Monday, March 4, 2013

We love Myanmar

Mingalabar, or “hello” from Myanmar. We have visited Myanmar many times because we love to stay at Amazing Hotel on Ngapali Beach on the Bay of Bengal.  The beach is long with soft sand perfect for walking and the water is warm. We like to use the hotel’s inner tubes to ride the waves.  Every time we visit there is always something “amazing.”  This time we were so happy when one of our waitresses, Khin Khin Phyu, invited us to her wedding and reception.  She is Catholic and he is Buddhist.  In the morning we went to the Buddhist Monastery with Khin Khin and her husband, Zar Ni.  They brought the monk gifts of food as is traditional and received his blessing recognizing their marriage.  Buddhist monks do not perform ceremonies. Khin Khin wore a beautiful yellow Myanmar-style dress. In the evening we went to her house for the reception which had been going on all day long. In the evening she had on another beautiful dress. This time is was white more like our wedding dresses. The neighbors do all the cooking but the food was provided by Khin Khin’s family.  Zar Ni is from another village so after a few days they went to his village for a similar celebration and his family will provide the food.  Khin Khin and Zar Ni will live with his family.

After we left Ngapali Beach we went to the capital of Myanmar, Nay Pyi Taw.  It is a new city. They started building it in 2002 and until recently people needed special permission to visit. We hired a car and driver to take us from Yangon, the old capital, 200 miles to the new capital.  We were told there were no flights.  The road is also new, four lines divided by newly planted trees and flowers.  We saw very few vehicles because the toll is $30.  We found the city very interesting with lots of lights and very, very wide roads – and virtually empty of traffic. I think they have built a city that will meet their needs in the future.  There is building going on everywhere.

We visited the Gem Museum. Myanmar is famous for rubies and jade. At the new Buddhist pagoda we were happy to see that there were four elevators to get to the temple because it is hot in Nay Pyi Taw – very hot.  The golden pagoda is beautiful outside and inside.  Inside the pagoda there are statues of Buddha and along the walls stone tablets that tell the story of Buddha’s life. The only place we could not go was where the new governmental buildings are located. From a distance they look beautiful – maybe some day. The city is huge even though it is basically empty of people and cars. From the center of the city to the National Landmark Garden it was a 30 minute ride and it was still in the city. We were happy to have a golf cart tour and guide because the Landmark Garden is huge. It is divided into the many ethnic groups of Myanmar and had replicas of each area’s famous landmark. It was like a tour of the whole country of Myanmar in one hour.  One place we want to visit is the Golden Rock especially after we saw the replica on our ride.  There were also amusement rides and a hotel. 
One evening we went to the Water Fountain Garden with many ponds, fountains, and gardens all colorfully displayed.  One large water fountain had music videos projected on it and there was an undulating suspension bridge that was a bit shaky to walk on.  We enjoyed both.  We think Nay Pyi Taw will be a beautiful capital when it is completed.