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YANGON

The former capital with a population of some seven million people is a city of style and dilapidated grandeur. The broad leafy boulevards complement the colonial architecture, some of the best in Asia. A conservation body has now been formed and slowly the buildings, some in very bad repair, are being renovated. The Shwedagon Pagoda shimmers over the city, from near and far it floats into view, pure beauty. Yangon is predominately a low rise city – a few high rises punctuate the sky line, the other end of town from the Shwedagon. Downtown Yangon bustles – if bustle is the word –gently. One rarely sees anyone pick up their longyi and run for the bus: there is always another one not far behind. Little markets, food stalls, tables overflowing with second hand books populate the narrow side streets. For today’s visitors there are comfortable hotels, good restaurants plenty of taxis and interesting sites to visit. Or just slip into the slower pace of Yangon, wander around the Kandawgyi Park, enjoy the abundant flowers and majestic trees, sit and look across the lake at the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda
The true enchantment of Myanmar is experienced with the first glimpse of the hauntingly beautiful Shwedagon Pagoda. Its golden spire towers over the city like a glittering flame, inviting all who look to make a pilgrimage up the long stairway to its marble terraces. Sitting on Singuttra Hill with a history of some 2,600 years this "beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun" captivated Rudyard Kipling and all who visit. Said to hold relics of past four Buddhas, it is a center of Buddhism. The Pagoda’s history has been tumultuous, it has suffered wars, neglect, earthquakes but today is in excellent repair. The golden stupa that rises above the visitors is gilded using some 28,000 packets of gold plates , with the crowning umbrella (hti) studded with precious stones emitting a gentle jingle as the move in the breeze. The 14 acre terraces and pavilions around the stupa, are always busy. Ladies, a bundle of flowers in their arms prepare to make offerings at one of the planetary posts. Pilgrims sit lost in prayer, groups of school children chattering, foreign visitors looking on in awe.

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CURRENCY EXCHANGE

Central bank of Myanmar | 2019-10-10

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