Seems to me like I was just in Myanmar yesterday. I couldn’t believe its been three months since I left the country and scoured five destinations abroad. I couldn’t concentrate on my work and doing the daily grind was so sad that I kept wondering why I am doing this… 😦
Anyway, last night, I dreamed. I dreamed I was inside the Shwedagon and was sitting on a clean, marbled floor all by myself, staring at a big golden stupa. I wasn’t praying, just awed. No one’s with me except a woman I saw knelt in front of a reclining Buddha. I really found it weird.
That scene in my dream was so familiar. When morning came, I immediately browsed through my Mac’s database to search for all the pics I took when I had the chance to get inside the Shwedagon. Lo and behold. I found my picture of that woman I dreamed praying before a huge Buddhist idol.
I offered a silent prayer then for that woman who seems to be imploring the Buddha for an answer. Whatever it may be, I offered a silent prayer…for her. I guess, I should have done that that night I got to visit this popular Buddhist shrine. But that time, I was distracted by the dazzling lights inside the Shwedagon.
Months before our Myanmar trip, I surfed the Net countless times to learn about the history of this famous pagoda in Yangon and why travelers say its a must-see place. Others included this in their bucket list–I don’t know why I didn’t–but now I’m glad I got to visit it before I included it in MY bucket list. (I’ve stricken it off by now.)
The Shwedagon has been regarded as the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine in Burma and around the world. It’s really splendid when you get to meet it up close. If you trace the history of Burma, one could say Buddhism played a crucial role in establishing the country’s origins and its religion. Almost 80 percent of the Burmese, practice Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism.
For the life of me, I cannot find time to sit down and understand the Buddhist faith. All I know is that it remains a dominant world religion and focuses on the worship of deities and emphasizes on certain religious rituals.
I wanted to tour the Shwedagon on an early morning but I only got the chance to visit it very late in the evening. A visit to the Shwedagon was part of the program of the 2014 International Media Conference last March, and so I had to set aside my personal itinerary in favor of a group tour. We flocked to Singattura Hill (where the pagoda is situated) one evening together with a hundred foreigners, all eager to see Yangon’s top tourist site.
We went inside the premises leaving our shoes at the entrance corridor. After going up through an elevator and walking past a long hallway, my bare feet finally touched the cold marble floor.
Once inside the temple, I was stupefied. Who wouldn’t be, when everything here practically glitters! I thought it’s magnificent during the day when the temple is visible almost everywhere in Yangon but it really shines out more at night. Honestly, when we got inside, I had a little difficulty closing my mouth. I thought I was caught in a trance while I wandered around the vast compound.
I spent the first hour wandering around by myself inside the Shwedagon. Funny, I went here with a bunch of friends and I just lost sight of them. But I like that. I like to wander around aimlessly anyway, and I was just fascinated with what all the scenes around me. Like this group of devotees bathing a little Buddha. I wonder what this symbolic rite mean? Sorry, I have really no idea. Can somebody enlighten me please? 😉
I was also really tempted to ask one of the monks if everything I see–the stupas–are really made of gold? But I don’t know how to speak Burmese.
After a while, I chanced upon a colleague who also got lost inside. Finally, I don’t have to take a selfie! We took turns posing and taking pictures, besting each other with the best souvenir photo inside the Shwedagon…
But so far, I like this one…I even made it my Facebook photo…
We enjoyed scouring the Shwedagon so much we didn’t notice that everyone else have left the grounds! We went back to the hallway where we came from and alas! Our shoes weren’t there! We realized we got out at the wrong gate. We had no choice but to get back inside and find the corridor where we originally entered. We hurried out and was thankful that another journalist (a Chinese) was also left behind by her colleagues. We were so eager to go back to our hotels because we felt our feet was already itching. As we were trying to find our way back to the other gate, we took the opportunity to savor the magnificent views of the Shwedagon…