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Published: June 22nd 2017
The most important pagoda in Myanmar. The stupa is 326 ft tall. The lower levels are covered in gold leaf, the upper levels are covered in pieces of gold plate, 90 tonnes in all! Individuals continue to donate gold to progressively cover the whole stupa. Barely visible at the top is the "diamond orb" - a small gold structure with over 1,800 carats of diamonds, and topped by a single 76 carat gem.
The lower levels are being maintained and are covered in bamboo scaffolding and cane mats.
Geo: 16.8001, 96.1681
Full day city tour today. 30 of us in a 40-seater bus. The traffic is interesting. The military junta reversed things and decreed that traffic would travel on the right side of the road, but the vast majority of vehicles still remain right hand drive. And most of the buses and trucks are left hand drive. Que? Long delays at major intersections, but one side of the road appears almost traffic free. Also, motor bikes are banned in Yangon so that element of traffic congestion is missing.
We visited the Shwedagon Pagoda, a huge "stupa" surrounded by a multitude of lesser pagodas and pavilions. This was originally built in the 5th century BC to house hairs from Buddha's head, given shortly after his Enlightenment. Then a walk around the Royal Lake to view one of the royal barges, which is sporadically used for dining or tourism events. We drove past Aung San Suu Kyi's house and on to the Reclining Buddha. Then lunch and a walk through the CBD area, ending up at the Strand Hotel, opposite the Australian Embassy. We gave our guide a heart attack because three of us got separated from the group during the walk (browsing
too long at street stalls), but good old Google maps successfully got us to the destination.
The temperature has been in the mid-30s, but the humidity must be low because it has not been uncomfortable.
Dinner at La Planteur restaurant on the shores of Lake Inya, near Yangon University. A lovely setting and a very impressive, gourmet set menu.
Tomorrow we have an early start for the six-hour coach ride to Prome, where we catch our river boat. Wi-Fi has been fine up till now, I'm not optimistic about access while on the water...
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