Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Intriguing Myanmar!

Part I-Yangon

My First Day to the intriguing Myanmar is in Yangon, the capital city! Serendipitously or maybe unfortunately or both, it fell on the full moon, which they call Full Moon Day of Warso. It is one of the 7 sacred days for Teravada Buddhism or Orthodox Buddhism that dominates Myanmar (Ref: http://www.myanmars.net/myanmar-culture/myanmar-buddhism.htm). So we went to the most famous landmark in Myanmar, the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is said to be 2,500 years old, renovated many times and known to enshrine the 8 strands of hair from Gautama Buddha. We came in via the west gate because our taxi cannot maneuver anymore through the traffic. We better walk or loose precious hours in waiting for cars to clear. We went early anticipating many people going there, but lo and behold every Burmese, young and old are there!!! Oh My God, it is very difficult to maneuver ourselves through the high stairs. At least there is a divider at the stairs for the traffic flow.

We already know that shoes or slippers are removed before entering temples, yet we thought in these multitude of people it might not be very strict this time. Children outside the entrance are selling plastic bags for easily lugging the shoes with you through the temple complex. It is amazing how a monk giving some flyers noticed i didn't remove my socks, although i am holding my shoes. He said "REMOVE SOCKS", which i hurriedly complied with embarrassment.

West Entrance guarded by two mythical lion-dragons

The west entrance is the only entrance without vendors and provided with scalators to the platform.

a reclining Buddha in one of the side temples

 I wasn't able to take photos while on the stairs to the complex, it is impossible, the only area free of other people is the place you are standing on.

the main and biggest stupa of the Shwedagon Paya

Shwedagon Pagoda stands on a platform of over 5 hectares on a hill 58 meters above sea level. There are many stupas but this main stupa is totally solid, covered with gold and the top is studded with diamonds. Those structures covered with cloth are under renovation. At the very top of the spire is the diamond orb, that is a hollow gold sphere studded with 4351 diamonds totalling 1800 carats. At the topmost is a single 76 carat diamond. 

 It is also difficult to have a self souvenir photo, as before you can click, someone will already pass between you and the photographer. Getting persons photos is a big challenge, so we better take the stupas shots!

 I forgot to say that it is raining periodically, so the floor is wet and a bit muddy. We were in pants so it is easy to walk, i am amazed at the traditional Burmese women's dresses, as some are very body fitting with narrow skirts. I guess it is difficult to walk in them. What with the men wearing sarong, which are long skirts too! Being unaccustomed wearing these outfits, i imagine its difficulty.

One of the many structures of Buddha at Shwedagon Paya

 The South Entrance is a short distance from the main street, the stairs are full of vendors and all types of things from flowers, to gemstones to paintings, etc, etc. The lady seller courteously obliged to pose for our souvenir shot, she is wearing a conventional Burmese dress.

  ...souvenir items of all sizes and materials

Schwedagon Pagoda viewed from the 21st floor of a nearby hotel, at the Sky Bistro. We went there not only for lunch but for the view. 

I searched for the synonym of the word intriguing and the first link says the following, all of them are true! 

Synonyms: absorbing, arresting, consuming, engaging, engrossing, enthralling, fascinating, gripping, immersing, intriguing, involving, riveting

Related Words: breathtaking, electric, electrifying, exciting, exhilarating, galvanizing, inspiring, rousing, stimulating, stirring, thrilling; provocative, tantalizing; emphatic, showy, splashy, striking; alluring, attractive, bewitching, captivating, charming, enchanting, spellbinding; hypnotizing, mesmerizing; curious, odd, unusual, weird; amazing, astonishing, astounding, eventful, eye-opening, fabulous, marvelous (or marvellous), surprising, wonderful, wondrous; amusing, entertaining

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lotus Colors

I took these photos in front of a Buddhist shrine in Bangkok, Thailand. The bees are obviously having a feast on them. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Escapades to the World of Buddha

My two former officemates who are now working elsewhere invited me to join them to Bangkok this year. That was at the beginning of the year. I just said yes with the condition that we will be going to Myanmar other than just Bangkok. Two of us have been to Bangkok a few times, only Shawie has not been there yet. They agreed and online plane bookings to Bangkok were hurriedly completed. There was no direct flight to Myanmar (formerly Burma), so we automatically will pass by Bangkok. Another serendipitous situation works for us fairly well. My former officemate travel buddy is now working for an international organization based in Bangkok. That is a bonus. We can stay in his condo unit, we already have a travel guide, someone will feed us, he is also a good cook and he will be joining us to Myanmar! That was a very good plan at the start of the year!

We set our dates in July to accomodate his schedules, and we didn't book our Yangon, Myanmar tickets nor accomodations because his staff will book all of us. Sometimes, plans no matter how perfect are not really perfect after all. He was given assignments on our travel dates, and who are we to interfere in an employer-employee transactions! No matter how bad and disagreeable the circumstances were, we continued our journey on our own; booked our tickets and accomodations, plan a new itinerary and searched for a lot of possibilities. For consolation his staff booked us to a convenient and nice hotel in Bangkok on our way back home. So we suddenly put our thinking to be on our own, and that is more exciting. So our stay in Bangkok was set 1 day before and 1 day after Myanmar.

Our friend has a corner unit on a high rise building, where we had a good view of the city at night. 

We started early as we only have a day and a half before our flight. We first took the Chao Praya Cruise, where there are 13 pier stops. A full ticket entitles one to get off at any pier, roam around the tourist sites near it, then ride the boat again for another pier stop of interest. We only did 5 stops, as some are shopping stops and we didn't like that. We just toured those with temples and local market. We content ourselves mostly with the sights while on the boat. Chao Praya is the main river in Bangkok and very useful also to commerce and tourism.

 Those boats are for rent by small groups, stops and duration depends on their negotiation.

 This is the big passenger boat that allows passengers to have tickets only to the pier of their destination. We bought the full ticket allowing us to get off and on the piers we want to see.

 Wat Arun Temple is a famous landmark in Bangkok, but we failed to get off in this pier. We were busy talking and we forgot to disembark early. We saw people climbing to the middle of the temple and walking around. We should have done that too! Anyway, maybe there's a next time.

 That is another private boat for rent, resembles boats of old. 

 Another older styled boat.

There are also beautiful high rises along this famous Chao Praya River.

look at that modern bridge on the right, isn't that lovely, complementing the twin towers

The Peninsula, Bangkok

 We almost finished the whole day, and we capped the day with a Thai massage in the afternoon just before dinner. We intended to have the dinner cruise, but it turned out that cruises sometimes take day-offs too. So we landed at the restaurant near where the cruise starts, near the steel bridge.

 Periodic drizzles did not drive people to take covers, and we enjoyed the view and the food.

Sea bass and salad are just two in our menu, and i really love the seabass with that sauce, oh i can eat that again and again. Shawie didn't know that orchid flowers can be eaten, she thought that is only for decoration. So i showed her how to eat that. She was so astonished because most people here collects orchids, there they make them into salads, haha!

We stayed longer there talking and eating, drinking and eating again. Then we left to have coffee in another place, and it was really an awesome nightcap! Bangkok this time is placed at a different light in my memory trunk!

Then the rest is sleep!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wildflowers Again

At the height of our rainy season grasses and weeds also make their profuse appearance. But as the term connotes, they normally mean invasiveness. They are not purposely removed or lessened they just stay, multiply and invade as they wish. If weeds are favored by animals, then they might be cut and carried to the animals, but if not they grow and develop to their full glory.

This Ruellia tuberosa lines the side streets, and i have been posting them before in my previous posts. This time they are not fully blooming yet so i chose only one clump. In a little while there will be a lot of them, by that time i home i will be going home to take the photos.

These grasses are also at the side streets, and they are at different levels of blooming. The purplish hues are when the yellow pollens have already fallen.

A still pollen grain-filled inflorescence

with only a few pollen grains left on the spike, leaving the purplish structures

This is an almost spent inflorescence showing the white structures that will eventually hold the seeds.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rains At Last!

The much awaited rainy season has arrived. In previous years,  May is the start of the rainy season, but this year some rains dropped in June although not as plenty as in previous years. It is already July but the heat is still high; rains do not come every afternoon, and plants are still thirsty. I guess the clouds are still not yet very heavy, or winds are not carrying them in our direction. Nevertheless, my 5th Floor Window scenes changed dramatically. However, yesterday i purposely went home early, yet the west horizon is closed with thick black clouds. I didn't bother to shoot as the sunset is not visible at all.   These are a few shoots for the past few days.

clouds trying to group themselves

i love it when the sun's color can still peep through, as fiery as this

some afternoons, the clouds are just laid back, resting

sometimes color is different just like this

And when my horizon looks like this, i immediately get my plants from outside the window. In a few minutes heavy rains will be here, and my pets might die! It is not a lovely sunset photo, but we sorely need this for our plants, and for ourselves to walk outside in slight comfort. Rains cool the environment so quickly, as well as my tired disposition. Rains, rains, rains, please come more often! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dry Season Farm Strategies

I visited a friend's farm a few weeks ago. He was so ecstatic in inviting us because this is the first time he did a farm like this. There is a pond and above it are mango trees. He has been trying to incorporate his hobby researches in these undertakings. Despite the long travel of 5 hours from the city, i went there. I also slept for the night to give the driver some rest in between, and also to maximize our conversations. 
The pond is stocked with fish during the dry season, he intends to also put in shrimps during the rainy months. Water level is low now that is not suitable for the shrimps. But it is the shrimps that i love better. So i have to be back next time.

 These buoys helps the person in balancing himself during the feedings. It also serves as floaters for the aerators. Below at the background shows the aerator with the above buoy. Aerators disturbs the water to mix in oxygen. Otherwise, the pond residents will compete with oxygen that they might die of suffocation if the water is not mixed like these.

 This is another type of aerator while in full operation. It paddles water in circular fashion to mix in air in the water. Have you heard of fishes that died of drowning? It seems funny at first, but it happens in overly populated ponds. During extreme heat of environment, fishes compete for air and they drown when not properly helped to breath.

  The aerator equipment at rest.

 The sunset shot on the pond, with a shaggy chick appreciating the sunset too.

The mango trees are also laden with fruits, my friend was able to induce off-season fruiting with his concoction of strategies, organically, without use of chemicals. I was given a basketfull of the harvest to bring home. And that is on top of unusually lengthy conversations that binges on any topic under the sun! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Poem by Christopher Marlowe

I mentioned some words from this poem in my last post, and said i forgot already the poem. I mentioned it as a caption to my silhouette photo of a hippeastrum bud reaching for the sunset. I realized it inspired an English writer-photographer of this generation to post the poem in her blogsite. She thanked me in her last post for making her recall this. Thank you also for your visit, as i can now see you wonderful photographs. I am now following you.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 

By Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove 

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields, woods or steepy mountain yields. 

And we will sit upon the rocks, seeing the shepherds feed their flocks, 
By shallow rivers to whose falls, melodious birds sing madrigals. 

And I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies, 
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle embroidered all with leaves of myrtle; 

A gown made of the finest wool, which from our pretty lambs we pull; 
Fair lined slippers for the cold, with buckles of th purest gold; 

A belt of straw and ivy buds, with coral clasps and amber studs: 
And if these pleasures may thee move, come live with me and be my love. 

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing for thy delight each May morning: 
If these delights thy mind may move, then live with me and be my love.

....etc, etc, etc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sunsets and Window Pets

You are already very familiar with my 5th Floor Window sunsets, something that gives meanings to my afternoons. You also very well know that no two sunsets are alike and they are just like our finger prints or at more modern parlance, they are just like our DNA, each one is unique!

From the clear dry season skies, they now start to be dramatic again, when the clouds start to move and rains begin to come. I love rainy days more than the hot dry season. That is not just because of the environment but also because of the quality they make of my sunsets.

The sun occupies a different foreground throughout the year, from the left to the right of my horizon. I love the earth for moving constantly to give me a different perspective of the sun.

I only have three main prominent structures at my horizon, but they can give me very wide variation of canvass. I can choose many frames on that expanse. Can you see the very small crescent moon on that blue space? I love my view, i assure you that!

My pet hippeastrum is just starting to bloom, as if it is whispering to the sun! Wait for me my love, and we will do the pleasures all. I already forgot the lines of the famous poem. 

And i can also superimpose my pets to be captured for posterity. My hippeastrum flowers are just saying goodbye, as if it is going with the day, to meet the night for rest. A good life is spent, loved and treasured. 

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