27 November 2015

Golden Rock Perched on a Hair of the Buddha - Myanmar

Down south in Myanmar is a rock.

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda - perched on the top of a mountain. (Beautiful sunsets, too!)
A large one. 
At the edge of a precipice.

Held in place by one hair of the Buddha. 

(Yes, there's a golden pagoda on top-) 

Pilgrims press squares of gold leaf onto the rock, light candles, and pray.

It's an 8 mile walk up. 
But now they take pilgrims up in large metal trucks. 

They took us, too. 

The mountain is VERY steep.

At night, it's a festive atmosphere. 
Disco lights, candle offerings.
Families, excited kids running around. 

Gold and glass and statues everywhere. 
Quite the party. 

Guys selling horns and noisemakers. 
Groups up from the country sleeping out at the top of the mountain. 
The inns are full.

There are not many foreigners. 
People do a wonderful double take when they see us. 
Everyone has a cell phone, so they try to take a photo of us - without our noticing it.

Plenty of melons, limes, pomelos, huge avocados, fish, rice, noodles, fresh veggies, fruits, chilies, nuts and spices.

A Burmese full moon Thanksgiving.
All thanks to the Golden Rock.

And the hair of the Buddha that holds it in place.

14 November 2015

Leaving for Winter. Thanksgiving in Myanmar (Burma)?

I know it's not for everyone. 
A number of people have told me so recently. 
I understand. 
It would be a difficult world if everyone wanted the same things. 

But I'm (still) compelled to go exploring. 
There is so much that I know nothing about.

This is my pack. With folding umbrella in the side pocket.

We're heading to Asia for 5 months.              
The first month, we'll be in Myanmar (Burma).

It's been on my "list" since I was a kid. 
They just had their first election in 25 years.  
The results are looking good, but - anything's possible. 

It's always a delicate balance, our world.

No credit cards, and ATMs are rare - if they exist at all. 
We're supposed to bring unfolded, new, pristine US dollar notes. 
Nothing older than 2006, and preferably without the letters AB or BC (I think).

(My local bank branch had a lot of fun searching for bills that fit that description! 
They have NO idea where I'm going, and I didn't try to explain. 
Everyone had their cash drawers open - "Is this one okay?" "How about this one?" 
It was great.)

Then - we'll return to Bangkok, where son Erik works.
With him, we'll go sailing - to the Myeik Archipelago. 
It's in the Andaman Sea.

No, I had never heard of it, either. 
Apparently, it's beautiful. 
But impossible to explore except by living on a boat. 

I thought it was part of Burma, but apparently, the people of Myeik have other ideas. 
I'll know more afterwards. 
Uncharted territory - at least for us.

That takes us to early January. After that, not a clue.

It just FEELS like this is how much I'm carrying! There's a rule: No matter how much you take, it's always too much.

We leave early tomorrow morning.
I'm not counting on any Wi-Fi in Burma, so Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

See you on the other side.