Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I walked almost everywhere in Yangon, though there are taxis everywhere and they are cheap. But as a photography-focused person I like to explore places by myself and not through the eyes of a tour guide or taxi driver. 

So, I walked from Chinatown through the streets of Yangon to Botataung Paya, or Botataung Pagoda as my second place to immerse myself in. 

After the Strand Hotel the walk is not nice. It was a big street filled with trucks going into and coming out of the harbor of Yangon. It's loud and it's full of dust and dirt and I was happy to see the entrance gate of Botataung Pagoda. 

Here again, as a foreigner you are being asked to enter the front office, take your shoes off, sign into the registration book and pay the entrance fee AND an additional camera fee. Something new I learned in Myanmar - camera fee, video fee, iPhone fee...endless is the list of new inventions to charge a visitor. And in my case charge a person who wants to worship the Buddha (even though I take photos)!  Though the fees are just a small amount compared to Shwedagon Pagoda, they are rather annoying.

Botataung Pagoda is more of a spiritual place than the busy Sule Pagoda appeared on first sight due to the quietness besides of the river, while Sule sits in the middle of a traffic circle.  This is Yangon's other place which contains Buddha's relics and lots of local people come here to pray, pay respect, meditate or get help from other spiritual deities, like Nats. 

The Pagoda itself is a gold-coated maze where people walk around and view hundreds of Buddha statues behind bars. I am not sure if the Buddha here is protected from the people or the people are protected from the Buddha's influence. The relics can be viewed in the middle of the maze through an open window where you stand in line to wait until it is your turn to pray. 

Naturally I focus on temples and pagodas because it is my priority when travelling throughout Asia, so I spent several hours in Botataung Pagoda, also knowing that my shoes will be safe inside the front office. 

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