February 2013 Archives

Dhammayazika Pagoda in Bagan

January 14 (part 1): A full day in Bagan and vicinity, visiting a few of the thousands of pagodas in the neighborhood. This one is the chedi of Dhammayazika Pagoda, undergoing renovation - including re-gilding of the dome - but still spectacular.

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The monks are able to spend at least some time with their families doing family things.

Bagan - The First Evening

January 13 (part 4): We arrived in Bagan in late afternoon, and checked into our spiffy resort hotel. It was located on the river, with several of the historic temples and pagodas just outside the grounds. From Wikipedia:

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar). From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

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Burmese Market (2)

January 13 (part 3): More photos from the market on the way from Mandalay to Bagan. Click photos to enlarge them.





Burmese Market

January 13 (part 2) On our way from Mandalay to Bagan, we stopped at a very large and lively market in a provincial town. Click photos to enlarge them.





Fried Chicken

January 13 (part 1) Today we drove from Mandalay to Bagan. For lunch we stopped at a roadside cafe that featured fried chicken, family style. It was good! Despite appearances, this fellow wasn't going to eat the whole platter.


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Bagaya Kyaung Monastery

January 12 (part 6): Bagaya Kyaung Monastery in Mandalay. Another one of the great teak monasteries we have seen, with dark, brooding interiors, giant pillars, and intricate carvings. They have all been compelling: moody, old, majestic in a quiet way.

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Handicraft Shop in Mandalay

January 12 (part 5): After the marble carving and bronze casting, we visited a shop where they embroider tapestries, and also sell antique (more likely antiqued) statues, fabrics, etc. A pleasant view of the Burmese aesthetic.

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Casting Bronze Buddhas in Mandalay

January 12 (part 4): Near the area where Buddha statues of marble were being carved, there is another area where bronze statues are cast. Here are some photos of the process.

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Marble Carving in Mandalay

January 12 (part 3): All those Buddha images have to come from somewhere, and there's a street in Mandalay where the marble ones are roughed out, refined, and polished.

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Mandalay Jade Market

January 12 (part 2): Burma produces the best and most plentiful jade, and the Jade Market in Mandalay is the biggest in the world. Most of the buyers are Chinese, and it seems that everyone arrives on motorcycles.

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On the Banks of the Irrawaddy

January 12 (part 1): This was a day during which we saw an interesting variety of activities in some of the working neighborhoods of Mandalay. Right across the street from our hotel was a settlement of people living along the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Their settlement certainly didn't look permanent, but they didn't seem to be transients, either.

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Mingun Images

January 11 (part 5): A couple of miscellaneous images from our afternoon in Mingun, Burma. Click photos to enlarge them.


Customers at a shop


Detail of a bamboo screen

Along the Irrawady River in Mingun

January 11 (part 4): We took a short boat ride up the Irrawady River from Mandalay to Mingun, one of Burma's ancient capitals. Here are some scenes upon arrival.


Ox-cart taxis hoping to take us a couple of blocks. We decided to walk.


The kid is hardly bigger than the wheel of the motorbike.


This girl rang a giant (90 ton) bell with a big mallet. She looked as if she would have gladly rung our bell.


A small part of the Hsinbayume Paya pagoda, intended to emulate Mt. Meru, "an important cosmological symbol to both Buddhists and Hindus."

Gold Leaf in Mandalay

January 11 (part 3): All the gold leaf that covers temples and Buddha statues in Burma has to come from somewhere, and today we saw how it's made: by hammering an initial small lump of gold between sheets of parchment in successive stages until it becomes just a few microns thick. Each stage (there are four, if I remember correctly) takes about 30 minutes of steady hammering, and reduces the thickness by about a factor of 10.

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The hammering


The final result: a book of 100 sheets

Amarapura Monastery

January 11 (part 2): Mama Ganayon Kyang monastery, near the U Bein Bridge, houses many monks. Click photos to enlarge them.







Pots to prepare food for more than 1000 monks


Volunteers preparing vegetables


A big pot of stew

U Bein Bridge in Mandalay

January 11: U Bein Bridge crossing Taungthaman Lake in Amarapura near Mandalay. From Wikipedia: "a 1.2 km wooden footbridge (longest teak bridge in the world) built by the mayor U Bein salvaging the unwanted teak columns from the old palace during the move to Mandalay."

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Silhouette of a monk walking across the bridge


Looking down from the bridge on a farmer working in her field


Flood-killed trees


Herding a flock of ducks


Some of the flock, through a telephoto lens

Mandalay Palace at Sunset


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Shwenandaw Monastery in Mandalay

January 10 in Mandalay (part 2): We visited the Shwenandaw Kyaung Temple in Myanmar, a striking old structure. According to an article in
Asian Historical Architecture:

"King Mindon died in this structure in 1878, and his son and successor, King Thibaw (r. 1878-1885), often went there to meditate. He soon became convinced, however, that Mindon's spirit was haunting the building, and on October 1878 he ordered it dismantled and removed from the Royal City. Over the next five years it was reconstructed as a monastery--and dedicated as a work of merit to the memory of King Mindon--on a plot adjoining the Atumashi Monastery near the northeast corner of the Royal City. The rest of the old Royal Palace within the old Royal City (now Mandalay Fort) burned during the latter stages of the Second World War as a result of allied bombing of the Japanese ensconced in the old Royal Palace. King Thibow's superstition thus had preserved a significant remnant of the Royal Palace."

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The carvings of ancient Buddhist myths on the old teak doorways are spectacular.

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This girl was selling garlands of flowers at the doorway.


The statue of Buddha in the interior is peaceful and beautiful.


It's somewhat hidden in the midst of massive teak pillars.

Mother and Child in Mandalay

January 10: We traveled from Inle Lake to Mandalay. At a roadside shop, a mother was proud to show off her baby. (click to enlarge)


Spinning Lotus Fiber

January 9 (part 8): Our final stopping point on this busy sight-seeing day around Inle Lake was a factory/salesroom where they weaved both silk and lotus fiber. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Spooling lotus fiber.

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Extracting lotus fiber from the plant, a slow and tedious process. Cloth made from lotus is considerably more expensive than that made from silk.

Bathing in Indein Creek

January 9 (part 7): The Shwe Indein Pagoda (stupa forest) in yesterday's blog is located in the little village of Indein, which is on Indein Creek which flows into Inle Lake. The creek is not only a transit way for boats; it's a place for women and men - in separate locations - to bathe and wash clothes while socializing. Modesty is preserved: sarongs and briefs stay on during bathing.

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Stupa Forest

January 9 (part 6) The Indein Pagoda near Inle Lake contains hundreds of stupas, many of them old, overgrown, and in poor repair - which leads to the romantic charm of the place. The profusion of stupas leaves one stupa-fied :-)!

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Seen Along the Path

January 9 (part 5): A few scenes glimpsed on our exploration of life around Inle Lake. Ordinary life seems extraordinary to us visitors from afar. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Making Cheroots

January 9 (part 4): As part of our explorations of the diverse activities around Inle Lake in Myanmar, we visited a cigar "factory" - actually only a couple of women rolling small cigars, or cheroots. Click photos to enlarge them.

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January 9 (part 3): We visited a school near Inle Lake, arriving just as the kids were let out for recess. They mobbed us!

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On Inle Lake

January 9 (part 2): Characteristic scenes from Inle Lake. Click photos to enlarge them.

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A fisherman on Inle Lake, propelling his boat by holding the oar in his armpit and moving it with his leg, while leaving both hands free to deal with the net.

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Lake-side fish market.

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Living on the lake.

Morning Mist on Inle Lake

January 9: The view from the walkway outside our cabin toward the hills that surround the lake. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Golden Island in Inle Lake

January 8 and 9: Scenes from the Golden Island Cottages in the middle of Inle Lake. One can see why it's called "Golden Island". Click photos to enlarge them.

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Looking out from our cabin.

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Reflections in the utterly calm water the next morning.

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Boatmen waiting to take us on our tour of lake destinations.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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