Myanmar (part II)

>> From Myanmar page 1

Situated in a mountainous valley, Inle Lake reminded me a green Venice. Only much bigger. The highlight of Inle Lake are the villages on poles and traditional fishermen.

Inlay lake kids

Kids rowing on their own in a Inle Lake canal

Fishermen, living in one of the fifteen villages on poles on Inle Lake, use a very picturesque way of catching fishes. Fishing is done by means of a conical net that the fisherman thrusts to the bottom of the lake. This is done while the fisherman stands precariously with one foot on the stern of his pirogue and twists his other leg around a long oar that he uses to propel the boat.

Inlay lake fisherman

Fisherman at Inle Lake holding a long oar and pulling up his net

And what about the famous Bagan?

Bagan was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom. Bagan lays in a plain from which In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Pagan Empire and the Khmer Empire were the two main powers in Southeast Asia. Bagan prosperity started after 1050, when King Anawrahta developed the Pagan Empire and decayed in 1277, when the first Mongol invasion began.

Bagan is a place, which is hard to describe by common words, much easier with poems, scents, birdsongs or sunrise photographs of the more than 4,000 Buddhist temples emerging from the morning haze.

The most memorable feeling I had in Bagan was hiking at 6 am among temples and fields, totally alone. Most temples are freely accessible and so you can explore the interior on your own. Some temples have stairways leading to higher levels, thus offering stunning views of the Bagan plain.

Bagan North Guni Temple

Bagan North Guni Temple

In all of them, you are welcomed by giant Buddha statues, inspiring calm and respect.

Buddha face Bagan 2

You must always take off your shoes in temples, even if they are abandoned. This is sometimes not a very pleasant experience on dirty floors in old temples, as many are inhabited by bats.

Buddha Bagan temple

Buddhism, precisely its Theravada branch, is the main religion in Burma and it pervades all tiers of Burmese society. “Being a Burmese is being a Buddhist” states a local saying. As every boy is expected to be a monk in a certain period of his life, it is very common to see young boys wearing monk cloths, walking bare feet, and asking for offerings.

Burmese child monks

A young girl at Bagan temple.

Burmese girl Bagan

Don’t even think of touching these cute little monkeys: They are protected by an army of feroceous adult monkeys at Mt Popa, in the vicinity of Bagan.

Popa monkeys

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  • © Sebastian Zelechowski, Moscow 2011
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