The morning market
Getting to Gwa entails quite a journey either 10 hours over rolling hills from Yangon or for the car sick people like me the easier way of flying to Thandwe and then 4 hours along a winding but not sickening coastal route. You also need a permit as it is in Rakhine State but that's pretty easy to obtain. Once there it's wonderful, Pure Burma. The lively morning market in Gwa township last from 6am - 11am. Many small thatched stalls selling an array of fish, vegetables, and meat with the center of the market housing the Mohinga stalls. All around a pervasive smell of dried fish and fresh flowers.
Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup from Myanmar and is an essential part of Burmese cuisine. It is considered by many to be the national dish. It is readily available in most parts of the country. In major cities, street hawkers and roadside stalls sell dozens of dishes of mohinga to the locals and passers-by. Usually eaten for breakfast, although today the dish is being consumed more and more throughout the day.
I have been trying to keep this site a Corona free zone, but I have been so moved by the pictures and stories that I have seen in the last few days from India. As we all probably know India locked down is 1.3 billion people last week. With 4 hours warning interstate transportation stopped. There are hundreds of thousands of day to day migrant workers in the cities, especially Delhi, that now without work or pay have no alternative than to ignore the lockdown and WALK back to their villages. With businesses shut down in cities across the country, vast numbers of migrants — many of whom lived and ate where they worked — were suddenly without food and shelter. Thousands of migrants, including whole families, packed their pots, pans and blankets into rucksacks, some balancing children on their shoulders as they walked along interstate highways. Some planned to walk hundreds of miles. It is said to be the largest migration of people since partition in 1947. This image was taken back in 2003 in Madhya Pradesh a group of pilgrims camped for the night before continuing their long walk.
The Hand of Buddha
Strolling over the Bagan plains in the warm afternoon light with the warmth of the days sun radiating back from the ground and temples,I was stopped by the hand of the Buddha illuminated in the doorway. What a magic moment - what perfect birthday this had been.
Which way to the...ap
While we were scouring the streets to find an English speaking apotheek for a diagnosis of severe ear ache for Keith we bumped into these three English teachers from the local school relaxing in between classes with a pot of tea. Of course, they wanted to talk to us about the ear ache and much more. The teacher in the blue longtime spoke very good English having learnt from the an Englishman many years ago, the teacher in the pinkish longly however, was hard to understand through his ascent and his mouthful of beetle nut pan. I wonder how the kids managed.
I don't think Bagan needs an introduction, I won't repeat what has been written many times before. It was not our intention to visit Bagan this trip having seen in a few times in the past and wanted to cherish the older memories, however friends of ours were visiting Bagan and we were so close-by plus it was my birthday, and cherished memories or not, how bad can Bagan be for a couple of days with friends. Of course, we saw changes, e-scooters bouncing across the dusty paths, many, many Chinese tourists in the main temples. (China is now the new market for Burma, now the Europeans numbers are dwindling) but despite this it is still very much possible to find yourself almost alone in beautiful spots and enjoy Bagan and your birthday with friends.
Pretty in PInk
A group of nuns dressed in the pink robes wander the streets of Monywa, making their last alms round of the day. Stopping at shops and homes collecting mostly food and sometimes a few kyat. It is not a solemn affair and often the young nuns can be seen having fun and enjoying their walk outside the monastery and their studies.
A few years ago when we visited Monywa, opposite our hotel (the Win Unity) was an island and perched on this island was a small local restaurant selling really good food and cold beers. Each evening we strolled across the road at sunset drank a cold Myanmar beer while watching the lake turn pink and the birds settling down for the night. This January, we stayed once again in the Win Unity, but on the island opposite our restaurant had gone and a new temple complex had appeared. No cold beers but the views at sunset were still worth the stroll.
A trio of Buddhas
Taking a look Inside one of the 492 buddha chambers carved into a limestone hillside between the 14th and 18th centuries. None of the 'caves' are more than a few yards deep, and many are just big enough for a single Buddha but a few of the best (notably caves 478 and 480) have retained well-executed murals. and room for more Buddha images. Others, though, are returning to the dust from which they came, but this only adds to the sense of discovery.
Hpo Win Daung
The old temple complex of Hpo Win Daung, close to Monywa, have almost 500 Buddha chambers/caves which are carved into the surrounding soft limestone hillside. The chambers dates from the 14th to the 18th centuries and as well as the Buddha images in the caves, some of the larger ones are also painted with fabulous colourful murals telling local Buddhist legends.
Kiek a booh
The old temple complex of Hpo Win Daung, close to Monywa, have almost 500 Buddha chambers/caves which are carved into the surrounding soft limestone hillside. The chambers dates from the 14th to the 18th centuries and as well as the Buddha images in the caves, some of the larger ones are also painted with fabulous colourful murals telling local Buddhist legends. Many monkeys roam around the complex hoping to be fed fruit by the locals
A story with a happy.
A couple of weeks ago I told you the story of how this fish-owl was rescued from the cooking pot and was being looked after whilst his wing was mending. I can happily conclude this story by telling you that this wing has healed and the owl has been set free in the forest behind Rakhine beach. Although I understand the he keeps coming back to the guest house having established during his time in captivity a taste for mice.
With only two trains a day running through the station at Pyin Oo Lwin you best get the times right otherwise its a long wait. I like the advertisement behind him on the bench he was sleeping, perhaps that's why he choose this one.
Koeien en pagodes
In een droge vlakte, slechts begroeid met wat palmen, strekt Bagan zich over een oppervlakte van 40 km2 uit. De vlakte is bezaaid met meer dan 2.200 pagodes, kleine en grote. Bagan is het grootste Boeddhistische ruïnegebied ter wereld en onmiskenbaar één van de indrukwekkendste plaatsen van Zuidoost Azië. Tussen deze ruines wonen mensen, zij bebouwen hun land en laten er ook koeien grazen. Koeien en tempelruines, ik vond het wel een mooi combinatie.
Why so fast?
Why so fast? she may say to the young schoolboy who speeds past her ox and cart. For her she has all the time in the world, swaying from side to side as the oxen kick up the dust along the path. What used to be a daily life scene is now becoming a rarity as Burma slowly changes.
In Birma worden al sinds 1400 poppen gespeeld (Yoke Thay). In de jaren 1700 begon het koninklijk hof formeel het poppentheater te sponsoren en te reguleren. Het groeide snel in aanzien en populariteit. Op het hoogtepunt van zijn populariteit tussen 1820 en 1885 werd het poppentheater in Birma als superieur aan het live theater beschouwd, zoals de mate van vaardigheid en expertise die de poppenspelers vertoonden. Sommige poppen werden beroemd in het hele land en werden onmiddellijk herkend en zeer geliefd bij de mensen. In traditionele hofoptredens konden marionetten vrijuit spreken waar menselijke acteurs niet konden. De kleine artiesten werden gebruikt om berichten, waarschuwingen en grieven door te geven die anders onuitgesproken zouden blijven.
Cheroots are traditional Burmese cigars that are smoked by both men and especially women. They are made by hand in small workshops. The typical Burmese cheroots contains coconut, banana, star anise, anise oil, tobacco and tamarind and are wrapped in a green leaf. Especially in the countryside, cheroots are still made at home and often are of a pretty good size.
We met this elegant Chin lady near Monywa she like us was a tourist visiting the vast cave temple complex at Po Win Daung. The site is thought to have been conceived in the 14th century, though cave temple construction went on until quite recently. The majority seem to be, 14th to 17th centuries, while most of the fading interior murals are reckoned to be 17th or 18th centuries. Footpaths and stone staircases link one to another. She looked so photogenic standing in the stairwell and with her purple clothes.