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Published: February 18th 2015
As many adventures begin, we started our jaunt to Mawlamyine in true ignorance but with the best of intentions. The Lonely Planet said that over the "first couple days of February" there was a big festival commemorating the birthday of a certain monk who made it his life work to make the Worlds Largest Reclining Buddha. The festival was to be at said enormous Buddha, attended by thousands of monks and pilgrims and mucho festivities would occur, in particular a Thai boxing tournament. So all of this sounds all right, so off we went.
Lizzie, Mat, Jess, and I all left Yangon on a bus, which thrilled us. This bus was a VIP bus, chairs reclined well and blankets and travel pillows were provided. Air con was turned up to full power, of course. After Lizzie and I satiated our need to take pictures of us in travel pillows with different filters on our cameras, we settled in. 7 hours later we arrived in Mawlamyine, a small town heading down the southern tail of Burma, the tail that runs along the Thai peninsula.
Mawlamyine was hot. But we got to the hostel, to be promptly
told that the festival had happened two weeks previous....but what about the monks birthday? Is it like the 'Queens Birthday' and fluctuates regardless of the current royal on the throne? Doesn't seem right. But alas, right or not, fact was, this year's festival was now in the past. Oh well! Let's see the big Buddha anyways!
The four of us got a tuk tuk, which in Burma is a pickup truck with two benches going down the length of the bed and a cover over it, to take us out to the Buddha, WinSeinTawYa. We knew we were close when we started driving past statue upon statue of saffron robed monk. They were probably on time and at the festival, so they got statues. Each one was different, some more in need of Botox than others.
The Buddha itself is gigantic. It's 560feet long and wide enough to make that proportionate. The recline posture, the Buddha lying on his side, is a representation of Buddha during the time of his 6 year fast, when he was too fatigued to sit or stand to receive visitors wanting his advice. Umm, yeah, so the guy hasn't
eaten in 6 years and people are still hassling him. Give the guy some peace!! If I go more than six hours without food I not only need to lay down, but am pretty cranky about it all! I guess that's the main difference between me and Buddha.
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