The holiest and the most
Monywa Travel Blog› entry 14 of 27 › view all entries
When we wake up the sky is grey, an odd perception when youâ€™re used to bright blue skies, but it started getting cloudier yesterday already, when we approached Mandalay. It has been raining this night, and how...
We leave by bus at eight a.m. and we will spend the night in Monywa, to return to Mandalay tomorrow. We have been told to take a minimum of luggage, we wonâ€™t be needing much since it is only for one night.
Still in the city we stop near a workshop where gold leaf is produced, the process is simple, but it is very hard work.
When we are back on the bus we see a shop were leather goods are sold, just opposite of the gold leaf workshop, and an array of snakeskins are dried outside to make sure everybody knows what can be bought here.
We stay in the wet Mandalay for a little while longer to visit the Mahamuni Paya, the most sacred and largest temple of the city. The temple has four entrances, the eastern one being the main entrance. On the sides of the covered lanes to the sanctum are stalls selling almost everything and it should be possible to buy good souvenirs here, if that had been our goal. The four metre high bronze Buddha image that sits in the sanctum was supposedly cast during the lifetime of the Buddha and the Buddha himself touched it seven times to give it â€ślifeâ€ť.
North of the central square of the temple stands a little building that houses six bronze statues from the 11th century; two warriors, three lions and the three-headed elephant Erawan, that is the riding-animal of the Hindu god Indra. These images come from the Cambodian temple complex Ankor Wat and, after being in numerous different places, ended up here in Mandalay.
In another building stand two huge figures carrying a beam with a traditional Burmese gong. It looks like the structure has been built around them, because the images hardly fit.
During the bus ride to another weaving mill (that we visit to bridge a time gap, but that isnâ€™t really interresting) our guide tells us that every offering in a temple has a purpose; offering flowers gives beauty in the next life, offering gold brings wealth, and so on.
A little before ten a.m. we get to the Maha Ganayon Kyaung (Kyaung means monastery) and here we can once again witness how the monks line up to receive and eat their last meal of the day. Although this monastery houses far more monks than the monasteries we have visited before, and it is a training centre for monks as well, it is also far more touristic and therefor lacking the authentic, intimate atmosphere we have experienced before. As soon as we get off the bus women and girls meet us with tiny children in their arms, all of them with beautifully painted faces, ready to be photographed. I can guess what will happen next and within two minutes I am proven right. Someone takes a picture and immediately the woman asks for money. Not surprising, but also not adding to the authenticity of the monastery, giving it a commercial feel.
Our bus stops when it can go no further, a small ferry has to take us to the other side of the water, where Ava, the old city of kings lies. On the boat, girls with lovely flowers in their pitch black hair try to sell us sun hats and they are very persistent, even though the sun hasnâ€™t showed its face for a second today. Along with the local pedestrians and cyclists we are dropped on the shore near Ava (a.k.a. Inwe) where we continue in horse carts.
As we go further the track gets narrower and muddier. We are litteraly going through the fields,heading for a patch of jungle with only a pagoda rising above it. After a while we reach the Bagaya Kyaung, built in 1834, consisting completely of teak wood.
After we had a nice crab soup and sweet-and-sour crab shears lunch in the Small River Restaurant, we are waiting for the ferry again at two oâ€™clock sharp.
The minute we set foot in our faithful bus, the heavens open their flood gates, sending down rains that will not stop before we go to bed tonight. Further on the way to Monywa we visit the Tamboddhay Temple. Nobody can believe what this looks like, unless they have seen it themselves. The complex houses 582,363 smaller and larger statues of the Buddha and everything is painted in bright colours that, should the sun shine, must be blinding to the eye. On our bare feet we wade through extensive pools of water, while hiding under umbrellas. The moment we find shelter inside the temple electricity fails, but thereâ€™s still enough light to have a look around. Every wall and pillar is covered by Buddhas, inside as well as on the exterior.
From here it is a relatively short drive to Monywa. The hotel is far from fantastic, but it is only for one night. The restaurant in the hotel is pretty good (they serve nice Sweet Shrimp and Hot-and-Sour Squid dishes), and should the weather have been better we surely would have stayed up longer. But now we are the first ones to go to our room.
Our shower is nice and hot (it takes a long time for the warm water to get from the main building to our room, but eventually it does), but the bathroom floor is dirty and both our bathroom and bedroom are crawling with mosquitos, but the airconditioning will keep the little bloodsuckers at a distance.