Monday, February 10, 2014

MARCH 6, 2014: MAHAMUNI, VESALI/WETHALI, MORE SIGHTSEEING AROUND THE TOWN


March 6, 2014

    OMG, it's so early.  I'm not feeling too well.  I wonder if it was that candy bar I had last night?  We stumble out of our room and meet U Than at the front of the hotel at 5:30 am to catch the SUNRISE.  We have our flashlight and U Than has one too.  It's very dark out.  The walk is about 5 minutes and then we climb up a path  that is steep.  This takes me around 10-15 minutes.  At the summit of this hill you see nothing but black.    Now we just wait.  Soon another couple is there so now it's just the 5 of us.  The sun starts to rise.  You can see mist or fog rising up from the ground around the temples we are viewing.  It's really cool.  I take pictures that I think look ok.  Looking the opposite direction you can see some huts/houses and people walking around tending to their fires, etc.  The town is fully waking up now.  We head back to the hotel and I'm sick but not like an intestinal problem-more respiratory.  Maybe all the dust I've inhaled since arriving in Myanmar/Burma is catching up with me.  I don't like to wear the face masks which I'm probably paying for now.  For breakfast I opt for tea and toast.  I'm feeling better.  We meet U Than and our driver at 7:30 am.  We are going to MAHAMUNI and then VESALI/WETHALI.


It's getting lighter















This is the path/stairs we went up to see the sunrise



     Walking back we pass a couple of other hotels that look pretty nice.  We walk over the bridge and now that it's light I can see that even though it looks not so sturdy it is.  We see people up and out.










     MAHAMUNI  About 25 miles north of Mrauk U.  Original home of the Mahamuni Buddha image which now is in Mandalay.  Has golden Buddha images.  A very long drive over some terrible roads-bumpy, dusty so being in the car helps but I'm sure some of the dust is coming in.  We see lots of rural life as we drive.  This is an important site for locals and it is busy when we arrive compared to the other sites we've seen around town.  I don't see any other tourists there except for us.  This is a large compound but very interesting.  Lots of color and glitter but strangely peaceful too.





We arrive at Mahamuni shortly after we pass through this.

\We have arrived and the entrance to Mahamuni is on the left and lots of shops on the right selling all manner of stuff.

Entrance walkway














All the columns are red and gold with different scenes on them.











Walkway going back down







Bodhi tree












Original brick wall





Entrance


Can buy fruit from one of the stands across the street from Mahamuni.

View of Mahamuni from across the street.  







     VESALI/WETHAL  Now it's a small village but hundreds of yrs. ago it was the capital of an ancient Arakan kingdom.  Founded in 327 by King Mahataing Chandra.  Little remains of that kingdom.  Walls of the palace and many mounds which may be hiding more ruins.  Statue known as Great Image of Hsu Tang Pre.  Said to be carved from a single piece of stone.
Leaving Mahamuni we drive through the same arch

Rural life

Lotus pond


Working on a new rail line


Remains of palace and walls





King of Wethali and his Queen but I've forgotten their names.

Hsu Taung Pye-Great Buddha image of Vesali


















Old statues at Wethali/Vesali




Drying peppers




     We arrive back to our hotel around 12 noon agian for a lunch/rest break.  U Than will pick us up at 4:00 pm.
     I rested again and my husband went for another walk.  Before you know it, it's time to meet U Than.  I only have one request.  To see SANDAMUNI.

     SANDAMUNI  Located on a hilltop. Peace and calm here.  If I remember correctly I think that in 123 A.D. Gautama Buddha visited Mahamuni.  9 images made from donations from 9 kings, one which is in Mahamuni and one which is here.  It was covered in concrete to protect it from the British invaders and rediscovered in 1988 by a Sandamuni monk who was cleaning when an eye dropped out from the image.  The monk looked at the eye hole and saw the brass underneath.  The image was uncovered.
Stairs from our sunrise viewing this morning





We have to park down below and walk up




Sandamuni Buddha image-behind glass









Papaya tree??

Cute!













     U Than takes us to a beautiful lake where people come to get water.  I think this is LETSAYKAN LAKE.  There is also a building here where they can get water.  A small temple.   Old city gate and walls-LETSAYKAN GATE.   Then we stop in a small village and just walk around.  We stop at one home where we see a woman weaving fans from dried palm leaf strips.  I buy 2 small ones at 500k each.



Bringing back water

Letsaykan-once one of the main gates to the city.

Letsaykan Lake

Gathering water


Very peaceful here

Another view of the original gate

Ancient walls and gate

Cashew nut tree





Making fans from dried palm leaf strips



     Our last stop is ZINAMANAUNG PAGODA  One of the 5 most revered "man"paya of Mrauk U. The 5 are-Lawkamanaung, Zinamanaung, Sakkyamanaung, Mingalarmanaung, and Yadanarmanaung. This one is located on top of the Pandein Hill.  On the south side of the old palace ruins.  Sructure is octagonal.  At the base there is a guinea pig with 2 bodies stacked on top of each other and 1 head.    Built by King Sanda Thuddhamma in 1652.  I make a donation here for repairs/restoration.  Volunteers provide the labor but money is still needed for the supplies.








Materials for restoration work





One head, 2 bodies stacked on top of each other








There are 2 different kinds of roofs on  the houses.  This kind has bamboo strips.

Thatched roofs

     Ironically as we head back to our hotel we pass the welcome sign but we are leaving tomorrow.  Sigh......We decide to have a light dinner at our hotel as I'm tired and not too hungry.  Chop suey soup with chicken and an egg omelet with onions and tomatoes, coke, Myanmar beer.  Not too bad but MOE CHERRY was the best.  Cost 7000k.

Egg omelet

Chop suey soup with chicken

     One of the hotel staff wants to know if he can hitch a ride to Sittwe on our boat tomorrow.  Fine with us.  I have him call U Than who then confirms it's ok by speaking to my husband.  We will leave at 6:00 am.  Groan.........
     Here's a map I found that has the pagodas/temples, etc. on it.  Maybe it will be useful to others.







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