Once we finally left the poolside, we walked around the old colonial quarter, followed by Chinatown and the Indian quarter. We sampled Indian food, had a sugarcane juice on the riverbank, had our first go at changing money on the black market and visited our first pagoda of the week situated on a roundabout. (there will be MANY more!)
Let's set now the rules for the pagoda:
- No shoes, no socks and remember that some money will be required for the man who looks after the shoes
- Pay fees and photo permit
- Long trousers/skirts for women. Bring your own or some more money will be required! And be careful when sitting down, a bit of calf out and there will be 2 officers explaining that needs to be corrected.(if I sound slightly annoyed by the full thing, it's only a fraction of how I felt when I saw the "no ladies allowed" sign in more than a few pagodas! Who would have thought Buddhism was a sexist religion?)
- Always go around temple clock wise
- Identify the animal linked to day of birth (guinea pig for Friday, lion for Tuesday, elephant 1 for Wednesday morning, elephant 2 for Wednesday afternoon and I do not remember the rest...) then, pour 9 glasses of water on Buddha and 5 on the animal of the day of birth. If possible, offer flowers, flags or money at the statues.
Christmas morning is dedicated to the visit of the main pagoda of Rangoon. It's our own version of going to church on Christmas day except that the mix of Buddhism and Hindu which forms the religion of Myanmar has plenty of gods, just a wide choice to satisfy everyone!
Soon after it's time to go back to the airport for our first internal flight. It seems to be easier to build an air strip than a road so flying is the main way of transportation to the north. We are now heading to Lake Inle.
We will pass back Rangoon on the way back from the North at the end of the holidays and the only touristy thing this time was an extensive night photo session at the pagoda we had a look at on Christmas day.