At breakfast the next day, instead of the usual stone cold eggs and hot coffee I was given hot eggs and cold coffee.
Although we had agreed to set off at ten o’clock, my friends were at the gate with their tuk tuk waiting for me at half past nine, so I had to go. The market we had arranged to visit was closed as it was Sunday, but there were still lots of sellers with their wares on the roadsides around the edges of the market. Moving slowly up the narrow street, the driver beeped his horn repeatedly to get a dog out of the way. The dog finally moved slowly just a little to the side, then turned and gave us a most aggrieved look. How dare we!
I told the boys I wanted to buy a pillow for my night on the train. I wasn’t sure of a sleeper and a sit-up was likely. So they took me to a shop where they and the entire staff escorted me upstairs. The pillow cost two dollars fifty and was wrapped in plastic. My progress through this shop and up and down the stairs was conducted like a royal tour.
Rangoon Burma Map Photo Gallery
We set off to travel sixteen kilometres south along the Yangon Road to the Shwemyetman Paya Pagoda of the Golden Spectacles. The green of the countryside was stunning to someone like me from the ‘bare brown land’. No dirt at all showed here. The grass grew from the edge of the road, then after a couple of feet it was accompanied by bushes, then later trees, some of them enormous and old. At one place a rice crop was being harvested and several workers in coolie hats were cutting, bagging and loading the hay onto an ox cart beside the road. The road traffic consisted of a great many bikes, motorbikes and the odd cart. Once off the main road the path was dirt but it was not as bad as the one to the train station.
The first pagoda we arrived at had eighty stone Buddha images seated in alcoves in a square, twenty to each side. They were all dressed in gold cloth and had offerings in the bowls before them. An old monk with some English pointed out to me with some pride that they all had their eyes closed except one, but what this signified evaded me. I padded around the site barefoot, now and then on sharp stones that hurt even my tough feet. Behind the shrine there were large aviaries of birds, some were pretty parrots and a couple of the smaller ones looked like budgerigars. And there were several large pens containing dozens of big white and brown rabbits. They don’t eat them here so I wondered why they kept rabbits. One resident cat and dog also wandered around.
We moved on to the Spectacles Pagoda. Inside this big pagoda sat a large white-faced Buddha wearing an enormous pair of gold-rimmed specs. And on one side of the gigantic statue was a substantial glass case half full of spectacles. Supposedly put there by cured supplicants, most looked new and unused to me. But, sceptic though I am, I still made an offering here my eyes aren’t what they used to be.
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