Inle Lake's fishermen have developed the ability to paddle using one leg, while handling fishing nets with their hands hand. All this is done on the rear end of unstable wooden canoes. The highest concentration of fishermen on Lake Inle usually occurs near the entrance to the main channel of Nyaunshwe: Nan Chaung). There also tends to be quite a few fishermen on the west coast of Lake Inle. Inle Lake fishermen use several fishing techniques. One of them uses nets in a conical shape, in another traditional nets. Hitting the water with their oars trying to direct the fish into nets.
At sunset, all tourists seek a place to watch the wonderful spectacle of the temples of Bagan. Who knows better than the drivers of all the wagons of horses on the way? It's the best way to visit Bagan. It is difficult to imagine what Bagan must have been, since only the most important religious buildings were made of permanent materials. The royal palaces and Kyaung (monasteries) were built of wood, so what's left is only a frail but beautiful shadow of what Bagan must have been in its period of maximum splendor. Nobody really knows how many temples were built. Supposedly, the official figure in the late 13th century was 4,446. In 1901, a study revealed that there were 2,157 identifiable landmarks still standing.
The Shwedagon Pagoda is certainly one of the more beautiful temples that exists. There, you can see the customs of Buddhists prayers and offerings of water and flowers. It's the most sacred temple for the Burmese because it houses the relics of four Buddhas: Kakhusanda's staff, Konagamana's water filter, a piece of the Kaspassa's, and eight hairs of Gautama.
The stupa is 100 meters tall and is covered with gold leaf. Visitors must remove their shoes before entering and prayers are performed while circling counterclockwise. At night, it's a spectacle to see, full of the faithful praying and chanting and the smell of incense.
U Bein Bridge is 1.2 km in length. 100% of the pedestrian area is made of teak. The same applies to much of the structure where they put boards. U Bein Bridge crosses Lake Taungthaman, connecting with Amarapura to join the two parts of the town. This bridge was constructed using teak from abandoned houses in the Sagaing e Inwa region. Looking at the picture on Googlemaps, you can get an idea of the length of the bridge.
The 17 o'clock. It's the official time for "caneball" in Myanmar. At this time the sun's heat is less strong and young people gather on the streets to play a game of caneball or simple have a quick go. It's easy to join them for part of the game. Doing it in Old Bagan has the magic of playing next to the temples which are more than 800 years old, sharing touches with men dressed only in a longyi (a kind of sarong that men in Brmania wear) rolled up like a diaper . The best temple to have the opportunity to join the game is Dhammayangyi, the largest temple of Bagan.
This pagoda is very near the Shwedagon Pagoda. Inside, there is a huge reclining Buddha measuring about 70 meters long and taller than a six-story building. The pagoda was built in 1907 on behalf of the merchant Sir-Phoe Tha and was restored in 1970 with donations from the faithful. It's a must-visit in Yangon.
Bagan has an older area where almost all of the city's temples are located, most of which date from the 11th and 12th centuries. A few years ago the government decided to move the inhabitants of this "city monument" and create a new population further south called New Bagan. All the roads are made of dirt Old Bagan and it's flat without any hills, which allows you to take lovely photos, especially if the weather permits, of hte more than 4000 temples located at different distances. There are several ways to get around old Bagan. Burmese Tourists buses have organized packages consisting of foreign tourists in vans with local guides. There are independent travellers who move by taxi, by carriage or by bicycle. There are at least 2 or 3 hotel and guesthouses or hostels within Old Bagan. You can see trucks full of people being transported from New Bagan Nyaung U or Old Bagan to any of these two populations. The souvenir vendors are found in Old Bagan. They can be a little difficult, but by putting on a smile, bargaining may eventually even become fun.
Mount Popa is close to the village of Kyauk Padaung, in the national park that has its name and 50 km from Bagan. Mount Popa has a monastery that takes the place of an extinct volcano. We got there on a day trip from Bagan. The best is the light of the mountain, with its monastery crowning the top. It is one of the places that is most visited by tourists and Myanmar. The rise is amazing, barefoot, surrounded by the people that are of ethnic nationalities and monkeys that are of surprising audacity, used to being fed, so you have to be very careful. Once up , the monastery is not great, it is no wonder, but it has wonderful views of the surrounding areas. You will find magic here.
Mandaly was the last capital of Myanmar that fell into the hands of the British and is still of importance as the cultural capital. It is Myanmar's 2nd biggest city and was founded in the year 1857. Dusty during the hot season , Mandalay is a sprawling city. In the year 1981, a fire destroyed a number of buildings along the river bank, but did not affect any of its monuments. Mandalay is straight, but the city is very long. Of all the markets that the city has t is the Market Clock Tower (Clock Tower), full of wonderful people, stalls of all kinds and a unique color, I recommend it to all who pass through the city of Mandalay
This pagoda is the prototype of Burmese pagoda, with a bell-shaped stupa that is painted gold. It reminds me of the Shwedagon Pagoda but its proportions are smaller. It is an important pilgrimage center. Inside one can see monks praying. The room in which there are 2 spirits or "nats", is intresting. In the corridor leading to the temple there are vendors offering products such as sand drawings, opium scales made for tourists, shirts, statues of Buddha, etc.. The tour, like in most of the pagodas in Myanmar, must be done barefoot.
Dhammayangyi Temple is the largest temple in Old Bagan. It was built by the King Narathu in the 12th century. Its structure is similar to the Ananda Temple. You can't climb the exterior of the temple, but it's worth observing, at least from the outside. There are internal stairs that take you up a little to get good views of what can be seen from this temple. It's common to find children playing there after 5:00pm. The sunset is especially beautiful from this temple, whose western walls turn a beautiful reddish colour.
Kyaiktiyo (pronounced shiatkiyo), is a huge sacred golden rock, in Kyaikto, Myanmar. Today with events and protests I do not know what travelling is like nowadays, but when I went it was beautiful and relaxing and had such nice people who were also so poor and were subjected to a military dictatorship regime. Some of the people there speak very good English and they even dare to talk to tourists. I found it very interesting to get to know a little more about their life. Kyaiktiyo is a gold-covered rock. The monks go there to meditate and bring golden leaves that cling to the rock. They say it is a very small rock with a lot of gold stuck to it! What is most impressive is not that it is huge, but also that it looks like it is about to fall. The venue is accessible for tourists and entry has to be paid, but this does not preclude respecting the silence and meditation of the monks. In the village, which is 20 minutes away, there are small hotels, restaurants and half a dozen regular connections with Yangoon.
This is one of the most sacred pagodas for Buddhists, as it houses relics of Buddha's body and hair. If you are a tourist with a camera you must pay to go in, but you will not take pictures, and nobody controls what you do once inside. You may see Buddhists praying in a crowd in the both areas where the relics of the Buddha are located, and also attended a ceremony of release of hundreds of birds in cages of wood.
When travelling the Mahabandoola Road to Sule Pagoda Road you pay $ 2 to enter and $ 1 more for pictures. This sleek and small pagoda is in downtown Yangon. Its old name, Kyaik A-thote, suggests that it was built by some king mon, since the word for pagoda was mon "Kyaik". Because it is in the center of the city, Sule pagoda itself is the heart of Yangon, where the main arteries and neighborhoods begin. Shoes must be removed when you enter and the same goes for any other temples, pagodas and houses. It is important to remember that no one should ever sit with your feet pointing towards the stupa, and rudeness is a serious lack of respect!
The Buddha of this pagod is almost 4 meters high. The amazing thing about this Buddha, made with 6 tons of bronze, is that it is coated with gold that is 5 cm thick, and there are hundreds of crown jewels, pearls, rubies, diamonds, etc. Only men can apply the gold leaf sheets to donate, and the only thing that saves this massive ornamental decoration is the face of the Buddha, that every morning at 4 am it receives a facelift with water to look fresh. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. The reason for such reverence for the Buddha is that the Buddha image was made in Buddha's life and embraced it 7 times. The pagoda was constructed by King Bodawpaya in the year 1784.
Mahagandayon Monastery is 11 kilometers from Mandalay, in the former Burmese capital of Amarapura. Around 10 in the morning over 1000 monks who live in the monastery come out to receive food from donors. Everything is planned, the monks are standing in 2 rows, volunteers distribute the food, the dining rooms are filled and they eat at the same time. It seems like a ballet. This monastery is not known for its buildings, but it is striking how big it is. It seems like a city with its schools, prayer rooms, places for the monks, laundry rooms, streets, etc..
Mandalay Hill is 240 meters above the city, and lays on a hill northeast of it, near the royal palace. Buddhists have been going on pilgrimage to the pagoda Sutaungpyei, whose name means desire fulfilled, for over 2 centuries which is not surprising because it is said to fulfill all your desires. There are 4 steps to get to the hill, one in each cardinal point. I recommend going around sunset to see the the views over the city of Mandalay, an incredible experience.