“Music saves the soul”. Play softly while you read.
It was Christmas day last 2014 when I traveled to Asia’s Golden Land via Singapore Airlines. I was feeling mixed emotions of exhilaration and fear, timidness and confidence, all at once. I felt like I was missing the joy of gatherings and festivities with my loved ones and friends, but the thought that I’ll be hitting the roads anonymously had made me feel like I was already home too. I flew again, on a very important holiday for Filipinos, alone, excited to explore another country and satisfy my soul’s craving for adventure. I have thoroughly researched everything about travelling in Myanmar and I felt comfortable booking a flight after I’ve read many travel blogs about how this country is so safe for solo female globetrotters and how lovely it is to traverse the popular Burmese cities from Yangon to Inle to Bagan and back to Yangon. I picked Myanmar because I met this handsome french guy who was really enthusiastic of sharing me his adventures in Burma that got me so whimsical to pack my bags and just go.
I arrived in Yangon around late morning, but I was too sleepy and tired from Christmas eve celebration with friends so I decided to take a nap at Hotel Bahosi first and woke up around 2pm. The room is quite good for its price and I think it offers a very comfortable solo female flashpacker accommodation. I had lunch in a Chinese restaurant near the hotel and started my Yangon expedition via a private cab I hired. He was actually the cab driver who took me from airport to the hotel. I trusted this long haired, rock star look-a-like dude in longyi that he’ll take me to popular tourist attractions around Yangon.
High tech!! Honestly, i was really amazed after seeing this digital touch panel inside the hotel’s elevator. . i have not seen the same in Singapore!! hehe. .
I went first to the very colorful Bogyoke Aung San Market as I was advised it’s closing at around 5pm. I enjoyed compulsive shopping of gypsy bracelets made of Jade and other beads for less than a dollar for one piece. I bought a painting too (that made me so mad when I lost it when I was about to fly from Yangon back to Singapore) which I find to be absolutely cheap just like in Siem Reap, of course you have to haggle hard. There are many other interesting stuff in the market I wished I could purchase and take home with me back to Singapore or at least ship back to Philippines, specially those skillfully handcrafted wood carvings, so lovely as I remember.
Secondly, my tour guide/cab driver drove me to the center of downtown Yangon to see the Sule Pagoda amidst the Burmese political infrastructures – the City Hall, the Independence Monument in the middle of a grassy park, and the High Court. Sule Pagoda has a typical gold dome-shape stupa surrounded by Buddhas. The admission fee to see the interiors of the pagoda is worth 5 USD. I have not seen the Shwedagon pagoda yet when I visited Sule and I was already mesmerized by the latter.
Next, I have visited the Chaukhtatgyi Paya, the home for Yangon’s giant reclining Buddha, second biggest in South East Asia after the one in Bangkok. I met a soon-to-be-monk who happened to be friendly and shared to me interesting facts about the place and all the religious practices and rituals dutifully done by the Buddhist locals and believers. I have ingested a few of these Buddhist thoughts from my new found friend and respected the fact that even if these people have different religion than mine, they are still good people and hardcore devotees of good teachings (from Buddha).
I got too tired of this short trip and decided to go home after the last temple I visited. I skipped the Shwedagon on my first night and promised myself to see this ultimate Yangon attraction when I get back to catch my flight to Singapore. I went home and chatted with friends and loved ones, because, hey, it was Christmas day. I packed my things again and slept to prepare for the next day’s adventure.
Ringing Bells in Buddhism: Evokes Protective Deities
The bell symbolizes Buddha’s voice. It calls for the protection of heavenly deities. The sound of the bell equals the sound of the Dharma, or the entity or law, which sustains the order of things in the universe. Some sects of Buddhism call this the ”Mystic Law” as well. Depending on the sect of Buddhism practiced, these protective deities can exist outside the practitioner — more like minor gods in some religions — or represent a function of the higher self, called Buddhahood. In the latter case, the protective forces come from within the practitioner’s own life. For example, a good mother can represent the heavenly deity.