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The time stopped in Burma 2 / V Barme sa zastavil cas 2

Continuation of our Burmese adventure / Pokracovanie naseho barmskeho dobrodrustva

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By ZZ

In Burma we finally experienced the full power of the southwestern monsoon that brings rain from May to September to Southeast Asia. Up until now we had only laughed upon the infamous rainy season but only experienced minor swift showers. The south of the country was desperately covered with heavy thick clouds and we had to change our plans. Burma has a dry zone from Mandalay to Pyay and we went to try our luck there.

From Inle lake we took a bus...and here comes the first bus story. Burmese people are not quite used to traveling by bus. Therefore an essential equipment for any journey is a sick bag. As soon as the road got a bit wiggly, women started taking out the bags. At the end of the journey, 3/4 of the bags were used and esthetically hung on the seats. The pale faces of our fellow travelers had a nice shade of green. But back to the topic. If we had mixed feelings about Burma until this moment, Bagan would change it. One always knows what to expect from a destination, but there are no words that can express the beauty of Bagan. It's a magical place full of red brick pagodas and golden Buddhas, set into a beautiful landscape of palm trees, mountains and the Irrawaddy river. Sunset in the rain, with a rainbow and a dramatic sky is definitely one of our top 3 experiences so far! Bagan none the less held an unexpected unpleasant trip for us. Mt.Popa is something like the Burmese Olympus where locals worship the traditional animistic deity, the Nats (natural spirits). What we found was a dirty hill full of beggars and monkeys being fed by the visitors. Yes, the view was nice and yes, there was a pagoda on the top. But we escaped as soon as possible. It was an eye-opener in a way...we estimated that at one of the altars people donate about 400 $ each day. That's 12 000 $ monthly and 144 000 $ yearly! Imagine how many books, how much medicine and food they could buy for it. In Bagan our transformation was completed when I painted my face with the traditional thanakha - tree bark mixed with water. Women have been using it for centuries as a decoration as well as sun protection.

We couldn't miss the famous city Mandalay. We soaked in the atmosphere of this hot, dusty city while listening to the tones of Frank Sinatra. It used to be a Burmese tradition to establish a new capital city with every new king. And so it happened that there are three of them around Mandalay: after Bagan came Ava, Amarapura and Sagaing. The junta picked up this tradition and moved the capital from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw in 2005. We squeezed the sights around Mandalay into one busy day. A highlight was certainly a common meal of Buddhist monks at the Maha Ganayon Kyaung monastery. Every Burmese man is expected to take up a temporary monastic residence twice in his life: as a novice monk between the ages of 10 and 20, and once again sometimes after the age of 20. Even though it's just for a few weeks, it illustrates the importance of spiritual education. Momo, our guide from Kalaw, was thinking of becoming a monk for the third time, "for the peace in mind". Foreigners can apply for a 3-months meditation visa and enter one of countless meditation centers across the country. We didn't feel ready for that :) In our Mandalay homestay Yoe Yoe Lay, we had interesting company. Apart from other travelers, there were two German medicine students volunteering at a local hospital. They spent their days assisting the best surgeons in the country and then drinking with them at karaoke bars. Unfortunately all the fun stops at 10 pm because of a curfew.

Just like the British officers back then, we escaped the heat of Mandalay and decided to spend the last couple of days in Pyin Oo Lwin. What an oasis of cool climate and peaceful atmosphere! The old governors house, English church and the spectacular botanical garden were all well worth the visit. Our safety standards sank a few levels when we ordered a mototaxi the next day. One for the both of us plus the driver. And we felt all right driving to the nearby waterfall, Tobi in the middle without a helmet, me in the back with our backpack on. It was a nice hike before the looong 700 km night bus drive back to Yangon. The so called VIP buses (otherwise very comfy) have one big drawback - they can either turn the AC on to a "freezer" mode, or turn it off. We had a good laugh observing our bus mates in winter coats and wool hats. The favorite TV programs on Burmese buses are: Buddhist mantras (repeated at least 100 times), local music channel (Gangnam style Burmese edition) and Burmese soap operas. You choose! We went to the airport right after our early morning arrival. We flew from one of the poorest countries straight to the most expensive city in the world - Sinagpore! Is there a bigger contrast than that?

...

V Barme sme naozaj v plnej sile pocitili silu juhozapadneho monzunu, ktory prinasa do juhovuchodnej Azie obdobie dazdov od maja do septembra. Ak sme sa v predchadzajucich destinaciach smiali, ze jedna "sprcha" za den je to slavne obdobie dazdov, tu sme sa naplno presvedcili o opaku. Juh Barmy bol uplne beznadejny a museli sme nase povodne plany trochu pozmenit. Takzvana sucha zona Barmy sa taha od Mandalay k mestu Pyay, a tak sme tu hladali utocisko.

Od jazera Inle sme sa vydali autobusom...a tu je prva z autobusovych historiek. Barmanci nie su velmi zvyknuti cestovat motorovymi vozidlami, a tak k povinnej vybave patri igelitovy sacik. Akonahle sa cesta zacne trochu klukatit, zeny zacnu sacky vytahovat. Na konci cesty boli asi 3/4 sackov pouzite a tvare a nasich spolucestovatelov mali pekny odtien zelenej. No ale k veci. Ak sme zatial mali z Barmy zmiesane pocity, nasledujuca destinacia nam vyrazila dych. Bagan. Clovek vie, co od ktoreho miesta cakat z roznych fotiek a clankov...ale krasa Baganu sa slovami opisat neda. Je to magicke miesto s obrovskou koncentraciou tehlovocervenych pagod a zlatych Buddhov, zasadene do nadhernej panoramy s palmami, horami a riekou Irrawady v pozadi. Zapad slnka s dazdom, duhou a dramatickou oblohou sme okamzite zaradili do nasich top 3 zazitkov. V Bagane sme mali aj jeden kontroverzny moment, ked sme vyrazili na vylet k Mt.Popa. Je to taky barmsky Olymp, posvatna hora povodnych animistickych nabozenstiev. Co sme nasli, bol preludneny, spinavy kopec, kde ludia len pytali "dary bozstvam" a krmili opice. Ano, vyhlad bol pekny a na samom vrchu bola...ano, uhadli ste, pagoda. Cely tento obrazok nam ale otvoril oci. Podla nasich vypoctov len pri jednom "oltari" putnici nechaju denne asi 400 $. To je 12 000 $ mesacne a 144 000 $ rocne. Za tie peniaze by vela rodin mohlo nakupit lieky, knihy, jedlo. Ale oni zatial dufaju, ze nadpozemske bytosti to vyriesia za nich. V Bagane sme sa uz naplno prisposobili tunajsim zvykom a Zuzka sa pomalovala tanakou, nastruhanou korou stromu zmiesanou s vodou. Zeny sa tu takto kraslia uz po starocia. Okrem estetickej funkcie ma tanaka aj prakticky ucinok, ako ochrana proti slnku.

V Barme sme nemohli vynechat Mandalay. S Frankom Sinatrom v usiach sme nasavali atmosferu tohoto horuceho, prasneho mesta. Tradiciou novych panovnikov bolo postavit si nove hlavne mesto, a tak su tu v okoli hned 3 - po Bagane prisla Ava, Amarapura a Sagaing. Tato tradicia pokracuje dodnes, v roku 2005 sucasna vlada presunula hlavne mesto z kolonialneho Yangonu (Rangunu) do novo vybudovaneho Nay Pyi Taw. My sme dali pamiatky okolo Mandalay za jeden narocny den. Zazitkom bolo spolocne jedlo stoviek mnichov v klastore Maha Ganayon Kyaung. Kazdy muz v Barme aspon 2-krat za zivot vstupi do klastora, medzi 10. a 20.rokom zivota ako novic a neskor po dovrseni 20 rokov. I ked je to len na par dni ci tyzdnov, ukazuje to dolezitost duchovneho zivota celej krajiny. Momo, nas sprievodca z Kalaw, rozmyslal o mnisskom zivote aj treti krat, vraj kvoli kludu a usporiadaniu myslienok. Zahranicni zaujemci mozu poziadat o 3-mesacne meditacne viza a vstupit do jedneho z desiatok meditacnych centier. My sme sa na to uplne necitili ;) V mandalayskom hosteli Yo Yo Lay sme mali zaujimavu spolocnost, okrem cestovatelov aj 2 nemeckych studentov mediciny, ktori tu dobrovolne pracovali v nemocnici. Boli v spolocnosti najlepsich chirurgov krajiny a po veceroch s nimi chodili do karaoke barov :) O 10 vsak zabava v meste konci a junta zatvara vsetky podniky.

Posledne dni sme utiekli, tak ako svojej doby britski vojaci a uradnici, do prijemneho chladku Pyin Oo Lwin. A dobre sme urobili: nadherny kolonialny dom guvernera, anglikansky kostol a botanicka zahrada boli ako oaza po ruchu velkomesta. Skonstatovali sme, ze nase bezpecnostne standardy znacne klesli, ked sme si na dalsi den zavolali mototaxi - jeden pre oboch. V trojici (Tobi v strede bez prilby) sme sa zaviezli k nedalekemu vodopadu. Bola to pekna prechadzka pred 700 km dlhou nocnou cestou do Yangonu. Tzv. VIP autobusy ale maju jednu chybu, klimatizacia bud funguje na teplote "mraznicka" alebo vobec. Dost sme sa nasmiali, ked sme videli spolucestujucich v bundach a capiciach z ovcej vlny. Oblubenymi televiznymi programami v autobusoch su: odriekavanie budhistickych mantier (asi 100-krat po sebe), barmske MTV (Gangnam style v barmskom podani) a barmske telenovely. Vyber si. Po rannom prichode sme sa vydali hned na letisko. Z jednej z najchudobnejsich krajin sveta sme odleteli do najdrahsieho mesta na svete - Singapuru. Vacsi kontrast snad uz ani neexistuje!

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Posted by zuzana.zav 03:43 Archived in Myanmar

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