Mandalay to Monywa and the climb to Nirvana

Sunday 22 January – Monywa

Leaving Mandalay, we stopped briefly at a random temple which has a different shaped dome from all the others. Wayne thought it looked like a giant… actually here is the photo, you decide… but there is a story about the King not being able to decide on the shape and the queen providing a suggestion by opening her blouse…

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Back in the bus and a couple of hours later we stopped at a ‘service station’ for a break and found the dish of the day was deep-fried sparrow alongside prawn cakes (mashed together prawn but oddly still in their shells) and fish on sticks.


Our next stop was the more cultured Bodhi Tatung which is a huge 424ft standing Buddha which you can see from miles away. Just below the site are fields where locals looking to reach Nirvana can sponsor a Buddha statue – it’s a popular option and thousands of Buddha statues sit in neat rows across what appears to be endless fields of them.

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Up top, the Giant Buddha turned out to be hollow with widows all the way up and endless stair cases so we started the climb up with the promise that Nirvana might be at the top. Each staircase is on opposite sides of the Buddha so you have to cross each floor – many of which are painted with gruesome scenes from hell showing the eternal torment waiting for us – buried in a field then run over by a spiked steamroller anyone? Sadly the route on up to nirvana was blocked that the 16th floor so our quest continues.

The next stop was the Thanboddhay Paya, a brightly coloured temple whose walls, roof spaces and obelisks are lined with tiny buddhas – nearly 6 million I’m told. It’s all a million miles from tranquil but the dedication in creating the tiny buddhas, all with individually drawn faces smiling sweetly, is quite something.

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Completely temples out we jumped back in the bus to be taken to our bed for the night and we were stunned to see we were in a resort for the night! Swimming pool! Bar! Clean sheets! Luxury…

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