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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

For some inexplicable reason I wasn't particularly interest in seeing Shwedagon Pagoda, but I was enormously impressed when we arrived there. It's a magnificent site built atop a hill overlooking the city of Yangon. Tourist have their own entrance, where a fee is collected and you take a lift to the top. It's a wonderfully, vital, living religious site and it was busy with worshipper on the afternoon  we visited. Young monks, people coming by on their way home from the market, pilgrims and tourists all gathering around the temples, altars and the large golden stupa.
The site was far larger than I imagined with a diverse range of architectural styles and forms. Again we saw altars for each of the days of the week where people make offering based on the day on which they were born. This is part of a planetary  system brought from India and similar to our Zodiac. Below is the altar for those born on Thursday. Devotees make offering , pour water over the statue of the Buddha and pray.
Shwedagon Pagoda is the most significant religious site in Burma and it contains several relics of the Buddha. There is a monastic school at the site and it's an important stage of all young men's lives to live as a novice. You see an enormous number of monks and nuns everywhere in Burma and Buddhism is key to the national identity.
We were here in the cool season but it was still hot, I cannot imaging the heat in the summer. It must be intolerable. 

For all of my Burma posts click here.

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