Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Golden Rock

We left Yangon on a Saturday morning and arrived at the foot of Golden rock in about 4.5 hours.  It was too hot to head for the top in an open truck so we decided to get up the next morning early when it would be cooler.  The rock, a 7.5 meter high piece of granite is perched high on a cliff,  held in place by the hair of the Buddha which he gave to a hermit during his lifetime.  Over the years the rock has been completely covered with gold leaf by the pilgrims who come in large numbers to visit this very sacred site.  Only men are allowed to touch the rock.  you must take a truck up the winding road to the top mountain..  Then you walk the last distance yourself.  If you are not able or don't want  to walk there are palaquins borne by 4 men to carry you up in style.  And since many stay overnight at the top, there are porters to carry your luggage.  In a way the people watching is more interesting than the rock itself.

Entrance arch.  Monks, porters and the general public.  Its about 6.30 am

Us with Golden Rock behind us

Hustle and bustle.  Note the porters baskets carrying bedding down for those who slept overnight at the top

Warmly dressed pilgrims heading home and a monk collecting alms
A nat house in the tree.  Only men could enter

The rock with the men touching it, middle left
Andy among the other men touching the rock

The general traffic, all barefoot
Woman on a palaquin

And below the trucks at the base of the mountain

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Our place

We live in a 1+ bedroom apartment, one floor above the street.  We're right in the middle of Hleden Market which is so busy from 6 am till 9.30 pm that taxis don't go there.  These are just a few photos from inside our place.  There is no lobby.  A locked grill at street level leads to a dark cement stairway.  After one flight we unlock a door on to our balcony and from there another lock into our living room.  We have AC in the living room and bedroom and a huge tub of water in a sort of utility room for when the power fails and the pump can't be turned on.  And grocery shopping is at the foot of the stairs!

Our living room with our gang.  The kitchen is behind.. the bedroom is to the right.  We don't own the stuff on the shelves!

A balcony just like ours but across the street

The living room as it usually looks.  The TV has 1 English channel and the speakers don't have wires.  

The little nuns come singing every morning asking people for food or donations.  There are many bunches of them

This old man and his grandchildren sit and make rhythms almost every day and people give donations

We've covered holes with torn up mosquito net!

Here's the tub for when the pump can't work

Kitchen.  Two burner hotplate and toaster.  And the sink is the onlt basin we have.  But it works!  And you can see more green torn up net way up to the left of the sink

The Caves in Shan State

Near Inle but instead of going to Inle from the Heho Airport, you go into the Shan Hills.  Here there are caves and over the years people have brought 3000 Buddhas here in memory of parents, children or to give thanks for important events.  Nearby we  watched as paper was made from the bark of mulberry trees, the same ones that silkworms eat.

Note all the covered stairways up to the caves.  And the elevator to the right!

In the caves

Walls of Buddhas

A family picture with the giant spider outside the caves

Andy with the giant soider

Pounding the mulberry bark for paper

Heading down the road


Monday, 16 February 2015

More Inle Lake

So here I will do some more of the Inle Lake photos

The fibre is cleverly pulled from the stems of the pink lotus flower

And then when the fibre is spun it can be woven into this very expensive cloth

Gardens and sheds for growing tomatoes, squash etc

Digging in the compost from the lake bottom

Collecting muck for compost

A little 4 year old practises using scissors as she cuts the cheroot labels

After a long day
On the canals

Inle Lake

On the weekend we visited Inle Lake and the famous Inthar tribe one footed paddler fishermen.  It was a terrific break and it was so nice to be cool!  The nightime temperatures were in the 40's F so we actually needed blankets!  The fishermen paddle their boats with one leg to keep their hands free to handle nets.  They also build their houses over the water on long stilts and tend floating gardens made of mats of vegetation which are built up and fertilized by muck they dig out of the shallow lake bottom.  We also saw cloth being woven from Lotus stem fibre (more expensive than silk) and cheroots (cigars) being made.  Then there were the Pao people in their red scarf headgear and the Padaung women with the rings on their necks to make them longer, the more to ressemble dragons.  And there was much much more!  this blog does best with 8 photos or so at a time so i will do a couple of batches!
Inthar tribe fishermen 

fisherman at work

Pao women having breakfast

they loved having their photos taken!

An archeaological site of stupas from the 18th and 19th centuries.  A monastery was nearby.  Taken mainly for the satellite dish and the monk hanging out his laundry!

The site was huge!

MoeMoe our guide for the day told us that the Boda tree leaf was used as a model for the stupas and pagodas.  The bottom part formed the base and the top was separated to become the hti or umbrella.  MoeMoe is from the Inthar tribe

Long necked Padaung women.  I remember a National Geographic article about them when I was 10 or 11.

The houses on stilts of the Inthar tribe.  They still have electricity!

Monday, 9 February 2015

The best sign!!

This is the best sign in Yangon.  You see them in a number of public places.  this one is in The People's Park

Around my office

I work at Myanmar Egress, a civil society organization formed in 2007 to teach social science subjects which were not being taught in schools or universities.  They have been teaching courses to develop human capital in the country and give people the skills to push for a better Myanmar. The focus is mainly on youth but some courses have been given to business people, media to help with better reporting from conflict zones, politicians.

The 23rd batch of Egress grads.  Many have now started their own NGOs Moe the director is in pink in the front
The president of egress addresses the grads
One place to have lunch is at a little restaurant over the back fence.  they pass the food through or over and the tables stay on Egress side.  Saves a big walk around

Swann and me by the fence

This was our Christmas tree.  Its still right there!

Egress consists of three long parralel buildings like this

On the day of the christmas party everyone prepared a huge meal.  We are doing fruit.  Everyone is in uniform

My friend Phyo who answers all my questions 

Giant stir fry

Julia and I usually eat here in the canteen, lots of rice a number of curries and tea.. all for 60 cents
Cuso wanted a photo of us at work so we came and joined the English Dept just outside my area.  Staff wear uniforms; for management its optional tho they often do wear them