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    Tropical Heat Tour: Myanmar Part 11

    Monday, September 3, 2012
    Mandalay, Myanmar

    The souvenir vendor I bought postcards from at Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar.

    One of the 729 stupas containing inscriptions that comprise the world's largest book at Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar.

    A man hammers chimes at Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar.

    I rented a bicycle again and moseyed on around to the opposite corner of Mandalay Palace, which is a giant square–a mile long on each side–in the middle of town surrounded by a moat. I ended up at Kuthodaw Pagoda, one of the most beautiful Buddhist temple complexes in Mandalay. The centerpiece is a huge golden chedi that is a duplicate of Shwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of Burmese stupas built in 1102 AD near Bagan. Kuthodaw also contains the world’s largest book that is really not a book at all, but a field of large white stupas, each of which contains a marble slab inscribed on both sides with a page of text from the Tipitaka, the entire Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. Several ornate red and gold gates permit entry and exit from the compound, and it’s such a nice, picturesque place, I’m surprised they don’t charge admission to tourists, as it attracts quite a few every day. But, there are some persistent souvenir sellers to make up for the lack of admission. I hadn’t bought any postcards in Myanmar yet, so I got a few from one of the sweet girls who kept following me around.

    The Northeast section of  Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar.

    A flower seller out in front of  Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar.

    The front entry of  Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar.

    I also captured some amazing footage of a smiling old man playing a couple of metal chimes with small hammers. As he struck each one, an entrancing tone spooled out into the evening air. A bit later, a couple of girls, who seemed really sweet and happy, tried to sell me a chime. One of them hammered it, then fluctuated the pitch by opening and closing her mouth right in front of it, which was funny. It sounded amazing. I was psyched I got a good video of that. On the way out, I talked to an old lady who said she used to teach English to kids until a few months ago when she got disabled in a bicycle accident. Now she can’t teach anymore and hangs out in front of Kuthodaw asking tourists for money. It’s tragic how one small incident like that can really cause a lot of hardship in someone’s life.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

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