On Wednesday after lunch Debasmita Dasgupta (find her blog here) and me managed to get to the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the biggest, oldest and most impressive ones that we could just not visit. It was great because being the two of us only we got to talk a lot about ASEF where she works and about media convergence in general as well as social media coverage of social entrepreneurs. Here are some of my photos, but if you´d like to check out hers here, they are much better with a good camera (and eye!)! Even if it was really hot and we were tired, it was amazing to whitness the peace in this place and the way people enjoy it, either praying, reflecting, talking to mates or even having a siesta!
The entrance to it is 5 USD and you have to take off your shoes to get in the premises as well as have proper length in your clothes. The back of the ticket you can read this: "The origin of the Shwedagon Pagoda materialized in brillian epoch in Buddhist history over 2500 years ago. In India, Prince Siddhartha had just attained Buddhahood when he was visited by two brothers Tapussa and Bhallika, merchants from Myamar who offered a gift of honey cakes. In return, the Buddha personally removed eight hairs from his head and gave these to the two brothers for enshrinement in their native town of Okkalapa which is now the City of Yangon. On their return, the two brothers presented the Buddha´s hairs to the King of Okkalapa who erected the pagoda and enshrined the eight hairs together witht he relics of the previous three Buddhas.
The original height of the pagoda was 66 feet. From the 14th Centruy onward successive monarchs in Myanmar rebuilt or regilded it until it reached its present height of 326 feet. It has ten unique different sections, namely, the base, the three terraces called "Pyisayan" the "Khaung Laung" so called because of its bell shaped, the "Baung Yit" with distinct embossed bands, the "Thabeik" (monk´s food bowl), the "Kya-lan" an ornamental lotus flower, the "Hngnet Pyaw-Bu" (Banana Bud), th "Hti" (Umbrella), the "Hngetmana", the flag shape vane which revolves to the direction of the wind, and the Seinbu (Diamond bud). The "Hti" and the "Hngetmana" and the "Seinbu" are decorated enlaid with 3154 gold bells, 79569 diamonds and other precious stones". The video is not mine but it definitely shows what this place is like!
The following day we departed back to our homes, transformed by the experience and with good ideas to think about and implement. I enjoyed the ride to the airport with Jacek from Poland (Klub Gaja) and Mogkol from Thailand (the papas of the group as per Anton´s saying!) as well as Orapin from the same country who had just gotten a new land for her project: Kokoboard. We enjoyed some good expresso at the airport and the last few conversations! Usually I don´t enjoy so much talking to people on planes anymore, I use it as my thinking/reflecting time, but this short flight to Bangkok I did have an amazing chat with Niels W. Guenther from the Three Diseases Fund from UNOps. Nice to meet you all and let´s see when our paths cross again...