Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Myanmar- Yangon, full of surprises and my hero

Aung San Suu Kyi's house
Aung San Suu Kyi's house
Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagone Pagoda

Yangon National Park
Textiles made here 

Dominant in the landscape is the huge Shwedagone Pagoda. It is the perfect symbol of a country where Buddhism pervades every aspect of life. The physical presence of the golden stupa dominates Yangon and its spiritual magnetism in turn dominates Myanmar, attracting tens of thousands of pilgrims each year. The pagoda dates back 2500 years and was build to house 8 sacred hairs of the Buddha.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a hero of mine. She returned to Burma in 1988 to tend to her ailing mother, after years of living and studying abroad, only to find widespread slaughter of protesters rallying against the brutal rule of dictator U Ne Win. She spoke out against him and initiated a nonviolent movement toward achieving democracy and human rights. In 1989, the government placed her under house arrest. She spent 15 of the next 21 years in custody. In 1991, her ongoing efforts won her the Nobel Prize for Peace. She was finally released from house arrest in November 2010. We rode by her house and took pictures. I was hoping to see her. She is brave and courageous like her father who was killed at the age of 31 fighting for independence of his country. The people love her and, if there are free elections there, I predict she will one day be president.

The Bogyoke (Scott) Market is filled with many handicrafts and gorgeous things to buy. I especially loved the wide range of textiles available in so many colors and textures. Traditionally worn by men and women, the  “Longyi” and the “Hta Mein” dress with a shirt or blouse looks so special in every situation.

Yangon National Park  provides a magnificent oasis the the city for people to enjoy at no expense. Beautifully landscaped to be peaceful and sere, the park has a lake, pagodas, walkways and park areas for strolling, sitting and meditating as well as playing. Away from the hustle, bustle, noise and grime of the city, the park was a true departure. Many people come to eat their lunch or dinner there.

It has been cut off from the world, yet it is worldly. It is modern, yet it is archaic. It is a dictatorship, yet has a fantastic democratic hero!! It is not what I expected. Yes, Yangon is a city of surprises!!

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