Monday, June 17, 2013

Buddha Day in Yangon

The next morning I awoke and got ready for a trip to Dala township across the Yangon River. I packed my bag and headed down to breakfast. I had decided to leave for Bagan in the morning and asked the hotel to book my bus. The manager said he would confirm a seat while I ate my breakfast. I was sitting eating and saw a man looking for a place to sit. I invited Karl to join me. He was from the USA on a visa run from Thailand. He had just completed a TESOL certification and had a job offer to teach English in Bangkok. As we talked, he decided to join me on my Dala adventure. We left the hotel and walked towards the river. On our way, we noticed a large crowd at the local temple and decided to join the festivities. It was Buddha day. All of the Burmese were going to pay their respects to Buddha and we both wanted to experience this event. We removed our shoes and paid the foreigner fee to enter the pagoda. The first stop was to see the Buddha relics. It was a long, hot line. We stood waiting to enter the area for 15 minutes. The Burmese were excited to see 2 foreigners at their pagoda and stopped us for photos several times. It was cute. The would get shy and then one of them would be brave and ask for a photo with us. We finally got in and saw the Buddha hair relics.
As I was wondering around the temple grounds I met sisters that were excited to talk with me. They had worked at the British consulate and had gotten books in English on their way to the temple. They were so cute in their hats and wanted to see a picture of themselves. I obliged and promised to send a copy to their home. Aren't they cute?

The temples are used for both religious meditation and for social interaction. Friends and families had brought picnic lunches and set in the temples eating and conversing with one another. Others used the time for a short nap.
As we left and went into the courtyard, we were handed cups with a green juice. I looked at Karl, we cheered each other and said bottoms up. It appeared it was made with purified water...or so we hoped! Only time would tell! We watched as offerings were given to Buddha and families fed the turtles and fish in the pond.

Neither of us had planned to spend a day at the temple but it was an relaxing and enjoyable day observing normal Burmese life. I looked at my watch and realized it was 2:00 PM. I looked at Karl and asked if he was hungry. We decided to find a restaurant. We walked a few blocks to Monsoon Restaurant and ordered a few dishes and beers. We sat talking and laughing about life and the sights at the temple. Afterwards we walked over to the ferry. When we arrived, we were told that we could not go over to Dala as it was Buddha day. So, we walked back to the hotel. As we passed the local restaurant, I heard a familiar voice yell hello. It was Brad and Marilyn inviting us for a beer. We sat down and shared our stories. Before I knew it, the table was full of empty beer bottles, I was tipsy and it was dark outside. It was a good day and I needed to get to bed....I had to be ready for a 5:00 AM taxi to the bus station in the morning. I said my goodbyes to my new friends and headed to bed.
Obviously it was a good night....pic is blurry because I drank too much!

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