Myanmar #2

Yesterday I showed you photos of young monks, novices, and nuns. I am pretty sure that, in Myanmar, Buddhism IS the welfare system. I’m also pretty sure the youngsters that shave their heads not only dream of attaining enlightenment, but joining a monastery provides them with structure, a sense of purpose, a roof over their heads, a bed (more like a woven mat), regular meals, and maybe a sense of belonging. Myanmar lacks the social structure to take care of its poor any other way. The government is run by thugs and there are very few police, and those are mostly traffic cops. Religion keeps the masses in check.

The people have little to spare but they shower their Buddhas with gold. Below is a prime example: Shwedagon Pagoda, 2,500 years old and several TONS of solid gold, with over a hundred solid gold pagodas and Buddha figures. I included a link if you want to dig deeper. This incredible pagoda dominates the landscape of Yangon (Rangoon) and it completely BLEW my mind. Just keep in mind that anything in the pictures that LOOKS like gold IS real gold.

The entrance to Shwedagon.IMG_0200

There were so many Buddha figures in this room my camera couldn’t capture them. Maybe 50 or 60.IMG_0208


The central stupa, which I haven’t shown you yet, is surrounded by hundreds of smaller pagodas.


It goes on and on, in a circle. IMG_0216

Here is the central tower. A monk walks in meditation, giving you a sense of the size of this thing. My camera couldn’t capture it all. IMG_0217

As the sun set, the light became ethereal. IMG_0228

This Buddha (below) was in another part of the country. There must be thousands of solid gold Buddhas in Myanmar. IMG_0294

Here’s another one. IMG_0451

And another one.IMG_0446

In this chamber, men put gold leaf onto the Buddha. Women are forbidden. Note the red sign in the lower right. IMG_0350



  1. I think you got that assessment in one go. Interesting how a set of circumstances can evolve and play out.

    Beautiful photos though. The statuary looks massive.

  2. Amazing that no one tries to steal it! NPR did a recent program on people stealing metals (esp. copper) from Cleveland and then reselling it. Great photos!

  3. Those Buddhas are gorgeous! All of your pics are amazing, Ryan!


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