It is extremely interesting to note the extent of British colonial rule and influence throughout our recent ports. Eric is part of this, as a Canadian, but even he was surprised by some examples, such as our tour guide telling us "this square used to be known by it's British name, Victoria Park, but not now."
The Strand also had a wonderful faded elegance, Victorian frosted glass with arched windows and original frames let in the light at the bar. Even the cocktails and peanuts felt old, as was the selection of glasses, with old port and sherry flutes behind the bar, and pigeon holes for bills. Not a computer screen in sight, although this is one of the only places in Burma where you actually can use a credit card. Eric, as you can see, was pleased. In most places, the Myanmar government has issued a no credit-card, no cash machine law.
Feeling tipsy, we got another taxi to the Kan Daw Gyi Lake and Karaweik Palace. We paid 300Kyat to get in to the park, which was relaxing and had a great lake view with the Shwedagon pagoda in the distance, as you can see, and then another 1000Kyat to get into the "palace". Although it's only $1, I feel as if we got ripped off. The palace is basically a buffet restaurant, made to look like a golden palace-boat, with a hall on one side where many weddings and functions take place. The carpet was clean, but alas due to the open nature of the building and it's exposed position, it has decayed somewhat, and sparrows have invaded the rafters. The place even smelled bad. Our "tour" with a man wearing a badge who ushered us quickly around took all of 5 minutes, this was one of the "picture stops." This is another, the swan heads are actually very pretty. I did, however, like this picture which was inside the building, it's Erte-esque. See, I'm creating a dance and music piece with my man, where we use his upright bass and I dance around him, using and imitating the curves of the bass. We think this is the end position (my friend Paul took it during a rehearsal.) This picture, where she echoes the shape of the swan, is exactly what I'm going for.
When we left the palace, built as late as 1975(!) we were given an energy drink called Shark, almost as an apology I think. It was very sickly-sweet.
We were so tired, it really is hot in Burma, but I wore long sleeves because, even though I wear repellent, I'm getting eaten alive by mosquitos or some kind of bugs in these ports! This grass "sofa" was a welcome break, until we discovered the red ant army we were sitting on!
The last place we knew we had yet to visit was the Shwedagon Pagoda. It's a wonder of the world, don't you know! It is thought to be 2,500 years old. Just as we got shoe-less and went in to the Inner wall of the Pagoda area, the heavens opened and rain poured down. It was a short-lived storm, but for the rest of our tour we sloshed around in foot-juice. Nice. As a dancer who needs to take care of her feet from any nasty infection, this was not an ideal situation, but we had fun. Hey look, I'm in this picture!
Their are SO many Buddhas here! It's incredible, I have no idea how many, they're everywhere you look. In this little alcove people were SLEEPING amongst buddhas! In all of these alcoves there are buddhas. Yes, in ALL of them. Some date from as early as 1140, one is from 1792, but some, honestly, look like something out of an amusement arcade. There's even a Buddhology showroom. Buddhology! What a great word. At this smaller shrine, of which there are several, people dowse the Buddha images with water, over the shoulders and head a few times, with small cups and fonts of water provided.
At the very top of the Pagoda, about 100 metres up, is a diamond orb, with a height of 22 inches, a diameter of 10.5 inches, with no less than 4,351 diamonds on it! The total carat of all the diamonds is 1,800, but the apex diamond, a huge rock at the very top that is almonst oblong, is 76 carat! THAT'S WHY IT'S A WONDER OF THE WORLD! Even though, after watching the movie Blood Diamond, my love affair with the girl's best friend has fizzled out somewhat (I think after watching the movie it's practically impossible to tell whether a diamond is truly not a 'conflict diamond'), I did find myself salivating over such a huge piece of bling.
I wish I could've got a decent picture of it, but alas it was just too far up. Apparently at night when you stand at different points, you can actually see the different rainbow colours the apex diamond reflects.We had tired ourselves out, and ended up getting the 4pm shuttle from the Trader's Hotel back to the ship. I even gave my camera to Eric, and told him that if he saw something wonderful, he had to take a picture of it for my Granddad. He immediately pointed the thing at my tired mug and took this picture. Ah! I slept most of the way home.