Friday, August 1, 2014

Mandalay - Part Three - Impressions of Myanmar - Burma

On our third day in Mandalay we took the morning ferry to the ancient city of Mingun on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River about 11km(7 miles) upstream from Mandalay. Just under an hour on the public service ferry boats especially laid on for tourists, which leave the Mayanchan jetty early every morning.

The first photo at the top of the post was taken from the ticket office for the ferry to Mingun and shows the tourist area for the jetty. The people wearing the yellow jackets were the 'Tourist Police' there to supervise. My daughter and I had our photo taken with two of them and I will use this photo today and the one in the office on my photography blog for 'World at Work' and 'Faces on Friday' LindyLouMac's World in Photos  The jetty was actually very busy apart from the tourist boats as shown in the next photo.





We did wonder if we were going to be travelling on a ferry like this one above, but there were special boats for the tourists, which was just as well I think! However to get to our boat we did still have to walk a very precarious plank which was fun.





Approaching Mingun even from a distance the view of the enormous ruins of the Mingun Phato Pagoda towers over everything is impressive. Built by King Bodawpaya it was intended to be the largest pagoda in the world, only a third of it was ever completed, but it is still a spectacular sight.  At the time of our visit it was closed to the public due to the state it is in, but maybe one day it will once again be possible to climb this amazing structure.





On arrival we explored the village and I took loads of photos of which I have selected just a few to share here. We did not use the taxi's we walked!




 Pondaw Pagoda 



 Hsinbyume Pagoda (Myatheindan Pagoda) was built by King Bagyidaw in 1816, in memory of his favorite wife. Its unusual architecture is quite striking. It is based on the Sulamani Pagoda on the peak of the mythical golden mountain of Meru, which is the center of the universe in Buddhist-Hindu cosmology. Seven terraces with with undulating rails - representing the seven mountain ranges around Mount Meru - lead up the stupa, and all the way along are niches in which mythical monsters such as Nats, orgres and Nagas (mythical serpents) stand guard.




The Mingun Bell, with a height of 3.7 metres,  is said to be the largest working bell in the world. The Kremlin bell in Moscow is actually bigger but it is cracked and therefore not in use. Weighing 90 metric tons, the Mingun Bell was cast in bronze in 1808, and once it was completed the master craftsman was executed in order to stop him making anything similar!  These young ladies asked to have their photos taken with my daughter, we were such a novelty to them.









After lunch we took the ferry back to Mayanchan jetty and returned to our hotel for a few hours relaxation before meeting up again in the early evening with our friendly guide, Poonya to have a drink together and enjoy the sunset at the 'Dagon Beer Station' 









We returned to our hotel for supper and an early night as Poonya was collecting us the next morning at 5.30am. We were catching a ferry to Bagan, a ten hour trip on the Ayeyarwady River, which will be the subject of my next Myanamar post.


If you have missed my earlier posts about Our Myanmar Trip and want to catch up, here are the links.


Yangon - First Impressions of Myanmar

Yangon - Further First Impressions of Myanmar
Mandalay - Part One - Impressions of Myanmar
Mandalay - Part Two - Impressions of Myanmar - Burma
You can also find reviews of some of the places mentioned today on my Trip Advisor - LindyLouMac account.


With thanks to the following sites for some of the background information included in this post. The links will take you directly to the official websites if you are interested in learning more about Mandalay. I also used my Insight Guide to Myanmar for reference.

Myanmar Travel Information    Mandalay Region - Wikipedia    


Mandalay - The City - Wikipedia   Mandalay Poem - Wikipedia   Words to Mandalay - Kipling Society
  

Facebook - Ilikemyanmar - Information Channel    

Mingun - Wikipedia    Trip Advisor - Mingun Paya


 

                  All photos are my own taken in December 2013 unless otherwise mentioned.

More Mandalay photos can be found on Flickr in My Album entitled Mandalay, Myanmar. which contains over 500 photos just from our three days!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Corpus Christi Celebrations - Marta - Italy


Marta may only be a small participant when it comes to Corpus Christi Celebrations, for me that makes it even more poignant that the locals rally around to work together and decorate the road outside their own neighbourhoods in preparation for the Annual Corpus Christi Procession. This year it took place on Sunday June 22nd, it is an event which is celebrated all over Italy with Infiorate/flower displays on the streets made with petals, from fresh flowers where possible but augmented with paper and coloured wood chippings.  Whilst Marta’s celebration of the event may not be one of the larger events that take place in Italy, it is still something that many people in our little town are proud to take part in.

I am not a Catholic so am unable to comment on the significance of the event but I am able to share my photos with you, which I hope will tell the story of how seriously even a small village takes this event. 

On Sunday morning just a few hours before the procession was due to begin, the area was suddenly a hive of activity, as everyone prepared their displays.














                          An altar was set up ready for the service.


                                             The Procession










 I previously wrote about this event on my blog News From Italy back in 2011.
  1. The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), also known as Corpus Domini, is a Latin Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist.  Wikipedia

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mandalay - Part Two - Impressions of Myanmar - Burma


Maha Muni
On our second full day in Mandalay we decided to once again use the services of the guide we had met, Ponnya.  No slacking though as we had a lot to achieve if we wanted to see as much as possible of the region with just a three night stay here. We had an idea of the places we wanted to see so with Ponnya's advice we had a very full itinerary, collected at 8am we did not return to Peacock Lodge until after sunset.  After a long busy day we were happy to spend the evening at the hotel and enjoy the local cuisine they serve, whilst chatting about the experiences of the day of which there were many. I could write many posts for this day alone, but it is already taking me far too long to share my impressions of this wonderful country with you! I will therefore keep words and photos to a minimum so I do not overload by sharing too much at once. For those that are really interested in seeing more photos of Mandalay, more can be found on Flickr in My Album entitled Mandalay, Myanmar. which contains over 500 photos just from our three days!

The photo tour in this post includes both places of historic and cultural interest, visits to artisan craftsmen and beautiful stunning scenic locations, shown in the order of visiting.  For more details on any of the places mentioned, there are links to various websites at the end of this post. I hope you enjoy this virtual trip to Mandalay, please let me know your impressions if you have a moment to leave a comment, which will be appreciated thankyou.


Maha Muni Pagoda The most respected Buddhist shrine in Mandalay, thanks to the presence in its central chamber of a magnificent gold Buddha image, 'Maha Muni' 'Great Sage' 3.8 metres high and covered in so much gold leaf it weighs six tons. 




The face really does shine like this as it is polished at 4.30 am and 4.00 pm every day by the monks.

The streets around the Maha Muni Pagoda are home to the craftsmen of Mandalay, where we went next to experience traditional methods of craftsmanship using gold, stone, wood and fabric, all absolutely fascinating.
  





We then drove to Amarapura a former capital of Myanmar, now a suburb of Mandalay. Amarapura is bounded by the Irrawaddy river in the west, Chanmyathazi township in the north, and the ancient capital site of Ava in the south. It is also home to one of the largest monasteries in Myanamar and sometimes houses as many as 1,200 monks. Mahagandhayon Monastery welcomes visitors and it is an impressive sight to witness the hundreds of monks lining up for their one daily meal every morning, and this is what we were lucky enough to experience. 


Monasteries are an integral part of life in Myanmar and although some people may question the intrusion, our guide assured us it is not seen like this. It is important for people to see the way of life in Myanmar, in fact Ponnya was very proud of the fact that he had been a monk during his education. He felt privileged to have been educated in a monastery and told us that his parents had been able to send him because he was the second son and therefore not needed to stay at home as the first born is expected to do.







The next stop on our itinerary for the day was Sagaing Hill located on the opposite bank of the Ayeywarwady River about 20km to the south west of Manadalay. It is an important religious centre and the hillside is covered with numerous pagodas and monasteries.




We visited the Sun U  Ponya Shin Pagoda a popular place to enjoy the wonderful views from.




While up there we also visited U Min Thonze Pagoda which is just a little further north and houses 45 Buddha images in a crescent shaped grotto elaborately decorated in red and turquoise glass mosaics.





Next on our agenda was lunch and our guide had decided that we should take a short ferry trip across the Myitnge River to Inwa (Ava) an ancient city that was the ancient imperial capital of Burmese kingdoms between the 14C and 19C. The title of capital of Burma seems to have depended on where the royal family of the time were living. After our lunch we took a horse and buggy ride around the surrounding countryside to get a feel of what the city must have been like. Not much left now apart from archaeological ruins and beautiful scenery plus a surprising number of tourists, we did not see many Westerners though. At every point of interest we stopped and were given the opportunity to explore and take photos. I could have written a post on Inwa alone, but as already pointed out, it would take me forever to share this wonderful trip with you, if I go into too much detail! It has however been very difficult to choose a small selection of photos to share, so maybe one day I will find the time to write some posts dedicated to specific places of interest, you never know!

For now if you are interested in seeing more of Inwa, lots more photos can be found on Flickr in My Album entitled Mandalay, Myanmar.
Ferry
Our Transport
Bagaya Monastery
Bagaya Monastery

This ancient teak wood monastery was one of the highlights of the Inwa trip for me. Magnificent in its weather aged appearance and decorated with beautiful carvings.
Yadana Hsemee Pagoda
View from Yadana Hsemee Pagoda
Nanymin Watchtower
Not much to see but it is historically important to the people of Myanmar as it is all that remains of the palace and for that reason it is included on the horse and buggy tour. The so called 'leaning tower of Inwa' is just under thirty metres in height and its upper portion collapsed way back in 1838 after an earthquake. As the earth sunk below it soon afterwards it began to lean to one side. Amazing it is still standing!


Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery
The best preserved of all the buildings in Inwa.
U Bein Bridge
We returned via the river ferry to meet up with our guide again and drive to our final destination of the day U Bein Bridge. It is an absolute must, to take a walk across apparently the oldest teak bridge in the world. By the time we arrived it was the early evening, so after our stroll along the bridge we took a boat out into the lake to watch the sunset, a beautiful experience. The place was fairly busy with people taking a 'passeggiata', along the bridge or a boat out onto the lake, but that added to the atmosphere. 
Sunset at U Bein Bridge - Photo courtesy of my daughter - SMCF
 A perfect end to a perfect day.

If you have missed my earlier posts about Our Myanmar Trip here are the links.


Yangon - First Impressions of Myanmar

Yangon - Further First Impressions of Myanmar
Mandalay - Part One - Impressions of Myanmar

You can also find reviews of some of the places mentioned today on my Trip Advisor - LindyLouMac account.

With thanks to the following sites for some of the background information included in this post. The links will take you directly to the official websites if you are interested in learning more about Mandalay. I also used my Insight Guide to Myanmar for reference.

 Myanmar Travel Information    Mandalay Region - Wikipedia     Maha Muni Pagoda


 Mandalay - The City - Wikipedia   Mandalay Poem - Wikipedia   Words to Mandalay - Kipling Society
  

 Facebook - Ilikemyanmar - Information Channel                Amarapura   

  Trip Advisor - Mahagandhayon Monastery    Inwa - Wikipedia     Bagaya Monastery


  Trip Advisor - Nanmyin Watchtower

                              All photos are my own taken in December 2013 unless otherwise mentioned.

More Mandalay photos can be found on Flickr in My Album entitled Mandalay, Myanmar. which contains over 500 photos just from our three days!