12.01 Yangon 1, Giant Buddha, Theingyi Zei Market and Shwedagon Pagoda
Yangon, once the capital, was also considered as the Garden City of the East, adorned with idyllic lakes, shady parks and green tropical vegetation. It is the gateway to Myanmar and now a growing bustling business centre. The people are as throughout Mayanmar friendly and welcoming.
In the morning we first visited Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda with its huge reclining Buddha 70m long and then a nearby monastery. A stroll through the Theingyi Zei Yangon food market provided a complete contrast and was interesting if not hygienic. The people seem to actually like being photographed. We thought it best not have lunch there but in a restaurant at the top of the Sakura Tower.
Yangon’s not-to-be-missed attraction is the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda on the Singuttara Hill, considered by many as the greatest and most impressive Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar today. Originally 8.2 metres tall, now it stands close to 100 metres in all its glory through successive renovations by various Myanmar monarchs. The Pagoda, which is more than 2500 years old, enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics. Colourfully dressed worshippers offering flowers, food, candles and water can be constantly seen circling the shrine. A sunset visit provides a spectacular sight, when the gold spire gleams in the light of the setting sun. We spent most of the afternoon there and of course stayed for the sunset. The whole area was thronging with people performing their Buddhist worship at the various shrines and temples. This includes washing and sweeping rituals for the statues and courtyards. After dark many of the Buddha statues are lit with a halo of coloured flashing lights, which contrast sharply with western taste.