a silk weaving factory, a buddhist academy & sagaing hill

Monday, February 16:  After watching the monks eat their lunch at Maha Ganayon Monastery, my driver takes me to the Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory.  When I was at the monastery, I saw a couple of elegant girls wearing beautiful scarves, and being the scarf fanatic I am, I wondered if they got them here in Myanmar.  When I arrive at the Silk Weaving Factory, I see the girls are here as well, and I can’t help but ask them where they got their scarves.  They tell me they’re Russian but they got their scarves in Barcelona.  Of course!  Where else?  I love Barcelona and I got myself some amazing things while I was there, but the chance of me finding something similar here in Myanmar, I think, is slim.

I walk around the silk weaving factory, admiring the workers’ concentration and dedication to their craft.

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

I am always attracted to textiles in my travels, and usually when I buy anything, it is some kind of textile, whether a scarf, clothing or a bag.

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Spools of thread at the Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

Spools of thread at the Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory

After watching the weavers for a while, I wander into the shop, where I find the Russian girls trying on some gorgeous scarves.  Of course, these are the kinds of girls who can make anything look good, being tall, thin, young and elegant.  Luckily the scarves aren’t all silk; I often prefer the cotton ones to the silk.  Of course, the girls are very stylish, and though I only have a modicum of style, I do always try to be stylish in my way, in a bohemian casual sort of way.  Ha!  I’m certainly not into name brand styles like Gucci, etc, and I never have been. What I do love are ethnically patterned tops and scarves and even pants, as you’ll soon find out when I confess to my shopping sprees in Myanmar.

The girls tell me they bought their scarves in Barcelona for about 3-4 euros, not as much as the 7-8 dollars they’re asking in this shop.  I think they buy one or two scarves each, beautiful ones at that.  I myself can’t help myself and I buy three for $40.  I already have a huge scarf collection at home, but I can never turn down a new one. Scarves enable me to collect textiles — colors, patterns and textures — for a small sum.  And they spruce up any outfit. 🙂

We leave the silk factory and head to Sagaing Hill, 20 km southwest of Mandalay on the opposite bank of the Ayeyarwady River.  Two parallel bridges link Sagaing and Amarapura, the 1934 Ava Bridge, partially demolished in 1942 to stop advancing Japanese soldiers in WWII.  It was repaired in 1954.  The new Sagaing Bridge was built in 2005 (Lonely Planet Myanmar).  We drive over the new bridge.

Sagaing has an uncountable number of white and gold stupas dotting the green hills.  Though once the capital of an independent Shan kingdom, from 1315, its significance shifted from being political to spiritual.  Today, thousands of monks and nuns call Sagaing home and many Myanmar Buddhists come here to meditate and pray.

We make a stop on the far side of the river to take some pictures of the green hills with the stupas.  Wouldn’t you know it, the Russian girls are here as well.  I run into them throughout the rest of the day, and we laugh every time we see each other as we’re obviously on the same tour circuit.

View of Sagaing

View of Sagaing

Pagoda on the way to Sagaing

Pagoda on the way to Sagaing

another temple on the way to Sagaing

another temple on the way to Sagaing

Meemo first takes me to the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, set up in 1994 to educate the brightest young monks.

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

The centerpiece of the academy is “a Sanchi-style hemispherical stupa, gilded and embossed with dharma-wheel patterns (Lonely Planet Myanmar).”  It’s quite beautiful and well-maintained, as is the sprawling campus where the monks live and study.

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Prayer cushions at Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Prayer cushions at Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

courtyard at Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

courtyard at Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy

Our next stop is U Min Thone Sae Pagoda, also known as Umin Thounzeh.  It’s quite a long walk up a steep hill, with hundreds of steps flanked by souvenir shops all the way.  Near the top of the hill, as is typically the case all through Myanmar, I must leave my flip-flops and proceed barefooted.  Luckily, there are no monkeys leaving their droppings all over this pagoda.

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Umin Thounzeh is famous for its crescent-shaped building, housing 45 Buddha images seated in a curved column around the perimeter. Thirty entrances are designed to create the impression of caves, therefore the name Umin Thounzeh, which literally means 30 Caves.

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

After climbing all the way to the top, I start making my way back down the multitudes of steps.  I get almost to the bottom when one of the ladies points to my feet.  “Shoes!” she says.  I look down, and sure enough I’m still barefooted!  I left my flip-flops all the way at the top.  This is only the first of many flip-flop incidents I will have in Myanmar.  I turn around and climb all the way back up to the top, find my flip-flops and make my way down.  Back at the bottom I buy a necklace and a bracelet made of the seeds that fall from the surrounding trees.  The set costs me about $4.

Our next stop is Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya, also known as “early offering shrine,” is the most important temple on the southern end of Sagaing Hill.

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

View from U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

View from Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

View of Sagaing Hill from U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

View of Sagaing Hill from Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

View from U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

View from Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

U Min Thone Sae Pagoda

Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

Paintings for sale at Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda

Paintings for sale at Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

After leaving Sooon U Pon Nya Shin Pagoda, we head for a small riverside restaurant for lunch.  On the way, we pass by another random temple which I find quite pretty.

a random pretty temple on the way to Ava

a random pretty temple on the way to Ava

At the open-air local Myanmar restaurant, I order chicken with vegetables and rice.  It’s good but nothing special.  After lunch, I’m getting on a small boat to take a horse-drawn carriage through Ava, a four-time royal capital in Myanmar.

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Categories: Amarapura, Asia, Mandalay, Myanmar, Pon Nya Shin Paya, Sagaing, Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya, Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda, Thein Nyo Silk Weaving Factory, Travel, U Min Thone Sae Pagoda, Umin Thounzeh | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “a silk weaving factory, a buddhist academy & sagaing hill

  1. Lovely bright, cheerful happy colours! Enjoyed the tour. 🙂 – Suzan –

  2. A fascinating post Cathy with wonderful photos of the sights you saw, but the bet bit is the bit you must have written for me 🙂 🙂 🙂 the silk and the scarves! I’m sure I’ve said that I try to buy scarves wherever I go, often for pennies. In Barcelona i bought 4 – for ten euros, obviously not silk but I love them! I wonder if you’ve been to Bursa in Turkey, it’s on the ancient silk road?

  3. That textile factory was interesting and what they were weaving was so colorful! I loved seeing the pagoda & temples as well as that detail from the Buddhist temple. You really are posting some incredible pictures – so much to look at and I’m really enjoying it.

    Nancy

  4. I’m astounded at the immaculate condition all the temples are in. The colours are so vibrant and as for the textiles I love the colour combinations. Orange is my all time favourite colour, it is such a happy colour. There are so few people in your photos. Is that because Myanmar has not been discovered yet be the tourist group tours?

    • All the temples had plenty of Buddhist worshipers and temple minders keeping the temples clean, Pauline, so that was wonderful. You’ll find a couple of temples aren’t so clean because there are monkeys living there, and then you donate money to people who sit on the steps all day and clean the monkey poop, although they don’t do a very good job. I think it must be difficult to keep on top of all that poop!

      The colors of the textiles were wonderfully vibrant; I bought quite a few just because I can’t resist pretty textiles. As for the people in the pictures, I often crop them out if I can; sometimes I have no choice but to leave them in. It was definitely high season there, and plenty of tourists to go around. 🙂

  5. The glories of colour and texture, Cathy! Absolutely fantastic, the details. Where does the wealth come from for so many temples. Speaking of wealth, I’ve caught you out! You’ve been shopping- that’s why you can’t afford any more trips! (joke 🙂 ) Hugs, Cathy! I forgot them on the last post (in the laundry room) Much needed, I think.

    • I think Burma must have once been a very wealthy country, Jo. I have no idea how they afforded all those temples, but I think there must be tens of thousands of them there. All with gilded Buddhas inside.

      You know me and my shopping, Jo. I wonder if it will ever stop. Hugs back to you! 🙂

  6. I like the simplicity of the gold and white temples. Didn’t you ever get temple burn-out visiting all these? Especially after the China trip. All that colour!

    • I did sometimes get burned out by the temple visits, Jude. I did see a lot, especially as there must be tens of thousands in Myanmar. But still, I love them all. I’m always attracted to religious places: I love cathedrals, mosques and Buddhist temples and am always drawn to them. The gold and white temples are wonderful. Wait till you see some in my next post which I’m putting together now. 🙂

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