Magic in the dark

Well well well
If that last post seemed a tad jaded, tonight alone has just made this entire trip worthwhile
I still can’t quite believe what I’ve seen. I’m so excited I can’t sleep
I can’t do it justice but I’ll try.

It’s called the Shwedagon Paya.
It is the most sacred of all the sites in Burma. I’m told all Buddhists in this country should see it at least once on their lives.

But if you ever come here don’t see it in the day. Arrive at night and be prepared to stand there paralysed by awe

It’s the closest I’ve come to a religious experience. And Ive been to Rome, Jerusalem and walked the sacred Way of Saint James

The highest pagoda in Burma.
Two huge dragon statues guard the entrance to this beautiful temple complex
The golden dome is more than 300feet high. Said to be 2500 years old.
Its been covered in gold since the 15th century
But there are many many more stupa (pagodas) here
Gilded temples, shrines, statues.
Worshippers pour water over tiny ivory Buddhas. Everywhere people are praying or chanting
In groups or as individuals
The main golden stupa burns brightly in the heat of the day but at night the area is bathed in a soft light that somehow glows with gold,green and red
One section of the stupa tower (the banana bud) is covered in 13,000 plates of gold
Towards the top a shaft is covered with golden bells and jewellery
The vane at the top is studded with 1100 diamonds and other precious stones.
And at the very top there is a golden sphere which my guide book tells me is studded with 4351 diamonds and the orb at the top is tipped with a 76 carat diamond.
At sunset it projects a multi coloured beam of light

I stood there unable to move. Then a full moon broke through the clouds and shone brightly before disappearing again. What a sight

All this in a vast courtyard of marble tiles. Inlaid gold and ivory patterns.

I was the only Westerner there.
And talk about a land of smiles. This is it.
Almost everyone who passed me smiled.
Even the security guards were good humoured and they let me stay after everyone had gone.
It was just me, them and the swifts darting in and out of the temples.

Now having read that, it sounds like the overblown hype you read in travel mags. The sort of travel writing I hate.
But all that was true. And it’s one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen


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