All the more, for the amount we paid, everything was cared by the guide, including the visa, transport and sightseeing. While she sorted out the visa at the border of Mae Sai, we waited for around 10 minutes, noticed the cross-border movement of people and then walked just a distance to set foot into the hot, dusty and sprawling Myanmar with similar to Vietnam and Cambodia chaotic traffic.
Journeying in a van, within a couple of minutes, we were at this small Myanmar Village for a helicopter view of the daily life of the people. Though the friends were quite excited seeing the houses made with palm leaves and bamboo, the water well, the home based industry and kids running around, I was cool and calm. Maybe because I have visited the rural areas in my country where my late grandparents stayed, I thought I went back to time for a reflection of how life used to be those years.
From this village, we got into the van again for another short drive to Temple of Enrobed Elephant, also known as the Union of Myanmar, Township Dhammayon, Tachileik/Community Hall. The first thing at this temple was being grateful to God and later we viewed the walls painted with murals depicting the different scenes of Buddha, the smaller golden Buddha statues and the souvenirs at the entrance we didn't buy.
The next stop not far from the border crossing was at Shwedagon Pagoda - one of the most famous and main attraction of Yangon and the oldest pagoda in the world. Shwedagon Pagoda sits atop a 99 meters high hill, holds the great views of the surrounding region, back toward Doi Tung and where the main Golden Pagoda stands. Also known as “The Crown of Burma”, the main gold-plated dome is topped by a stupa adorned with over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, topaz and sapphires. To reflect the last rays of the setting sun, the stupa is off-setted by a massive emerald.
Guided by the young guide who spoke fluent English, I paid homage to Buddha including the ritual of washing my feet a few times. Thereafter as I couldn't take the burning heat of the sun which almost blistered my bare feet, I quickly walked to the marble-floored main terrace containing Buddha images and two giant cast-iron bells.
Just as we prayed again and rested, the young guides returned with baskets of local things. So, well, I bought the “Thanaka" thinking that alike the Burmese women, I can smear the similar to sandalwood paste on my cheeks and nose to prevent sunburn. But the idea was soon forgotten because I didn’t dare apply. Then, we tried the Burmese street food at one of the stalls outside the temple. Honestly, I didn’t know what I ate though it was a mixture of shredded vegetables and various types of sauces. This street snack tasted quite nice but the friends refused to try.From the temple, we arrived at the street bazaar for shopping. Seriously, such a waste of time because I didn't find anything worth buying between the fake goods, the clothes and the handcrafts. Also, the one and a half hours at this bazaar was close to a nightmare as I was sweating profusely under the burning sun while clinging tight to my handbag. Glad I was when it was time to walk back towards the bridge lined with more stalls and cart vendors before journeying to the "Golden Triangle".
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