WPC – Ascend To The Top

I was blessed having the chance to see a rare event in the main temple of Maha Lokamarazein Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar, during my visit to this temple which is famous as The World’s Biggest Book Temple. I could see a brave guy who climbed to top of Main Stupa without adequate safety equipment or perhaps I could say, without any safety equipment at all. He could climb to the peak of the Stupa only in 1 minute. Living as a local with Buddhism since born, he did it because of his love to The Buddha. Having the chance to clean the top of the Stupa is a honor task.



In response to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge with Ascend as keyword

WPC – Quest For Peace

A young monk walked alone near U Bein Bridge

Near U Bein bridge in Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar, I saw a young monk who walked alone in his bare feet, separated from his friends. I did not know what he’s thinking about, perhaps a quest for inner peace.

Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.

In response to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge with Quest as the theme for this week.

Myanmar In Frames

My trip to Myanmar several year ago was one of my best solo trips I have ever experienced. Not only I was able to take a pose at Shwedagon Pagoda, as my father did decades ago, but I also got so many wonderful experiences in the country which opened up since the past few years.

But spending hours since the afternoon till evening at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangoon, would be different compared to wander around Bagan which has thousands of ancient heritage temples or wander around Mandalay.

But unfortunately, hundreds of the remarkable temples were damaged by the recent 6.8 Magnitude earthquake on 24th August 2016 with its epicenter only around 30 km from Bagan.

I truly hope that the Myanmar and the world will be hand in hand to repair and restore all the damaged heritage temples because of historical value was not owned by Myanmar alone but the world.

In order to participate in the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme Frame for this week, I post some photos during my trip in Myanmar


WPC – Admiration of the Asian Heritages

Been to lots of historical temples in my country since I was kid, made me admiring of the heritage sites, especially temples. When I was in a temple as a kiddie tourist, my mind was full of imagination of the life of people, the communities, their culture and the kingdoms around that time, and the relationships between the kingdoms as well…

As time go by, I can’t help myself not to go to the heritage sites in neighboring countries. With the same curiosity and eagerness seeing the temples, finally I visited to the heritage sites of the related kingdoms in South East Asia. And there I was still imagining the life of people and their culture during the temples’ golden era.

From Indonesia, the Borobudur…

A guy performs a Pradaksina, the rite of clockwise circumambulating in Borobudur, World Heritage Site in Indonesia

to Cambodia, the Angkor Wat…

Sunrise at Angkor Wat – World Heritage Site in Cambodia

Also Preah Vihear, a world heritage temple in Cambodia, near the border to Thailand…

Preah Vihear, World Heritage Site in Cambodia

Then to Thailand, the kingdom of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya at Night, World Heritage Site in Thailand

Also Sukhothai in Thailand

Sukhothai – World Heritage Site in Thailand

And to temples of Bagan in Myanmar…

Beautiful Heritage Site in Bagan, Myanmar

Then the unforgotten My Son Champa ruins in Central Vietnam

My Son, Champa ruins – World Heritage Site in Vietnam

And recently, last week exactly… Wat Phou in Lao PDR

Wat Phou Champasak, World Heritage Site in Lao PDR

In response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge with the topic of Admiration

WPC – Optimism in Amarapura

U Bein Bridge in Black and White
U Bein Bridge in Black and White

When the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge asks us to show something we are optimistic about or something that helps us stay positive and hopeful, some pictures are directly coming into my mind. After thinking for a while, finally I select this one as my contribution for the photo challenge of the week with the topic: Optimistic

It was in May several years ago, not the best time to visit Myanmar. And to make it worse, at that time Myanmar was partly opened for foreign tourists. Being a citizen of ASEAN members which Myanmar is a member as well, -in the same South East Asia region-, it’s not an auto access entering the country with a passport only. I had to apply visa before flying to Myanmar. Although it’s said that a political change being on the way, but I felt the atmosphere of people’s daily life stayed the same. Well, that was included me as a tourist visa holder; there’s always passport verification and registration by an officer in uniform in all domestic airports I arrived. But the people, the culture, the heritage and the food of Myanmar, hmmm… I was optimistic about the future of this marvelous country.

On that afternoon the driver dropped me off at U Bein Bridge, the famous tourist destination in Amarapura, Mandalay. I love the view of the bridge, it’s still awesome although it was not sunset nor sunrise.

The 1.2 km teak bridge is believed to be the oldest and the longest wooden footbridge in the world, which was built by U Bein around 1850 to salvage the unwanted teak columns from the old palace of Ava Kingdom during the move to new capital, Mandalay. Until now the local people still use this more-than-a-hundred-years bridge to cross over Taung Tha Man Lake.

Besides the breathtaking view of the footbridge during sunset or sunrise, it is also wonderful for me to enjoy afternoon scenery from the snack shops or small restaurants in the lakeside and watch the activities of Buddhist monks and the local people walking across the U Bein Bridge.

But who could handle for just watching and not walking on the bridge? Racing with the time, I walked for a several hundred meters and back just to feel the breeze from the lake. It was so wonderful. And while walking I found the answer of a question about the safety of the bridge. Some bricks were added to the wooden base in several points, perhaps to strengthen the existence of the bridge. Based on the discussion with the local people there, I believed that the people of Amarapura are optimistic about this outstanding wooden bridge which will survive for another century.

And I could not forget about Taung Tha Man Lake, it is still used by the locals for fishery. The lake itself is so kind to provide a lot of fishes for the people of Amarapura and surroundings. It’s not only for that, but also for boat tourism. When I was there, more than one boatman offered me to rent his traditional boat to go around and see the U Bein Bridge from the lake. Some of them offered to the tourists directly from their boats under the bridge. Unfortunately the time was not mine since I had to go back to Mandalay. It’s in the month of May, not peak time for tourists, but I believed the boat owners were still optimistic for the coming tourists.

3 Destinasi Terbaik Yang Wajib Dikunjungi di Mandalay

Rasanya belum bisa dibilang sudah traveling ke Mandalay bila belum melihat proses pembuatan gold leaf, atau pergi ke Pagoda Mahamuni yang menjadi icon Mandalay dan U-Bein Bridge yang magis. Bagi saya, inilah destinasi yang saya kategorikan sebagai ‘save the best for last’ dalam kunjungan saya ke Mandalay.

Pembuatan Gold Leaf

Di Burma, hampir semua patung Buddha atau tokoh yang dipersamakan serta benda-benda suci lainnya biasanya dilekatkan dengan lembaran emas sehingga tampil berkilau. Penempelan ini bukan sekedar asal tempel melainkan merupakan rangkaian proses keimanan dan keyakinan terhadap Buddha. Dikatakan bila seseorang sakit, maka ia akan berdoa di depan Buddha dan dengan merekatkan lembaran emas ke tempat yang sakit, ia yakin dan percaya Buddha akan mengambil seluruh penyakitnya dan menyembuhkannya. Demikian pula saat gembira, sebagai rasa syukur ia akan melakukan hal yang sama. Tidak heran, dimana-mana patung Buddha umumnya berlapis emas.

Pembuatan Gold Leaf
Pembuatan Gold Leaf

Dan salah satu tempat pembuatan lembaran emas (gold leaf) yang paling terkenal adalah di Mandalay. Tidak hanya di Burma, nama Mandalay harum hingga ke negara-negara tetangga terutama yang berorientasi Buddha Theravada, seperti Thailand. Saat saya mengunjungi tempat pembuatan gold leaf, tampak foto Princess Saradhorn, salah satu putri Raja Thailand yang pernah berkunjung.

Karena agak trauma dengan scam di Thailand, terutama yang berhubungan dengan logam atau batu mulia, Lanjutkan membaca “3 Destinasi Terbaik Yang Wajib Dikunjungi di Mandalay”

Wisata di Mandalay, Kota Yang Tidak Bisa Lepas dari Pagoda

Mandalay Hill Pagoda
Mandalay Hill Pagoda

Jalan-jalan di kota Mandalay, memang tidak dapat dipisahkan dari berkunjung ke Pagoda-Pagoda. Pagoda memang merupakan bagian dari kehidupan masyarakat Burma. Tidak heran karena Buddha merupakan agama mayoritas di Burma, walaupun suara-suara azan terdengar dari hotel tempat saya menginap menandakan Islam juga diterima di Mandalay.  Dan setelah meninggalkan Atumashi Monastery (bisa di baca di bagian pertama), saya melanjutkan perjalanan ke tempat-tempat yang masih berhubungan dengan Pagoda di dalam kota Mandalay. Dalam waktu singkat, masih menggunakan mobil Datsun Sunny-nya, Aung mengantar saya ke depan gerbang sebuah Pagoda yang teduh karena kerimbunan pepohonan.

Pagoda Maha Lokamarazein Kuthodaw

World's Biggest Book
World’s Biggest Book

Di depan gerbang masuk terdapat patung Raja Mindon dan bilah batu yang mendeskripsikan Pagoda ini, Maha Lokamarazein Kuthodaw atau singkatnya dikenal sebagai Pagoda Kuthodaw. Terkenal juga dengan sebutan The World’s Biggest Book.

Tahun 1859, sebagai bentuk kebajikan dari kalangan Istana, Raja Mindon membangun Pagoda, yang menyerupai Pagoda Shwezigon di Bagan ini, lengkap dengan 730 Stupa Putih kecil (disebut Dhamma Cetis atau Kyauksa gu) yang didalamnya terdapat sebidang batu marmer dua muka beraksara Pali. 729 Marmer berisikan Tripitaka, ajaran inti dari Buddha dan 1 Marmer menjelaskan sejarah penulisan ke 729 Marmer tersebut, sehingga diharapkan dapat lestari hingga 5 millenia setelah Tahun Buddha. Inilah yang menyebabkan Pagoda Kuthodaw ini disebut dengan The World’s Biggest Book. Konon Raja Mindon ketika memimpin upacara keagamaan Buddha, ia meminta sekelompok biksu untuk melantunkan semua isi buku tersebut non-stop, dan baru bisa diselesaikan dalam waktu 6 bulan.

Teak Door of Kuthodaw
Teak Door of Kuthodaw

Saya memasuki gerbang masuk Utama yang ada di Selatan melalui sebuah pintu jati berukir bunga, sulur daun dan nats (spirit pelindung). Warna merah keemasan bercampur hiasan mosaik terasa mendominasi Pagoda ini, termasuk lorong dalam (Saungdan) yang terbuka dengan deretan pilar. Menariknya, dunia anak-anak lebih sering memanfaatkan stupa-stupa itu untuk bermain petak umpet sehingga sering terdengar derai gelak tawa diantara alunan doa. Di halaman, tampak pohon kayu tua yang diperkirakan berusia ratusan tahun meranggas tapi tampak menarik sebagai latar depan dari stupa-stupa putih yang menjadi inti Pagoda ini.

Lanjutkan membaca “Wisata di Mandalay, Kota Yang Tidak Bisa Lepas dari Pagoda”

Mengunjungi Mandalay, Kota Kerajaan Terakhir di Burma

Benteng Mandalay
Benteng Mandalay

Awalnya saya mengira Mandalay itu berada di Phillippines, karena ada lagu Mandalay dari La Flavour yang ngetop bersamaan dengan Tagalog Disco. Saya tidak mengira Mandalay itu ada di Burma dan bahkan bisa sampai menjejakkkan kaki ini di bumi Mandalay!

Penerbangan pertama dari Bagan ke Mandalay dengan pesawat baling-baling ATR72 – 500 Air Mandalay yang kurang dari 1 jam, mendarat mulus di Bandara Mandalay (MDL). Namun sebagai salah satu bandara terbesar di Burma, saingan dengan bandara di Yangon dan Naypyidaw (ibu kota Burma yang sekarang), bandara Mandalay terasa sangat lengang, mungkin karena masih pagi atau memang tidak banyak penggunanya.

Di sini, di bandara Mandalay, seperti juga di kota-kota Burma yang sebelumnya saya datangi, saya tetap melewati pemeriksaan paspor untuk diregistrasi oleh petugas berseragam bermuka aneh. Baiklah… dimana kaki berpijak disanalah langit dijunjung… Mandalay I’m coming…

Mandalay, satu-satunya destinasi di Burma yang saya kunjungi tanpa itinerary yang jelas, akomodasinya pun belum dipesan. Tetapi pengalaman perjalanan yang menyenangkan sebelumnya dapat meyakinkan bahwa rasa ingin tahu yang membuncah bercampur kesenangan menjumpai hal baru akan menambah makna perjalanan ini. Saya melangkah yakin ke konter akomodasi dan taxi, untuk memesan akomodasi sekaligus taxi ke pusat kota. Mbak-mbak cantik di balik konter memberikan rekomendasi penginapan yang terjangkau dan aman untuk female solo-traveler seperti saya. Dia juga memberikan rekomendasi sewa mobil yang dapat saya gunakan untuk berkeliling kota, tetapi langsung saya tolak karena mahalnya minta ampun.

Untuk sampai ke pusat kota yang jauhnya 35 km, saya menggunakan taxi, yang pengemudinya mengajak seorang temannya untuk ngobrol dan membiarkan saya menikmati perjalanan jauh itu dengan latar belakang suara brisik pembicaraan mereka dalam bahasa Burma. Sebuah tantangan galau… hehehe…

Lanjutkan membaca “Mengunjungi Mandalay, Kota Kerajaan Terakhir di Burma”