Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Holy Yangon!

I'm back! On my ship that is. After all the drama over the luggage limitation, I found out at the airport that I'd overdone the tight packing and my two bags weighed in a full kilo under the stipulated limit :(. What made it worse is the knowlegde that other members of the crew happily landed up with luggage weighing upto 12 kilos and didn't have to leave anything ashore!! Life is so unfair :((.
Anyway, to get to the point. I was expecting nothing different from my usual visits to cities during crew change: one night, walk around a little bit, which wouldn't be all that exciting since airports and airport hotels are situated in the most boring bits of almost every city. However, a late stroke of brilliance ended in a brief but fascinating visit to Myanmar's largest and most celebrated pagoda: the Shwedagon Pagoda, and boy, is it big!!! And golden like nothing I've ever seen before. There is this immense conical temple in the centre of the gigantic marble floored quadrangle! And all around it there are beautiful structures, golden, white, red, yellow! All this with the innumerable images of the Buddha enshrined within them cast a wonderful spell upon the onlooker!
Of course the spell might also have a little bit on the fact that the lower part of the central stupa is plated with 8688 solid gold bars, the upper part with another 13153! The tip of the stupa, so high that it threatens to touch the sky, is set with 5448 diamonds, 2317 rubies, sapphires and other gems, 1065 golden bells, and at the very top, a single 76-carat diamond!! But then all that I came to know only later :).

Still rather in awe of Shwedagon the next morning, I embarked upon my first ever helicopter flight! The most radical difference, as might be obvious to anyone with half a working mind, is in the takeoff. There's no long taxi-ing, no violent thrust of the powerful jets being brought to full power, no sudden upward surge. Instead, what there is, is a violent shuddering as the overhead rotor slowly builds up to max speed, a slight tentative roll along the runway, and then one is simply spirited off the ground. I actually had to look out of the window to reassure myself that we were indeed airborne! And at the end of the hour-long flight I finally saw the ship the way I've seen it in so many pictures: from high above! Quite a wonderful crew change actually, in the end..

Current Mood: quite happy actually!
Listening to: U2 - All because of you


Anonymous said...

Oh wow! I would so love to have been there. Am reading(still!) 'The Glass Palace' now which is mostly set in Burma.. so the photos of the real thing is quite amazing :)


Hemamalini said...

i bet you google searched for the pagoda's name itself(my evil grin)
okay,my crazy 12 hours of work today is making me flippant than ever!

kray said...

@ Sup: :D probably not.. not for too long at least, other than the pagoda, the only things of interest are the jungles of Mandalay!

@ hema: no, I remembered the name. the stone details, obviously! tho the cabbie did tell us about the gold and the big diamond at the top. you really weren't paying attention were you /:).

Akshi said...

Good to hear you got on ship nice and happy. So when do we start seeing the sunset, sunrise photos again? :D

kray said...

:)) maybe not much really.. shift's reverse.. midnight to midday, so I sleep thru sunset. and sunrises are a little hazy these days.

crazylilthing said...

hello hello
thank god u reached safe n sound .. was worried they might not give u boarding pass or some such keeda wud happen .. considering u had pains with visa tickets n wat not :D

anyways . hadn't been visiting ur blog in a longgg time .. so missed out a bit ..nuthing but work happening here .. waise i made shrimp fry yesterday :d am pretty proud of it ...

kray said...

@ crazylilthing: chigri bhaja?!! waah good good, u can feed me in case i manage to land up sometime :D

crazylilthing said...

sure sure .. i can make maach nowadays.. n i have cook book also .. so u shd hurry up n come here...:D