for my taste! Dinner in a restaurant. Tomorrow I will fly to Yangon.
LOIKAW-YANGON (577 km)
on December 15st
Wake up almost at? dawn? .. Our plane to Yangon leaves at 8.30? Along the road in front of the? hotels parade monks for morning begging. L? Loikaw airport? very modest yet until recently it was the best in Myanmar! Waiting for the? boarding we attend the? arrival of a personality? religious with many people waiting for him with two sumptuous processional umbrellas.
After a little more? of an hour we arrive in Yangon.
Stop at the hotel, the same fabulous as the first day and then visit the hotel? White Elephant, what would I say? pi? pink? To see him chained out of curiosity? of tourists leaves me very perplexed? .To recover we go to the jewelry and souvenir shop MIN THIHA, one of the most? serious, thanks to a family experience of almost 15 years. Does the shop offer quality gemstones? such as rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, semi-fine pearls and precious stones. Does Bianca choose a bell? white gold ring with aquamarine and 2 small diamonds. You bargain then get 584 dollars with the addition-gift of a? miniature Burmese harp and a CD of local music. Do we need to shrink l? ring and tell us that it will come? delivered directly to the hotel.
Let's go back for lunch at the hotel, then go around to wander around the area that hosts the:
THE BOGYOKE MARKET
The market ? It was established in the years 1994-1995, since Myanmar began to open trade relations with many other countries.
This market? the pi? large gemstone trading center in Myanmar and their price ranges from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. There are many small shops of a few square meters but also some of a certain importance and there are very different products, suited to the preferences and economic conditions of customers; obviously there is no shortage of clothing shops. Some antique shops sell old coins, banknotes, stamps. The new market wing houses shops selling medicines, groceries, clothing and foreign goods. The market ? also known for its black market money changers. There are numerous street-food outlets. On the wooden footbridge that crosses the old train tracks, you can find noodles, fries but also pork parts (intestines, tongue, ears, etc.), boiled or fried and then seasoned with hot pepper sauce.
Back to the? hotel we have time to visit it more? thorough. IS? just exceptional! Then for dinner, always abundant and refined! Fish to choose from and cooked on the spot! Also arrives there? ring that had to be made smaller! More up early tomorrow? .L? plane to Doha leaves at 7.50 local time!
on December 16st
We arrive at the airport, one of the most? world winners, what? truly magnificent and waiting for the? boarding what will happen? in about 5 hours (sic), let's turn a bit? and we find a bar that makes coffee? with Italian blend of? ILLY ?! Long last! We have time to buy a model of a QATAR AIRWAYS plane and then we embark. Arrive in Doha at 11.40am local time.
We leave at 16.05 local time and land in Malpensa at 20.30 local time. Our train leaves tomorrow at 15,25 so we will spend the night at? Hotel Moxy just minutes from Terminal 2. Minimum dinner as Qatar Airways overwhelmed us with food, drinks and sweets! Quiet night even if the time zone makes you feel like the jet-leg too!
on December 17st
We leave with Italotreno at 16.15 and arrive in Naples at 20 53. Metro and finally home! Another journey to tell!
MYANMAR AMAZED US WITH ITS CULTURE AND TRADITIONS.
THE SPECTACULAR TEMPLES OF BAGAN, THE SUN THAT INFLINES THE GOLDEN STUPE OF THE SHEWDAGON PAGODA IN YANGON, THE FERTILE COUNTRYSIDE, THE INLE LAKE WITH ITS VILLAGES ON PALAFITTE HINTA AND THE HINTA FISHERMEN WILL BE IMPRINTED IN THE MIND AND IN THE EYES. ALL ITS PEOPLE!
THANK YOU? BURMA ?, OR TODAY'S MYANMAR, FOR THE EMOTIONS YOU HAVE GIVEN US!