Bath Time With Buddha

PagodaBuddhaOne of my top tips when booking a bike trip is to arrive at the meeting point at least a day early. You’ll need a bit of contingency time if things don’t go to plan,

But if all is well, the time won’t be wasted. Before you set off, it’s good to get to grips with the food, culture, a few words of the language and as these trips often start in a city, you can visit one or two interesting spots.

While waiting to go on a Mountain Bike trip in Myanmar,  I spent some alternative thumb-twiddling time visiting Shwedagon Pagoda.

Even a sit-on-the-fence agnostic like me couldn’t resist a visit to the oldest and most sacred site in Myanmar – thought to encase eight strands of hair from the holy man himself. I like to keep my options open when it comes to the afterlife, so I went to pay my respects.

Shewdagon Pagoda rises almost 110 metres from the city like a giant golden bell. It’s smothered in hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the largest is 72 carats.

There are thousands of temples across the country creating Burma’s apt nickname name; “The Golden Land”, but Shwedagon Pagoda is the grandest of all.

I was pleasantly surprised to pick up free, speedy WIFI in the pagoda’s public areas, flabbergasted to be able to upload to Facebook and caught like a rabbit in the headlights when a local man dressed in a traditional longyi asked me, “you want to bathe with Buddha?”

He handed me a wooden ladle, pointed to a statue of Buddha, then to a fountain and explained that I should pour water over the statue three times. I nervously went with the flow hoping Buddha wouldn’t mind being washed by the unworthy.

“All will be good now for your bike trip,” the man assured me. A dollar sealed the good karma deal.

Later that day, when I joined up with the rest of the bike trip crew, guide Julian delivered another surprise:

“An unusual cold snap is coming in. When we get to the mountains we could be experiencing minus temperatures.”

I had no idea why I had packed layers of merino wool for temperatures expected to be in the high 20s and 30s celsius.

I guess Buddha works in surprising ways.

More Info:

Red Spokes specialise in riding remote and spectacular roads in secluded parts of the planet.

Manie Sithu Travel is a local Myanmar operator for all types of travel experiences.


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3 Responses to Bath Time With Buddha

  1. Leigh January 11, 2014 at 2:30 am #

    Love the spontaneity of the trip and you’re willingness to embrace the uncertainty of how it would all unfold.There is a Canadian company with a similar philosophy – and very good prices that I have used to bike in Mexico and Hawaii – Gabriola Cycle and Kayak. I love the unexpected surprises on trips like this.

    Happy New Year.
    Leigh recently posted..A Day Hike in Arizona’s Superstition MountainsMy Profile

  2. Tracey January 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    I love a bit of flexibility and don’t mind “winging it” as I go. It could be my undoing one day though – I must be careful what I wish for ; ) Happy New Year Leigh.
    Tracey recently posted..Mountain Biking in Burma: A Surprising StartMy Profile

  3. Nathan Burris June 21, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    What a scenic route. If I’m not playing or watching basketball, i’m out biking. I especially love biking in scenic routes. Something about the beauty around me that keeps my adrenaline flowing.

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