Sunday, February 12, 2012

Daytrip from Mandalay: Mingun Paya

The Mingun Paya is basically the biggest pile of bricks you've ever seen, with this little cliff hanging path up the side over jagged stones and ten meter drop-offs...oh, and you have to do it barefoot after sifting through a dusty village full of beaten dogs, worn out street vendors, and a chug-a-lug boat ride down the Ayerarwaddy River. Sounds like a perfect day trip to me.
Awoke in ET Hotel, this dingy little four story guest house, tossed some salt,pepper, and strawberry jam over complimentary scrambled eggs and dry toast and headed out to see the day.
Arranged a truck taxi with two giggling Chinese girls to Gawwen Jetty for the boat ride to Mingun. Chatted in the dustiest office ever seen by human eyes with a toothless old gummy man about global warming, watched his red betel nut spitting lips while we stood in the shade and watched the men untie the boats and pull them to shore.
Across the Ayeyarwady River on a chugging and sputtering outboard motor ferry boat 11km for over an hour on the calm water to little village of Mingun.
The Mingun Paya is actually the remains of a planned 150 m stupa. Kicked shoes off in the dust and climbed in barefeet… once atop, view over the river was outstanding. Such bright heat. Then Walked along the dusty road to Mingun bell, world’s second largest…and into Hsinbyume Paya, the wavy terraced white stuped temple.
The villagers were sweet and  innocent...this dusty mud rubbed on the children's faces is a mixture of clay and water pounded by tree branches. It is used as a charm, heat absorber, and beauty mark.
But I didn't get to chat with the villagers much. I tried though, but most just wanted me to have a drink and leave them alone.  So I did.
These little boy monks...it's more like boarding school than Buddhist training... parents send them off to work and learn to read and write.  Monks are good teachers, I bet.
High atop Mingun Paya, I survey my next move.  Yeah, I'm pretty pale huh.  That changed by the end of the trip.
It's funny the things you remember from little day trips here and there.  This boy was so curious of me, yet so shy when I wanted to take his picture.  Had to sneak it a little...with his permission of course.  Just like letting me travel to his village... with his permission.

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