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Published: March 11th 2018
Woolly says – Our last day in Bangkok had been one of torrential rain and other than watching it out of the hotels window and sighing a lot there was little to do, luckily, we will be back in the city in a few weeks, so we can carry on with our adventures there then. Our flight from Bangkok to our next country was the quickest yet but it did give me a chance to hone up on Myanmar. Myanmar was formerly known as Burma and has had a troubled history which has involved being ruled by many including the Bamar, the Mongols and the British who took over in the 19th century. It gained independence in 1948 but following a coup in 1962 it fell under a military dictatorship. This has caused one of the longest ongoing civil wars in the world! I looked at Jo, did she realise she was taking me into war zone?! Had we packed our flak jackets!? I kicked her firmly and asked the question.
Having reassured him that the only one that was going to endanger his life was me if he continued to kick me, I explained that
I was aware and had read a fair amount on the subject, enough to know that the city we were heading to was currently without incidents for several years and that there was a British embassy close by if needed. Woolly says – I gulped and wondered if I had made my will clear enough in leaving all my bandanas to my bestie Sion! With the plane coming into land it appeared I would have to mammoth up and be ever ready and vigilant during our stay. The taxi ride into the centre of Yangon gave us some tempting snippets of what was to come, Yangon was once known as Rangoon when it was the capital of the then named Burma (I know it’s confusing) until the military moved the capital in 2006, it claims have the most colonial buildings in South East Asia, which I intend to investigate. Having found our lodgings and even managed to order food from a menu that had nothing but squiggles all over it we settled in for the night. I woke early the next morning and remembering Jo’s words about being nice to her as it was Mothering Sunday I
gave her a good swipe around the face with my trunk and jumped on her until she moaned, so I could be the first to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, for some reason she didn’t seem pleased with my greeting!
I know the thought was there but the painful nature of the greeting and the time of 5am wasn’t quite so welcome. Woolly says – Having allowed her to doze for a while before going through the usual morning ablutions that are most unnecessary in my view, we trotted down two flights to have breakfast which is included with our room. Not a bad start to the day and as I wiped the egg yolk on Zoe’s shorts and tried to rub the butter off my paws I was more than excited to start our days adventures. A ten minute taxi ride took us to one of the most incredible views I have ever seen, a huge golden pagoda graced the skyline and was so bright it made my eyes hurt. Historians and archaeologists maintain that the pagoda was built by the Mon people between the 6th and 10th centuries AD,
however, according to legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda was constructed more than 2600 years ago, which would make it the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world. The stupa fell into disrepair until the 14th century when King Binnya U (1323–1384) rebuilt it to a height of 18 meters (59 ft) then a century later Queen Binnya Thau (1453–1472) raised its height to 40 meters (131 ft). It remained at this height until an earthquake in 1768 brought down the top part of the building and the king of that time not only repaired it but raised it to its current height of 99 meters (325 ft) and all of that is gold! My flabber was gasted and having stood admiring it for several minutes we entered through the East gate having waited for the women to faff around with shoe and sock removal and took the steps upwards to take in our first view of the complex.
Words failed all of us as we stood on the marble floor staring not only at the huge pagoda but the gold temples that surrounded it which were then surrounded by further buildings that were graced with gold,
it was eye watering stuff. Woolly says – With the reflection of the sun I could feel my eyeballs burning with the quantity of gold, I led the way in a clockwise direction to try and take it all in, after the first hour it seemed that we had passed hundreds of temples and golden Buddhas, each with incredible ceilings and columns to support the building. The smaller temples nearer the pagoda itself had different characters guarding them, there was so much to take in it was impossible to look at the detail on each and every part of it, hopefully Jo’s photo’s can help you see my problem. It was in the high 30’s and with the sun bouncing off all of the splendour we were all dripping with sweat, we seemed to have been going for hours and although I was loving every minute it was all getting a bit too much, luckily we found the museum just after the North entrance and dived in to cool down. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but it proved not just a cooling experience but a pretty interesting one as well with all manner of Buddha’s and mini
stupas to view, strangely lots of people kept getting onto their knees and praying to the various displays which I found a little strange, I can understand around the magnificence outside, but the museum was well a museum!
We braced ourselves and headed back into the heat and the spectacular views, the gold was hurting our eyes and the Buddha’s just kept coming. Woolly says – We found one temple with an immense Buddha in who had a fan over his head that people were spending hours moving to keep him cool, maybe I need some followers, so I can be fanned! Just as we thought we had finished another array of magnificence would draw us in or another ceiling or Buddha, the place seemed never ending. Just as I thought I couldn’t cope with any more we arrived back at our entrance and three very dazzled visitors gave the pagoda one last look before heading downwards and back to the shoe area. While I was waiting for the women to sort themselves out I had a very pleasant chat with a couple from Wigan who were as gold blind as
us, they were heading towards the Peoples Park and being our next port of call we headed off in their wake. Once part of the palace grounds of Queen Shin Sawbu and later a golf course for some years during the colonial days we had decided that it would make a pleasant end to our day. The gardens were full of families picnicking and couples wandering down the Lovers lane part of it, with fair ground rides and enough eateries to even keep me fed for a few weeks it was lovely. We seated ourselves at a table and managed to once again order something to eat, a few language issues meant that Zoe got chicken and noodles which was returned and replaced with vegetable noodles but other than that it was good and having offered to pay the bill I smiled in delight when it came to less than £4.00 GBP for all the main meals and six drinks! We ambled past the rollercoasters and log flumes and found ourselves watching the live karaoke for a while, no details but I don’t think that Britain’s Got Talent is missing anything! The fountains once we arrived at them were a
delight with large elephants squirting the water through their trunks, it also gave us another view of the Shwedagon Pagoda which looked just as shiny as it had up close, Jo seemed to have enjoyed her special day although every day with me is special and tomorrow will be another heap of delights!
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