Yangon Stories and Tips

In a Monk's Bedroom????

Botaduang Monastery Photo, Yangon, Myanmar

Having lived in Thailand, I knew women weren't to touch a monk or give anything directly to them. Furthermore, they didn't smile much less laugh. Bowing your head as monk walked by was expected. Therefore, this day's events were odd indeed.

Heading into town in the general direction of Sule Pagoda I noticed a monastery and walked inside the gate. I hadn't gotten too far and wasn't even contemplating going inside any building when a monk came towards me and pointing to my sneakers tersely said, "no shoes".

Taking my shoes and socks off I apologized profusely. I stood momentarily gazing at the building. By no means was I going to pull out my camera now. I started to turn around to leave when he pointed towards a building. I stood in the doorway looking at the Buddha statues inside when he motioned for me to go inside. I looked around a bit and mumble a couple of times that it was beautiful. Just as I was about to search for my wallet he pointed to the donation box. I was ready to depart rapidly after putting money in the box. Again I headed toward the exit.
He said, "come", and dutifully I followed. Crossing a large empty room to the far corner he pulled a sheet aside from a doorway. He beckoned me to enter and sit on the mat on the floor. The last thing I ever expected was to be inside a monks room! My mind raced with thoughts of running, but I was frozen.

He brought out a bottle of water and a cup and filled it for me. While he was asking me where I was from and where I was staying, he peeled a couple of tangerines feeding sections of it to me. By this time another monk had come. His English was very limited.

The first monk continued to ask questions like where I was going. I told him Sule Paya. He said he would join me. We left the monastery and headed across the street to a restaurant where he ordered some type of thick pumpkin juice that was terrific. He also ordered a sweet pastry for me but not himself. I reached for my wallet and he said he would get it.

He asked why I didn't take pictures as most people do. I told him without seeing others do so, I wasn't sure it was permitted. I thought this was a good cover the fear that had gripped me the shoe incident which led to not taking any photos.

We head for a bus, which I knew was free for him and yet he paid for me. He accompanied me around Sule Paya. Details of the experiences at the temple are in the Sule Paya entry.

As we parted, we exchanged address, phone numbers and email addresses. Although he had the chance to practice his English, it was I who gained insight.

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