Monday, February 10, 2014

FEBRUARY 22, 2014: MORE SIGHTSEEING, SUNSET AT MANDALAY HILL


February 22, 2014

     For some reason I can't get any internet connection.  I brought my I PAD with me and it has all our hotel/flight info, etc.  Good thing I printed out those calendar pages I did before leaving home.  I know some may say it's OCD to do that but at least I have flight and hotel info written down.  Internet in Bagan was intermittent also.  I look out the window and see a herd of cows?/cattle walking down the street.  How cool is that!  Breakfast-I want to see if the egg station guy can get my egg cooked right again and he does.  Egg over easy is not that difficult so I don't know why so many had trouble getting it right for me.  The egg was always cooked too much with the yolk being fully cooked and well I'll stop now as it's getting boring for me to even type this!!



My sad looking breakfast-toast and 1 egg OE.


Husband's breakfast looks appetizing

Lots of cooked food to choose
   



     We meet Zaw, our driver, at 8:30 am.  What I liked was he asked before taking us to any workshops and wasn't upset when we declined to go to some he suggested.  Our first place for today is SHWEINBIN MONASTERY  Very pretty.  This teak (tropical hardwood tree-has a leather like smell when freshly cut and is known for its durability and resistance to water)  building was built in 1895 by Chinese jade merchants.  Wealthy individuals would often build these elaborate monasteries as a donation to earn merit.    It's still in good condition.  Built on a classical teak foundation and raised platform for ventilation and protection from snakes.  Tiered roof with beautiful carvings.  Scenes on the inside show court and daily life.   Surrounding wooden deck.  A living monastery.  Natural teak forests only 4 countries-Myanmar, India, Laos, and Thailand.  Expensive.  I believe that as of 2014 there is a ban on the export of virgin teak by the Myanmar gov't.











Surrounding deck











Beautiful






Other buildings for the monks who live here.
   




     MAHAMUNI  Buddha image is the most revered in Mandalay.  Completely covered in gold by locals.  Only men allowed to apply the gold leaf to the image.  Image has become distorted due to all the gold leaf.  TV screen.  Seated posture-Bumi Phasa Mudras.    Cast in bronze and its crown is decorated with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires.  Every morning around 5:00 am monks wash the face of the Buddha.  Only 5 likenesses of Buddha made during his lifetime.  Gautama Buddha visited Arakan 554 B.C.  King Thuriya asked that an image was cast of him/Gautama.  After casting the  image the Gautama Buddha breathed upon it and then the image became the exact likeness of the Mahamuni/Great Sage.  This is how the story goes.  Opens 4:00 am.  Fee $1 per camera.




Applying gold leaf

No ladies are allowed to enter


TV screen so you can see the gold leaf being put on the Buddha








Lots of bare feet



This tells the historical story of the bronzes' journey
3 headed elephant

Is this the warrior guardian statue??













I bought my black teak elephant from this guy

     TAPESTRY AND WOOD CARVING PLACE  I wanted to buy a tapestry so we stopped here.  You could see women working on tapestries and men on the wood carvings.  I bought a small tapestry which I will frame and a small tapestry purse for my step daughter.  Cost for everything $35.
Name of the tapestry and woodcarving place












This is the one I bought

Hard at work







  My husband was interested in the GOLD LEAF so that place was next.  We saw men pounding to make the gold very thin.  There were women in a room making the stacks of gold leaf squares that are used to cover the Buddha images like at Mahamuni.  He bought a small leaf made from the gold.  Very tiny 5000k.






     MANDALAY PALACE  This was rebuilt in the 1990s. Originally built late 1850s.  Mostly destroyed during WWII.  Only royal mint and watch tower survived.  Climb to the top of the watch tower-nice views.  Inside a walled fort surrounded by a moat.  The primary residence of King Mindon and King Thibaw, the last 2 kings of the country.    Shows lifestyles of past kings.  The wall-perfect square with bastions at intervals and surrounded by the moat.   It's ok but if you're short on time IMO it isn't a must see.
Bastion






Lion Throne room







Hluttaw-Supreme Court 

Climbed up the watch tower 

View






Entrance

Moat/water around the palce
     Lunch GREEN ELEPHANT  We had passed this place last night when we were looking for Rain Forest so I wanted to try it out.  We ordered fried spring rolls, pickled vegetables to share.  We also had some kind of chips with a dipping sauce.  It was all very good.  My husband had beer and I enjoyed a nice cold coke.  We admired the mug the beer came in so they sold us one for 2000k.  Lunch bill was 15500k.


Pickled vegetables


Fried spring rolls
 



















      SHWENANDAW MONASTERY  Also called Golden Palace Monastery.  Built 1880 by King Thibaw Min.  Only survivor of the original royal palace built by King Mindon.  His son  had it removed from the royal city thus inadvertently saving it from the destruction of WWII.  Teak carvings of Buddhist myths-serpentine dragons, flowers and vines, dancing figures.  Ornate carvings, spectacular roof.  Lots of gold.






























Wood carving of Lawka Nat














                                                                                                                                                                     

     KUTHODAW  PAGODA  World's largest book.  Located at the foot of Mandalay Hill.  729 marble stones/slabs inscribed with Tripitaka text housed inside 729 pitaka pagodas.   Built during the reign of King Mindon to gain merit.  Main entrance has huge carved teak doors with flowers, scrolls, and Deva Nats.  Mature star flower tree propped up by supports.

















































     SANDAMUNI  Across the street from Kuthodaw.  White.  Iron Buddha.  Endless small white stupas.






















     KYAUKTAWGYI  PAGODA  Buddha carved from a single block of marble from Sagaing.  Built by King Mindon in 1853.  Image seated in bhumisparsha mudra/calling the Earth to witness.



Buddha carved from 900 ton marble slab







     MANDALAY HILL  Camera fee 1000k.  Stopped for cold drinks.  2400k.  Rode the escalator 3 levels.  Walked around.  Temple SU TAUNG PYI PAGODA.  After walking, exploring we decided to rest until sunset time.  As we're sitting a small group of young monks approached us and asked if they could talk to us.  They want to practice their English.  We tell them where we live-USA/New York state.  Then they are really interested in learning about some slang terms.  Now we are seniors so don't laugh.  I talk about the meaning of "hit the road Jack, etc.", peas in a pod,  sleep tight and others that I can't remember as I'm posting this (well, I told you I was a senior, didn't I?)  They offer some slang terms and ask what do they mean.  We have a pretty neat conversation but all of a sudden I notice we're attracting the attention of some Asian (maybe Chinese?) tourists who start taking pictures of us-LOL!!!!  Our driver takes a picture of us all.  Then it's time to get in position for the sunset.  We all say our goodbyes, good wishes, and so forth.  The sunset is ok but nothing like the one we saw at U Bein bridge.  We're back to the hotel by 7:00 pm.  Cost for the day 45000k.




























Where you get the escalator to go down or come up












Sunset





Our driver/guide for 2 days-Zaw Ko Thet

     We're not all that hungry as we had lunch which we normally don't do do we decide to just go up to our hotel rooftop restaurant for desert.  Coffee and ice cream for us both.  Cost 11000k.

Coffee was good

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