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Shwedagon Pagoda at night
After sunset, the lights blaze off all the gold, and if you stand in just the right place, you can see a shaft of light reflecting through the 72-carat diamond atop the pagoda. But look around at the people worshiping, too. One spot is where they pray for democracy. Young monks are ringing bells to celebrate passing their exams. Some are pouring water to wash away their sins. The flashing LED halos around Buddha statues can make it seem like a religious Disneyland, but stop taking photos and just sit quietly for a few minutes, meditate and soak it all in.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, said to house eight hairs of the Buddha, is a pilgrimage sight for many Buddhists. It's breathtaking at sunset, as the tower turns crimson and the monks begin their chants. A group of monks came over to practice their english, asking us where we were from and what we do. At the end of the conversation, one monk spread is arms and said, "I wanted to thank you for choosing to come to my country, and welcome to Myanmar." That would be the beginning of a series of welcoming gestures from the Burmese people.
The 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar's capital city enshrines strands of Buddha's hair and other holy relics. It has a height of nearly 110 meters, is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds. It is a wonder of the religious world.
Visitors are charged an entrance fee and women must be dressed appropriately (skirts to knees).