Myanmar. Yangon

Shwedagon. Chaukhtatgyi. Ngahtatgyi.

Today we visited the Shwedagon Pagoda. And there are just no words to describe this amazing, huge, beautiful, grant compound. There is so much gold there that it makes your eyes hurt.

One of Buddhism’s most sacred sites, the 325ft zedi here is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems, and is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas. […]

Legend has it that there’s been a stupa on Singuttara Hill for 2600 years, ever since two merchant brothers, Tapussa and Ballika, met the Buddha. He gave them eight of his hairs to take back to Myanmar, a land ruled over by King Okkalapa. Okkalapa enshrined the hairs in a temple of gold, together with relics of three former buddhas, which was then enclosed in a temple of silver, then one of tin, then copper, then lead, then marble and, finally, one of plain iron-brick. (Lonely Planet)

We wondered and wondered, looked and looked some more. This is a place you can hours and we did. We arrived just after 9 am and left around 2 pm only to return at 7 pm to have a look at it when all the lamps are on. A place of worship, of prayer, of astrological importance, of Gods, Buddhas, relics, of fortune tellers, of women wearing beautiful dresses, of flowers, of water, of bells ringing…



And then we gave thanks and prayed to the day we were born. There are 12 planetary posts around the pagoda. For some days there are two just either side of the praying hall. Wednesday has two different sides and is split in Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. Each one of them has a Buddha, the King and the animal sign associated with that day. And each day has a given number. It is all astrological. So here is our family:

Lara – Friday
Lara – Saturday

For Lara we couldn’t decide. She was born at 0:33 am on the 1st October. But the 1st October must have been still summer time. The original time was (I think) winter time, which means she was born on the 30th September at 11:33 pm. So she is either a guinea pig or a dragon 🙂

Burmese Zodiac Animal Signs - Google ChromeBurmese Zodiac Animal Signs - Google Chrome_2
Alina – Thursday

Burmese Zodiac Animal Signs - Google Chrome_5

Anja – Monday

Burmese Zodiac Animal Signs - Google Chrome_4

Stéphane – Wed morning

Burmese Zodiac Animal Signs - Google Chrome_3

Find out what sign you are and what it means. here

After this site nothing comes really close. But we visited two more pagodas.


Fifty years ago there was a giant standing buddha poking his head above the temples and monasteries here, but one day he got tired and collapsed into a heap on the floor, whereupon he was replaced with the monster-sized lazy reclining buddha you see today. The placid face of the Chaukhtatgyi Buddha is topped by a crown encrusted in diamonds and other precious stones. (Lonely Planet)


Virtually across the street from Chaukhtatgyi Paya is a gorgeous 46ft-tall seated Buddha image at the Ngahtatgyi Paya. Sitting in calm gold and white repose with a healthy splash of precious stones to boot, it’s one of the most impressive sitting buddhas in southern Myanmar. In fact, it’s worth going to see for its carved wooden backdrop alone. (Lonely Plantet)

These two definitely go in the category superlative… Worth a visit. And since our tickets for Shwedagon was valid until 9 pm we returned to take in the atmosphere after sunset. And that is a completely different feeling. Lamps, candles, still a lot of people, but it is nicely cool and one could just sit, listen to the people chanting and be at peace with oneself and the world – if it wasn’t for the fact that ONE has two children who feel the need of running around and having too much energy 🙂

By the way we hadn’t managed to skype with my parents in the guesthouse but here it worked. There is WiFi in this holy place and plenty of ATM machines. 🙂