Thursday, 20 February 2014

Burma: Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon PagodaShwedagon PagodaThe magnificent golden Shwedagon Pagoda on
Sanguttara Hill is surrounded by ornate pagodas, bejewelled buildings, spangley columns, neon-lit statues and shadowy prayer pavilions.

Shwedagon PagodaIn the late afternoon, small groups of people sat together in dark corners to participate in ceremonial activities or take a communal nap in the shade. Mothers played with their children. A monk puffed surreptitiously on a cigarette. Official photographers arranged local visitors into set poses with appropriate backdrops. 

I politely brushed off the advances of an unofficial guide and circumnavigated the grounds jumping from shade to shade to avoid walking on the baking hot marble tiles in obligatory bare feet. I am guessing that the site has lost much of its significance over the years and is casting a future eye at tourists who will use words like 'awesome' and 'must-see'. Go before they get there.

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