Come along for the journey!

Come along for the journey!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

NO MONKY BUSINESS (Mandalay, Myanmar)

"Go back now - it's too far, and too hot". This statue sees Buddha pointing to Mandalay prophetically because of the legend that Buddha came to Burma and pointed into the valley before Mandalay ever was.
 We made a Facebook friend today: Narga Vamsa, a monk from near Mandalay. He wanted to take our photo together with him and post it on his page. Neko gets that a lot. I think there are statues built of her in some parts of the country now. We made the 920 step climb (yes, I counted, I’m that boring) to the top of Mandalay Hill. For those haters out there though, I did observe that the first large Buddha statue was 365 steps up…significant? That’s not in any guide books!

365 stairs up
Many monks make the climb to the top for English lessons with tourists. Nagar’s opening gambit included the usual pleasantries - we told him where we were from and how many siblings we had. We in turn had hoped to get down to business and ask a monk some slightly harder hitting questions that resonate with questions I have about my own faith: why were monks fighting and massacring Muslims in 2011?; how does violence fit with the Buddhist teachings?; What’s with the ‘no possessions, except mobile phones’? Narga was however closely monitored by a ‘friend’ - the young chap had wandered over from the government tourist desk when Narga was seen to be chatting with us. We began to ask a couple of things and Nagar was cut short with curt instructions in Burmese resulting in hesitation. Not wanting to look like we were being overly political and shifty, we quickly changed the subject and asked him if he had any brothers and sisters.

We gave this man on pilgrimage our only bottle of water - that's gonna hurt!

Our new Facebook friend then tried to upload the photo of us all to our page but without success. Resisting the urge to crack a joke about having no attachment to the internet, we wished him well with the new Burmese phrases he had taught us and said we’d look forward to hearing from him.

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