Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Day in Yangon. Part 2.

The giant reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda.

Sring was on a mission to show us as much of Yangon as he could in one day. It's exhausting rushing around in this heat but I really appreciate what he's doing. Today is our one and only day in the city so we have to make the most of it.

After lunch, it was off to the National Museum of Myanmar. Spring got us our entry tickets and then we had to check in our bags. For some reason, cameras were not allowed but you can use the camera on your smartphone to take photos so that's what I did. I'm not good with taking photos on my phone so most came out blurry. 

Founded in 1952, the five-story museum has an extensive collection of ancient artifacts, ornaments, works of art, inscriptions and historic memorabilia, related to history, culture and civilization of Myanmar. I have to admit, I am not a museum person. In fact, I had been fading from the heat and humidity so much so that all I wanted to do was to stand in front of the free standing air conditioners in each exhibition hall. Surprisingly, we did make it up to all five floors but for the most part, it was just a quick walk through of each one.

We started in an exhibit on the origins and development of Burmese script/alphabet throughout history, as well as exhibits on other ancient and ethnic scripts. 


Another exhibition hall that I did find interesting was the one that had royal thrones on display.  They were seriously stunning.






On the fourth floor was an exhibit hall displaying Buddha Images, dating back to ancient times and up to the present day.  It was interesting to see the different design styles of the Buddhas.







Oddly enough, the least interesting exhibition halls for me were the ethnographic one and the one displaying puppets and musical instruments.  Those would typically be the things that I would be most attracted to seeing and reading up about.



One of the last halls we walked into also fell into the bottom of my interest list - the Halls of Arts which covers the progress of Burmese art, beginning with the cave paintings of the stone age to the Bagan, Innwa, Taungoo, Konbaung and Yadanabon periods to 20th century contemporary art. The works of famous artists are on display.  I walked through this hall only to get to the air conditioner.  Sorry.  Not interested in paintings.


By the time we left the museum, it was late afternoon.....just in time to make it to Bogyoke Park.  Spring brought us here for a bit of greenery and a view of Shewdagon Palace.


It's a nice city park - lots of green grass and tall trees. I can see why it's popular for locals to come and relax here.



The park is home to several hotels and restaurants.  Of course, the one restaurant that stands out is the one that looks like a Karaweik Royal Barge.  According to Spring, it's a high end restaurant.  I can see why - it's perfectly situated for a wonderful view of Shewdagon.


We drove around the park and Spring wanted to take us to another section for a closer view of Shwedagon.


As we got out of the van, we noticed two young men attempting to rollerblade.  It was obvious that one was  a real beginner.


Spring took pity on the poor guy and decided to give him a lesson on how to move his feet so he could forward without falling.  Initially, he hung on to Spring for support but soon was able to move a few feet on his own.



Spring was incredibly patient and with his guidance, the young guy was starting to get the hang of it.  Spring kept helping him.  It was fun to watch them both.

I can't skate if my life depended on it so I fully empathized with the guy's frustrations and fears of falling.  I feel ya!


While Spring did his thing, the rest of us walked towards the water for the view of Shwedagon.  It is a really nice view to see the golden stupa against the glow of the setting sun.



By the time we were done with the view, Spring was still at it with the young guy.  Bro got into the action as well.  Sadly, we couldn't hang around long enough for the guy to rollerblade without assistance from someone but we encouraged him to keep practicing.  Sooner or later, he'll get the hang of it and will be zipping his way around the park!


Before dropping us off back at the hotel and calling it a day, Spring took us to Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda which is home to a 65 meter (213 feet) long, 16 meter (52 feet) tall Reclining Buddha image.  It was very odd to see that this highly revered Buddha image is housed in what looks like a very large shed.  Seemed like a very inauspicious place to be home to such a beloved image.

The original Buddha image was completed in 1907 but in subsequent years, fell into disrepair.  A devout Buddhist decided to restore it, with funds from devotees and renovations were completed in the late 1990's.

There were a few people praying in front of the image when we entered under the shed.


Yes, this is a male image but the Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha looks feminine.  I think it's because it's adorned with a shiny golden robe that could pass for an evening gown. The right arm of the Buddha is supporting the back of the head and he has been decorated with a white face, red lips, blue eye shadow, golden robe and red nails.  He's got nicer toe nails than I do!


There is a small view platform so you can have a view of the image from slightly higher than above ground and you can walk around to the back of the image.

The soles of the feet contain 108 segments in red and gold colors that show images representing the 108 lakshanas or auspicious characteristics of the Buddha. 



We were only here for a few minutes as there was nothing else to see other than the image. Spring was ready to call it a day and take us back to the hotel.  It had been a very long day but it wasn't yet over for the three of us.