Friday, February 28, 2014

Myanmar - Day 8 - Mahagandayon Monastery

Monks at Mahagandayon Monastery line up for their meal.

On our last day in Myanmar we started with a visit to Maha Gandhayon Monastery in Amarapura. This is a working monastery and is home to perhaps 1200 monks who come to study.

Here are links to previous Myanmar posts.
Day 1 - Yangon                          Day 2 - Yangon and Inle Lake
Day 3 - Morning on Inle Lake     Day 3 - Afternoon on Inle Lake
Day 4 - Bagan                            Day 5 - Bagan and Ananda Temple
Day 6 - Village Life                    Day 7 - Mingun Temple

Young monks at Mahagandayon Monastery in white robes

My understanding is that basically all boys sometime after the age of 7 go through a ceremony called shinbyu where they exchange their worldly clothes for robes and shave their heads.

They spend a week or longer at a monastery to live life as a monk where they study and pray. Around age 20 they have another opportunity to become a monk if they have decided that this is their calling in life.

At Maha Gandhayon Monastery they all line up at 10:00 AM to receive their one meal for the day.

They will receive their rice and other food in the bowl that each carries.

Monks receiving rice at Mahagandayon Monastery in Amarapura

It is an honor and act of devotion for these women to be able serve the meal.

As you might imagine, this daily ritual attracts a lot of curious tourists.

The whole thing is a little surreal. Actually, I felt out of place as a tourist witnessing this. I can't really grasp the Buddhist tolerance of the hoards of tourists in the light of my Christian background.

But that didn't stop me from taking pictures.

Caprenters at Mahagandayon Monastery in Amarapura, Myanmar

As we wandered around the monastery we came across this crew of carpenters working on replacement window frames.

Click to enlarge any picture.

Do you think smashing your big toe with a hammer hurts more or less than your thumb?

It was all done by hand.

They were working next to this building.

These brooms were stacked up against the steps. Margot thought they were colorful. We didn't see them in action but the grounds were nicely maintained.

U Bein bridge at Amarapura, Myanmar

After the monastery, we visited U Bein Bridge.  This 0.75 mile long bridge spans Taungthaman Lake. It is supposedly the longest teak bridge in the world.

There are 1086 posts and zero handrails.

The bridge was built around 1850.
Young monks on U Bein bridge at Amarapura

The supports in this section have been replaced with concrete.

Here is Margot with the last successful souvenir vendor on our trip.

This is the next to last successful vendor. This was interesting. The guy coats a piece of glossy paper with ink and then uses a razor blade to scrap away the ink he doesn't want. Definitely takes some skill.

Click to enlarge.

Royal Palace wall and moat in Mandalay

Finally, a couple of pictures of the wall and moat around the royal palace.
Each of the walls is 2 km long and form a perfect square.

Tower, wall and moat at the Royal Palace in Mandalay, Myanmar

This place is sort of analogous to the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, this is much newer dating back to only about 1859.

Almost all of the buildings inside were destroyed by Allied bombing in World War 2.

The moat is 210 feet wide and about 15 feet deep.

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