It took me just a few days to write this but much longer to post it. It actually took six months. Can you believe it? And I’m not even finished ‘cuz I lost interest after writing about my first day. Okay…this is about my trip to Mingun.
Our train left at 12 noon. I was hoping that we get upper class seats but for some reason, the person my father had assigned to buy the tickets only bought lower class tickets. I was hoping for the worst but the seats are far more comfortable than other ordinary wooden seat. The only thing was it wasn’t all that comfortable enough for us to fall asleep so I was pretty much awake for the whole night. The other discomfort was the toilet which was pretty smelly as usual. I had to hold my breath every time I use it. Since we took the night train, we didn’t get the chance to see the landscape beyond Pyinmanar as it got dark. The train arrived at Mandalay around 3pm. We slept for a few hours at the rest house before getting up at 6 am. From there, we were taken to a Shan noodle shop to eat breakfast and we started our journey to Mingun. I used to thought that Mingun can be only reached by a ferry boat but you can actually reach it via Sagaing. It took more than an hour to reach Mingun. We have never been there before it was the major highlight of our trip.
Mingun is an unfinished pagoda built by King Boedawpaya. He wanted to build the largest pagoda in the world. At that time, there was a saying that by the time the pagoda is finished, the kingdom will collapse. So he stopped building the pagoda and it was left as it is seen today. However, the pagoda and the giant lions statutes suffered from the earthquake in the 1970s and that’s why there’s a crack in the pagoda and we can no longer see the lions in their original shapes. All we get to see now is the big butts. Some also say that the King shouldn’t have built the lions first instead of the pagoda ‘cuz it was bad omen. I remembered reading about Minister U Paw Oo who is also known for his practical jokes. One day, after viewing the lions, he wanted to comment on it, probably to say the lions look scary and the butts are too big, etc. So he said “The Lions are…” but then the King came up from behind the lions and asked him what he wanted to say. So he immediately changed his statement by saying “Due to your majesty’s grace, the lions look as if they are ready to jump to the opposite shore.” Okay, I know I suck at translation but it’s funnier in Myanmar.
The next highlight in Mingun beside the pagoda is the Mingun Bell. It’s the third largest bell and the only ringing bell in the world. My mother said she used to thought the bell was situated on a small hill but was shocked to see it on a flat ground. Also, a iron fence is put around the place to prevent people from writing on the bell. I really hate to see people destroying such property. Now the original texts on the bell have faded and I’m sure it must have been difficult to remove all those craps written using correction pens.
Myatheindan Pagoda is situated quite close to both places so we went there next. I have always been fascinated by the architecture of that pagoda.
People say it’s better to travel to Mingun via the ferry ‘cuz one can enjoy the river view. But for us, we wanted to visit Sagaing also so we took the road trip.
*The above photos are taken by dawn1o9 & my brother.