HCMC Dining Guide

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Shwedagon Pagoda

Legend has it that the Shwedagon Pagoda has existed for over 2,600 years, though archaeologists put its beginnings somewhere between the 6th and 10th centuries. The centerpiece is a 325 foot temple (second picture), which is surrounded by marble floors and dozens of smaller shrines and pagodas. Each one is significant for its own reasons, but our guide didn't speak very good English and he spit out far too much information to retain. So here are a bunch of pictures instead.
One of four grand entrances to the pagoda.

One of my favorites. A monk on a Samsung Galaxy - I assume he was checking his Intagram account.
Also, in continuing the theme of a changing political reality in Myanmar discussed in my previous post, at one point our guide said, unprompted, that people are no longer afraid to talk in public. During the military junta's years it maintained an expansive, secretive organization called Military Intelligence, or MI, that had eyes and ears everywhere. Neighbors were encouraged to spy on each other, and almost no one was willing to risk discussing politics or the government, even in their homes. The punishment for getting caught would be a trip to prison, and possibly worse. I doubt this security apparatus has been completely dismantled, but considering how open a few of the people we encountered were, things have obviously changed.

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