|Former glorious empire in 1580|
The former capital of Rangoon is not known for its architecture. There are some striking cottages built by the British. They are far from beautiful but quite out of place. Yet, former colonial Rangoon is worth seeing. It is immediately noticeable that the city is not as dirty as many other Asian metropolises.
|Largest Buddha statues in Asia in Burma (WQ)|
Every compassionate Buddhist resists the killing of living beings, but it seems to be no obstacle to eating the murdered remains of animals for many.
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|Shwedagon Pagoda (Farnesina/flickr)|
The Shwedagon complex is situated on a high hill. Golden and well lit, Shwedagon shines and sparkles from afar. Entering the sacred sanctuary, as in many places in the country, is only allowed barefoot.
During the colonial period, British occupiers emphasized their superiority by blatantly disregarding this tribute and keeping their footwear on. This must have cut deep wounds in the Buddhist psyche. Today one dare not try such an offense or risk being immediately called to order.
The steps up are quite a climb. Only once one has reached the top, gasping for breath, does the stupa become overwhelming, particularly in the bright morning sun. It is blindingly brilliant. Bring sunglasses. For all that glitters is gold here.
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This pagoda is a place to pay tribute to the highest aspiration (enlightenment and nirvana), individually or with a loved one, a friend, or relatives, as well as to gain ordinary happiness. People are very devout, sometimes briefly for their visit, sometimes for a long time after.
Simultaneously, the pagoda is a place to stroll around and chat. In brief, it is a place for worship as well as a social place, serene and relaxed. The city center is small enough for a pleasant walk in what was once the wealthiest country in Southeast Asia before being plundered by the British.
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