We drove to downtown Yangon so as to walk around its area and get a feeling of what daily life was about before heading to the Shwedagon Pagoda. We stopped right in front of the Yangon Court Building and the Maha Bandula Park, from where we could see the dome structure of the Sule Pagoda topped by a golden spire.
Clearly influenced by the South Indian influences this Pagoda is believed to enshrine a strand of hair of the Budda that he himself is said to have given to two Burmese merchant brothers, but the role it has played in anti-government and pro-democracy protesting is what people seem to vividly associate it with, once it was the first place to witness the brutal reaction by the Burmese government against protesters.
We walked around the Maha Bandula Park with its obelisk commemorating the Burmese independence from the British in 1948. In it we came across a young stern-looking Buddist monk asking for alms before we headed back onto the bus.
(To be continued)