Sunday, April 13, 2014

Revisiting Myanmar

“Hello” from Myanmar or “Mingalaba” as they say in Myanmar.
 We really like to visit Myanmar and have many times.  We like many things about the country. The people have retained their culture. There are no McDonalds or other American-like fast food restaurants but that may be changing because they now have coca cola which they didn’t before.  We love the beautiful beach in Ngapali.  Our hotel,
Amazing Ngapali Resort was the first hotel after leaving the airport.  We were surprised to see three new hotels being built.  In one place they were building a break wall to hold back storm waves that sometimes happen on the Bay of Bengal. We were very impressed with the ladies who carry heavy rocks on their head. The people still wear traditional longyis which is a wraparound waist-to-ankle skirt-like garment worn by men and women. The women usually have ones that are brighter in color and design.  Many people also wear thanaka on their face. It is a yellowish white powder made from the bark of a tree.  It protects their skin from the sun which is very hot.  It is usually hot in Myanmar.

This year we visited Mandalay and toured the Royal Palace. The
British forced the last king and his family out of the palace more than 100 years ago.  The royal family went to live in India. The palace became a British fort until World War II when it was destroyed by bombs.  Now it has been rebuilt and is quite beautiful.  We like all the open pavilions. It must have been a very nice place to live. We also visited
Mandalay Hill where there are many Buddhist pagodas.  While we were there we saw a pre-school group on a field trip.  The teachers were teaching them the proper way to give respect to Buddha.  They all kneeled down with the bottoms of their feet pointing away from Buddha and their hands folded like Christians do with they pray then they bowed and recited a prayer.  Some things the people in the Buddhist religion do reminded us of things Christians do. 

We also visited the ancient city of Bagan. About 1000 years ago it
was a capital city with over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries but today there are only about 2000 left.  It is magnificent.  There must have been 1000s of people living there but now mainly tourists and some farmers.  In the evening it is a great place to watch the sunset and the farmers leading their cows home from the fields. 

Our hotel, Amazing Bagan Resort, took us to Jetawan Buddhist
Monastic Education Center where we visited an English class.  They have a great teacher, Daw Mya Mya Win, because the students had a good command of English.  English has become an important “connecting language.” We are glad we speak English because no matter where we go in the world we can find English speaking people.  The school has grown from 46 students in 2006 to 375 this year. They even had a computer room. We loved visiting the school. They had some wise sayings. “The golden jar of learning cannot be stolen.”

In the evening Amazing Began Resort had a free puppet show. Wooden puppets were used to tell the stories from Myanmar history and about the life of Buddha but there was also some funny parts.  Before people could read, watch TV or go to the movies puppets shows were a fun way to teach lessons.