Myanmar captivates with mystical charm

Another tourist’s account of Indochina, this time to Burma, through a three-week archaeological tour.

1 April 2007 (San Jose Mercury News) – Another tourist’s account of Indochina, this time to Burma, through a three-week archaeological tour.

Myanmar captivates with mystical charm

Woozy from jet lag and blinded by a golden reflection of light, I was struck speechless the first time I saw Shwedagon Pagoda.

The shimmering bell-shaped stupa reigning over the 14-acre Shwedagon complex – and indeed over the city itself – is the heart and soul of Yangon. Devotees and visitors come to pray, meet friends, meditate, burn incense, chant or, like me, to just stand dumbstruck.

I still might be standing there if I hadn’t become engrossed in the traditional clockwise stroll around the mosaic-covered columns, spires, prayer pavilions and hundreds of images of Buddha that fill every nook and cranny.

The glistening 32-story stupa is topped by a golden orb studded with 4,350 diamonds and precious stones. Inside, away from the faithful and onlookers, are said to be relics of Buddha. So it’s easy to see why it is the most revered site in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma.

To our little band of Westerners, it was Wonderland.


Related Books:
Bagan by B. Broman
– Recent developments in the archaeology of Myanma Pyay (Burma): an introduction. (Editorial) by M. A. Aung-Thwin and M. T. Stark
Shwedagon: Golden Pagoda of Myanmar by E. Moore and U Win Pe

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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