Burma is mostly a Buddhist country, I learned that 95 percent of the people in Burma are Buddhist and it’s quite clear actually, because there are temples and Buddha statues everywhere we visited. The Burmese people have three very holy Buddhist sites in Yangon (the former capital), the Golden Rock on Mount Kyaiktiyo, and Mahamuni in Mandalay. If you’re Buddhist, then visiting these three sites is very important and a pilgrimage for the people. I made sure that my Aunt and I saw all three of the holy sites because I wanted to understand more about why these three sites were so holy to the Burmese people.
Visiting Shwedagon Paya in Yangon, Burma
The easiest of the holiest sites to visit is Shwedagon Paya in Yangon. And let me just say, it was so humongous. I mean, when I first glanced at it, I was thinking there is no way Burma could be such a poor country with a temple like this! Most of the pagoda is made out of thick, pure gold with so many varieties of jewels decorating the very top. An an earthquake long ago destroyed part of Shwedagon , and as they repaired it, they found a lot of different jewels like rubies and diamonds, and the most impressive was a huge 76 carat diamond at the very tip-top!
That’s not even the best part though, what I really liked about it was the beauty.
The entire temple area was just so shiny; the sun made Shwedagon glisten as if glitter had just been sprinkled all over it. Shwedagon’s chedi was so tall that when I turned my neck and tried to look at the top, I felt like I was about to fall over. That might be because I was trying to look up at it while standing so close to it, but still, you get the picture…it was tall!
We also met a lot of people who asked if we would take pictures with them, and that made me feel really happy because I think it’s great that there aren’t so many tourists here, so few that they still were happy we came to visit and randomly asked if they could have their picture taken with me.
One thing that happened at Shwedagon that was really unexpected is that I saw John Mcain. It’s weird because you’d think that there wouldn’t be anybody that’s really important as you’re just walking around and then McCain was literally four feet away from me! I love random things that happen like that, and I was really surprised to see him here especially when he winked at me as he was walking by our group!
While walking around the temple, I could smell incense, which I love because it’s such a light smell, and it makes me feel calm and relaxed. When I walked around the some of the smaller temples around the big Shwedagon chedi, the only thing I heard was the hum of people chanting in unison. I wish that everywhere in the world, you could hear the same thing I heard because it was so beautiful and their chant reminded me of the delicate flutter of a butterfly.
Up next time is the second holy site in Burma, the big Golden Rock known as Kyaiktiyo Pagoda!