After flying from Yangon to Heho, I was picked up by my new guide at the airport for the drive to Kalaw. In town just before Kalaw we encountered a huge procession for the Tazaungdaing Festival. It is a procession in support of the local monastery. Different groups of people (ethnic, neighborhood, etc.) came together with their donations for the monastery and build large floats that carried their donations. It was everything you can thing of, pots and pans, blankets, food, detergent, money (put up on large money trees). This was a very impressive sight. This is done once per year, on the full moon in late October/early November, so I was lucky to see that.
In Kalaw, I spent the afternoon visiting various temples. The highlight was the Bamboo Temple and Monastery on a hill over Kalaw.
Trains seem to be very important in Myanmar. Several of my guides emphasized the train stations, and mentioned where the trains are going. Apparently they are a very important means of transportation.
In the evening we went to local concert, that was organized in connection with the celebrations around the procession. The music was not to my liking (loud rock/rap music), so I didn't stay long.
The next morning we drove to Inle Lake. On the way we got stuck in another procession, the traffic in the whole town almost came to a stand-still. It took us a while to find some side streets to get around it.
The procession took a long time to work its way down the road. I watched for almost an hour. The men in the procession were boisterous, quite a few seemed quite drunk. The women and children were dressed up and walked decorously.
Many of the groups had some bands that played drums and gongs of various sizes. All the bands were men-only. Occasionally, some of the groups would throw firecrackers around.
Most of the floats were carried by men, some were build on cars. The men who carried floats sometimes would get very boisterous, running, then circling around, rotating the float, etc.
It was quite a show. The procession continued the next day in a neighboring town, we got into that one the next day on our way to Inle Lake.
Women and girls in the procession were very disciplined, walking single file. (1062k) Boys in the procession, carrying bamboo poles with flags. (834k) The men were boisterous, some of them apparently drunk. (853k) Small float with a money tree. (829k) This float didn't have donations for the monastery on it. (930k) This float was loaded with household items. (944k) I don't know what the significance of this float was, it didn't seem to have donations. (894k) Large float with household goods on a small truck. (907k) This float was so tall that the bamboo poles tangled with the power lines overhead. (953k) Band in the procession with drums and gongs. (1021k) Drummer. (982k) Large gong, carried by two men. (737k) Small gong. (713k) Group of men in the procession, singing and dancing. (973k) This was the only monk I saw in the procession. (801k) Young women in the procession, all dressed up. (1000k) Women watching over their children in the procession. (1010k) Older women from the Pao tribe. (906k) Woman with child. (956k) Young women in festive dress in the procession. Many of them carried these boxes, I assume they are gifts. (727k) What a smile. (695k) Teenage boys carrying a float. (613k) Teenagers from the Pao tribe. (870k) Teenagers in the procession. (958k) Teenagers from the Pao tribe. (758k) Teenager from the Pao tribe. (702k) Teenager from the Pao tribe. (688k) Young boys in the procession. (970k) Young boys on one of the floats. (941k) Girls, all dressed up, in the procession. (1084k) Girls, all dressed up, with gifts in the procession. (797k) Girls, all dressed up, with gifts in the procession. (897k) Girl from the Pao tribe. (698k) Young girl all dressed up. (849k) Young girl all dressed up. (754k) Celebrating with firecrackers. (754k) Traffic jam caused by the festival. (737k) Moving the festival to another town. (855k)
Kalaw Train Station
Platform at the Kalaw train station. (1032k) Monks waiting for the train. (917k) Drying fish on a bench in the train station. It smelled. (754k) Arriving train. (980k) Vendors and passengers mobbing the train. (929k) Food vendor at the train. (764k)
Bamboo Pagoda and Monastery (Hnee Phaya)
Bamboo Pagoda. (797k) Statue outside the Bamboo Pagoda. (715k) Ceremonial bell at the Bamboo Pagoda. (753k) Small Buddha statue with the Bhumisparsha Mudra outside the Bamboo Pagoda. (1059k) Nuns serving tea and snacks to visitors of the Bamboo Pagoda. (789k) Display with donations from the Tazaungdaing Festival. (787k) Buddha statue in the Bamboo Pagoda. The statue is made of bamboo and gold plated. It is very light, one person can easily lift it. (994k) Closer view of the Bamboo Buddha. (1132k) Another Buddha statue in the Bamboo Pagoda, with the usual flashing lights behind it. (558k) Reclining Buddha in the Bamboo Pagoda. (736k) Close-up of the head of the reclining Buddha. (539k) View of the room with the Buddha's Footprint. Only men are allowed to approach it. (869k) Buddha's Footprint. (765k)
Buddhist Temple in Kalaw
Like in many other temples, this temple had 8 prayer stations for the days of the week on which you were born (Wednesday has two, morning and afternoon). The day of the week on which a person was born is very important for Myanmar astrology. Each day of the week is associated with an animal.
Monday: Tiger Tuesday: Lion Wednesday morning: Elephant with tusks Wednesday afternoon: Elephant without tusks Thursday: Rat Friday: Guinea pig Saturday: Dragon Sunday: Garuda (mythical bird)
People will worship at the station for their birthday.
Entrance to a temple in Kalaw. (927k) Temple in Kalaw. (805k) Statue outside a temple in Kalaw. (756k) Tiger (Monday). (823k) Lion (Tuesday). (850k) Elephant with tusks (Wednesday morning). (840k) Elephant without tusks (Wednesday afternoon). (972k) Rat (Thursday). (881k) Guinea Pig (Friday). (914k) Dragon (Saturday). (929k) Garuda (Sunday). (963k)