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The Shwedagon Pagoda

Meditate with the Buddha

The Massive Reclining Buddha

Looking at Buddha's toes!

BURMA     Yes, I know the official name of the country is Myanmar.  I have a friend from Burma.  Since she does not recognize the present government's right to change the name of the country and still refers to her homeland as Burma, that's good enough for me. 

RANGOON      The most important thing to see in Burma's capital is the Shwedagon Pagoda.  You have to pay to enter, but it is so amazing.  In another corner of town, an easy taxi ride away, is a huge reclining Buddha.  Impressive.  And, if you don't plan to do your souvenir shopping up country, or for some reason you skip Bagan -- God forbid! -- you can do a lot of shopping at the main market place in the downtown. 

I stayed one night in the capital and then I quickly hopped a bus and headed up country.  It sounds so nice and easy.   It wasn't.  Burma, one of the poorest countries in the world, had awful roads and, for some reason, most public transportation went at night.  Maybe they didn't want anyone to see the roads?  Sleep was impossible. 

To really make things easier, the second time I went to Burma, I flew everywhere.  What a difference that made -- and it was worth every penny!  Still, the 4:45 A.M. wake-up call for Bagan came early.

I was really proud of myself as I headed to Burma with only a carry on piece of luggage.   Well, I didn't end up that way.  I bought two baskets to convert into a suitcase for part of the purchases.   Then, I went to the market place and bought the largest vegetable basket that I could find.  It cost all of fifteen cents and was enough to safely bring my vase back home. 

I had one final souvenir -- a haircut.  I was motioned into a shop by someone who spoke practically no English so I couldn't tell him what I wanted.  I trusted him.  Silly me!  It is the last time I will ever get a haircut from a man wearing a skirt!  The cut cost twenty-five cents and I got what I paid for.  It is the worst haircut I ever had.  Actually, the guy cut the sides of my head okay.  He didn't touch the top at all.  But, what he did do was shave the back of my head up to my ears.  It was about 1/4 inch short and then there was a marked stop to the short hair and it was suddenly long.  Naturally, I didn't know what the guy was doing until he was done and I saw it in the mirror.  I was really surprised when the guy said "finished".  He hadn't spoken English until then and he hadn't cut the top.   But, after what I saw he had done, I didn't want him to do any more damage any where on my head.   What was really funny was how some people later told me they like my haircut.  Only one person at school was honest enough to say, "What did you do to your head?"  I appreciated honesty.

Copyright 1998 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.