ADM=Ay Dios Mío=OMG=Wow!!!

This sign was in the middle of Yangon's market. 🙂

I have not been able to connect to the Internet recently.  I have missed talking to you all.  There is so much that I want to share but in the little down time that I have, even when I try to fight nodding off I can’t, and succumb to slumber.  Then I awake missing you all over again.  I do not want to forget any second of this experience.  I feel that in having you as my virtual companions, I have the responsibility to try to transmit thoughts, experiences, places and people I encounter.  As an after effect to that, you aid me to remember it all through words and photos.  I do not want this, however, to turn into a laundry list of where I went.  And in the haste to get it all down I may err on that side.  I will try to avoid it by all means and what is left will be inked as captions to on-line albums when I return.

I wake early.  They are picking us up at 8:30 a.m.   I am up at 3:30 a.m.  This internal clock thing is playing with me.  My adrenaline one-ups it and so far I haven’t gotten cranky and have managed to stay awake while going about town.  At 6:00 a.m. I go down to breakfast where other internal-clock-misfits in my group are already.  This group has turned out to be wonderful and having Thiha to give us insights has been fabulous.  It’s nice to know that everything is taken care of for us and, on a personal level, it is comforting to have others to say good-morning to and share a cup of coffee with.  Turns out that in good Myanmar tradition I am also sharing a bowl of Mohn Hin Gar, a fish soup with noodles, peanuts, red pepper, lime and who knows what else.  In some parts they would call it a “levanta muertos” which loosely translated is “raising of the dead”.  If this doesn’t give me enough energy for the rest of the day, I don’t know what will.

Before we head off to the Market, Downtown and Chinatown, our guide gives us an explanation and demonstration of Thanakha.  Thanakha is a paste created by putting some water on a flat, circular grinding stone and rubbing the bark of a thanakha tree on it. This is placed on the face.  It is cool (temperature-wise) on the skin and said to tighten pores and prevent wrinkles.  May be plastering it all over my body!  It is used widely by both women and men.  I thought of it as a foundation but it is used in circles or just a swatch on the face.  The paste is either yellow or white, so it is quite noticeable.  What is perceived as beauty varies dramatically between cultures.  Some of our group is adorned with it and out we go.

Monks in Market

This city is chockfull of sounds, smells, smiles, temples and pagodas.  I thought I was on sensory overload until we reached the market and then I went into sensory overboard.  As we zigzag the alleyways we see people smiling at the people in our group with thanakha on their faces.  Beautiful, they say.  Biggest guavas I’ve ever seen (didn’t taste).

Durian Fruit (Seasonal)

Huge Guavas!

Durian fruit, also called stinky fruit (not as smelly as I thought or that sweet, a bit pasty but not bad.)  Dragon fruit (inside it looks like a kiwi but whiter meat and not as sweet) Chicken feet, raw meat, sausages, fish paste, innards.  Vegetables I’ve never seen.  Food I would not try.

Then we go to Chinatown where an older gentleman approaches the group and starts asking where we are from, what we do and offers to tell us that his son lives in the States, tells us how happy he is we are visiting, points out some places and leaves as quickly as he came.   We go visit a Chinese temple.


From there we visit Kalywa Tawya Monastery.  At the monastery there are more than 1,000 novices and nuns studying the purity of Buddhist scripture as well as receiving a regular education.

"I am joyous here. I forget to go back to my village."

In Myanmar very young children can be sent to study Buddhism to become monks.  In fact, girls go to the nunnery as well.  Even a foreigner (male or female) can come in on a religious visa and go into the monastery for as long as they desire.  I think my heart is smaller now.  The girls at the nunnery kept a piece of it.  I can’t describe what they elicited in me.  Just hope that the photos illustrate it slightly.

After the calmness and discipline we witness at the Monastery we head for lunch at a local restaurant where controlled chaos is what we encounter.  It’s a “point and will bring to the table” kind of place.

To wind down a little we go to Rangoon’s waterfront and walk on the jetty (the equivalent of a boardwalk, I guess.)

And then for another mind-boggling, amazing pagoda that stores relics of the past four Buddhas:  Shwedagon Pagoda.   The complex itself is massive.  Many temples around the Pagoda.  Pagodas are domes that you cannot go into.  Temples usually have Buddha in them and are places of meditation, prayer, where you ring a bell or a metal triangle signifying you have done a good deed.  People come from all over.  You see monks and families intermingling.  Some meditating.  Some praying.  Some eating. Some changing kids diapers.

Volunteer Sweepers


This particular pagoda has on the tippy top a 76-carat diamond.  Around it something they call an umbrella –iron hoops around the dome- from which jewelry of all sorts hangs, donations made by its people.  Everything around me seems to blind me.

 And finally, before something in my brain explodes from just way too much to assimilate, we end the day at a restaurant where they recreate the olden days and offer us a show.

ADM=Ay Dios Mío=OMG=Wow!!!

It has finally hit me.  I AM in Southeast Asia!

Categories: Kalywa Tawya Monastery, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Shwedagon Pagoda, Thanakha, Yangon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

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31 thoughts on “ADM=Ay Dios Mío=OMG=Wow!!!

  1. Richard Yniguez

    Hey Kid!

    Don’t forget to bring some of that tree bark, Thenakha? So mush info and the colors are so vibrant I can almost smell what you do from here! Great photos my dear….keep it coming. I’m wearing my Longy!!!! Don’t know where my post went from your last blog….this is terrific! Miss you…

    Big hug, Anag

    • Yes! I already have it packed. Don’t know how I’ll fit so many memories -or souvenirs- in my luggage!
      My wish is that I am transmitting a bit of my experience to you all. Sharing it is fun but knowing that it brings some joy to those who read it, is even much more so!
      Will bring you back a longy. 🙂 Miss you too.

  2. This is fantastic. All of the colors and the architecture are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    Looking forward to the next post. xoxo

    • 🙂 I have to see your photos when I return!
      Internet is getting spottier but am going to post tonight for sure… if I don’t pass out from exhaustion!

  3. Mariko Ballentine

    what beautiful faces! love the monk :O)

    • The faces is what I am in love with! Knew we were two of a kind Mariko… the monk is my favorite!!!
      These are graceful and accepting people. They usually nod and smile if you ask to take a photo. He was praying and I didn’t want to bother him. When I returned to his spot I was just horrified to see that a tourist had a huge macro lens barely inches from his face. I just stood there. When the guy left I was still there. He looked at me and nodded slightly. I took my photo. He smiled and that is one photo that I couldn’t get myself to take. I felt honored for some strange reason.

  4. Vivian Carolina

    Que linda experiencia Lidia! Cuidate mucho y segui diafrutando de esta oportunidad tan linda que Dios te dio! Que fotos hermosas, gracias por compartir tu viaje con nosotros!

    • Gracias por viajar conmigo Vivian!
      Realmente estoy inmensamente agradecida de estar viviendo todo esto!
      Un besote para tí y la familia.

  5. Great pictures and you joy shines through it all.

    • I hope that I transmit and pass some of that joy to the those who read my posts Fanny!
      I am just blown away by Myanmar. However, I think that you will find a different country when you return. But those that come in a year’s time will really see a huge change. Am ambivalent as to whether it will be good or bad.

  6. Peter

    All I can say is WOW. I am not as verbal as you
    Lid. Presently I was called for jury duty/ Federal
    and trying to get out of it! Told them I HATE
    lawyers. It may work.
    Anyway enjoy all of your incredible sights and be careful what you eat !

    • Thanks Peter!!!
      Well, the other travelers here are also are getting to know me as the most talkative of the group. 🙂 They say that if I become speechless and/or quiet is when they know that it is something spectacular that I have encountered.
      Good luck on the jury thing. Will miss you if they take you. Hopefully you’ll get out of it.
      I am eating everything! And so far -knock on wood- I’ve been doing okay! Luv right back at ya.

  7. What a treat to see all of this through the eyes of an appreciative traveller. Thank you, Lidi for staying awake and posting! Are you seeing lots of yummy veggie dishes?

    • Yes souldipper, I am traveling with 2 complete vegetarians who also are sharing their dishes with me. This is a country that cooks lots of veggies and I am becoming a fan of many of them!
      Thank you for coming along. It makes it special.

  8. Miguel Najera

    Nice photos, very colorful. Beautiful looking people. You have encouraged me to make traveling plans.

    • So glad that it may impulse you to do it Miguel!
      This already has been such an enlightening trip!!! I am so grateful to have had this opportunity along with being able to share it with you.

  9. Nancy De Los Santos

    OMG is right! I love love love reading your posts in the middle of my day while I sit surrounded by the same familiar concrete buildings… Not that I don’t love LA – I do.. but I love even more reading of your adventures! Thank you for sharing…
    The little girl monks.. oh my!

    You will return to us a different person, my darling! Different in that you heart will be bigger!

    • Ah my friend I am so warmed by your comment! I feel so fortunate to be experiencing Myanmar right now and even more blessed to have you and my other travel companions to share it with.
      The little girl monks were inspiring. When they sat waiting for all to be seated to then start praying, they were disciplined but not automatized. They watched us watching them and yet were still focused in their devotion but not to Buddha so much but to buddhism and its teaching. I posted the one of the praying one not because it is a good photo, but because of her complete isolation in a sea of people. All that was with her was her faith and her plea to understand, and follow. And the smiling one was as interested in us as we were of her. Through translation when asked if she was happy here she said: “I am very happy here. I sometimes forget to go to my village because staying here is so good. I am filled inside with smile.”

  10. those guavas look so inviting..I’ve always liked and preferred the raw/unripe crunchy ones (and those in the pic look exactly the same) over the ripe ones..

    beautiful portraits of the monks !

    • Don’t they. I so regret not having tried them! Never saw them so big. The monk photos are definitely my faves. Thanks for coming along!

  11. Mary Mora Cordova

    I am just loving our travels through your words and pictures. So relieved to hear you are in such good hands and around such beautiful people/culture. I love their peaceful looks, you can almost see into their peaceful souls. Love You! Be well and continued safe travels my friend!

    • My dear Mary, thought I replied to this and realized it didn’t go through.
      Loving that you are enjoying it. 🙂 Myanmar people are amazing in many ways. Off to Laos today Monday (your Sunday). Hardly any Internet connection. But will be writing and will post as soon as I can. Love you too!

  12. You’re going to miss the Oscars! Hope you are having a good time…been waiting for the next post. Everything OK?

    Big hug,


  13. I knoooow! 😦 Bummer. You will have to tell me all about it. You are so good at retelling that I know I will enjoy it just as if I had watched it. 🙂
    Am Internet impaired… a lot. Spotty reception and will get worse when in Laos where I am heading out today Monday which for you is Sunday.
    I’m okay. Can’t get this silly, dumb, ecstatic grin from my face. Thank you so much for caring.
    Big hug y besito for you Añag,

  14. Ooooh, I have soooo much love for Myanmar. God, what a special, amazing place – for many reasons but most of all the people! Love your nun and monk photos. If/when you have time I’d love to hear your impressions of the atmosphere. I’ve been following the news so closely; things have progressed in the country’s opening so much since I was there just a year ago, and I wonder if you noticed this at all? Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  15. Liz Fierro

    I’m so glad you are safe and enjoying yourself. You are such a beautiful writer I feel like I’m right next to you enjoying every moment. We miss and Love you! I can’t wait for your next entry!

    God Bless you!

    Your Mija,


    • Mija, Don’t know how you do it but you have the ability to always make me teary-eyed!
      Can’t tell you how much I miss you and the boys too!!
      When I get back I want to take you to tea and have some girl time.
      Love you!

  16. Reblogged this on Slightly Removed and commented:
    There’s a quote I came across a while back from Paul Fussell, “ . . . the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes, but tries new places all the time.” Indeed, the initial sense of bewilderment is one of the most fantastic things one can experience. Although, as it goes for some of us, that feeling eventually fades and we are necessitated to seek out someplace new. Thankfully, there are so many options.

    This post is one of those tales. Lidia expresses her amazement in stepping off the plane into the recently accessible Myanmar with a staccato beat of description. Every new visual or cultural experience she has is laid out in that tone of the pure ecstasy of new discoveries.

    I first read Lidia the Explorer’s blog in the first couple months of this year. She was researching destinations in the planning stages of a multi-country trip through Southeast Asia, which to date, puts my own forays to shame. After returning home for a few months, she is once again on the road and documenting her journey thought the Land Down Under.

  17. Pingback: Weekly Reblog #5: ADM=Ay Dios Mío=OMG=Wow!!! | Paths Unwritten

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