I am at that stage when I am way too lazy to blog serious stuff. I blame it on Twitter.
So, more pictures. Let us hope with this one, I am less careless with the grammar. I have re-read some of the recent entries, and oh my god, embarrassing. Still…
I present to you, the Shwedagon pagoda.
Shwedagon is big and it is impressive but I think multiple writings exaggerate how it dominates Rangoon’s skyline. It might have in the old days, but you will not see it from downtown Rangoon. Nor at night, the lights reflected from Shwedagon’s golden stupa would fill the night sky (okay, maybe it did a little bit). This is just not the Empire State Building or the Petronas Twin Towers where you can spot it miles away. Those writers just have too much poetic license.
The approach to Shwedagon is great nevertheless. I walked from the downtown to Shwedagon, which was probably 4km-5km apart. At first I saw nothing. Just houses and barracks and trees. After awhile, a huge golden structure appeared at the end of that long road I was on.
I spent about 3 to 4 hours there. Not that it takes that much time to go explore the pagoda. This is not Angkor Wat or even Borobodur. It lacks details. You see them and you walk to the next thing. There is not Churning of the Milky Ocean kind of thing.
It was just that the human behavior was so interesting. It provided me with countless opportunities for photography. I wished I had a tripod with me since it got more interesting after sundown.
At some point while watching tourists snapping pictures of monks and praying Buddhists, a thought came to me: has Buddhism become a touristic attraction itself?
I mean, visitors just go round and round, coming in none stop, taking pictures of devotees and monks. While it is nice to have the religion being so friendly and open to tourists and outsiders, I do feel, somehow, the religion has been… commercialized, becoming a subject of camera shots.
A way of life becomes nothing but a product of tourism.
I remember in Mandalay, as monks walked across the Amarapura bridge, a tourist with his big camera probably worth thousands of dollars, with lens so big, you would need a stand to support it, pointing it to a monk, almost to the face, if I can have that poetic license to myself. The monk was miffed. Such disrespect, I would think he said. The monk made a gesture, telling him no.
A revolt from commercialization, maybe?