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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Memories of Mandalay cruise....

Few religious monuments in the world cast as powerful a spell as Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, the gigantic golden stupa rising on the northern fringes of the city. The pagoda can be entered via four covered stairways with the number of steps ranging from 104 to 166.  We entered via the Southern Stairway, which also has a lift. 

Emerging from among them like a great ship rises the Shwe Dragon.  The terrace was created in the 15th century.  The main platform is inlaid with marble slabs, which can be hot under unaccustomed bare feet, so a mat pathway is laid out for visitors. 

Surrounding the main pagoda is a dazzling array of pagodas, temples, pavilions, and shrines, all of which have specific names and significance.  This visit to Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda was unquestionably one of the high points of the trip. It was appropriately the last site that we visited in Myanmar.

Viking held its farewell dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel.  Once again, we had the buffet dinner, which was exceptional.
The next morning, we left Yangon, went to the airport, and checked in as a group just as we had done when leaving Bangkok for Mandalay.  The Thai Air flight was about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Everything went smoothly, and we checked in to the Bangkok Shangri-La Hotel about 2 p.m.

For those of us who took the two-day post-extension, a potentially serious problem was looming - the typhoon approaching Japan.   Most of us had to go to Narita Airport (Tokyo) for the flight back to the US.  It was our understanding that no flight arrivals or departures were occurring into or out of Narita. So for the next two days, we were on pins and needles, and Viking was being very coy and noncommittal about making any flight changes.

All lunches and dinners for the rest of the trip were on our own. There were several nice restaurants in the Shangri-La Hotel - Thai, Chinese, Italian, and, where I ate tonight, International.  I had french onion soup, which was very good, and barbeque pork ribs (smothered in a tangy oriental style barbeque sauce) and mashed potatoes, and I had a beer. 

Photos belong to Phil Bianco.

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