Friday, 10 March 2017

Crossing Shan Highlands to Pindays

A 7.30 start today as we had a long ride ahead of us over the Shan Highlands to Pindaya.  Out of town, pasr the sugar cane fields and processing plants, both small

and large.  The bulk of the ride was one hard grind up, up and up a switchback road, getting higher and higher.  It was in Alex's words, a gradual in line with some steep bits towards the end. Huh!

Fortunately there was a treat at the rest and food stop. Mulberry paper and umbrella making, so we spent a facinating half hour watching how they are made.  The mulberry is beaten to a pulp with two large hammers before mixing into a gruel with water.  It's then spread out onto a calico screen I. A water bath.

Then, using fresh petals, a decoration is added before the screen is slowly lifted from the bath.  It's allowed to drain for a moment before being propped in the sun to dry.

The dried paper is then peeled away from the frame and stacked in the shop ready to sell.

The other craft being demonstrated was bamboo sun shades.  All made by hand from bamboo with the mulberry paper.  It was facinating to see how the primitive, but effective, tools were used.

The spokes, the latch, everything so simple but it works.  The paper shades are then handpainted to
complete the umbarella. 

The next part of the ride, across the Highlands should have been stunning....and it was, but I spent most of my energy trying to stay upright in the very strong cross wind.  So energy sapping and one of the most difficult rides I've ever done.

But eventually we roll not our hotel.  We all felt a huge sense of relief!  Thanks to John and Chris for cycling back to chum me ( always the tail end Charlie ) down the last extremely steep hill.

The hotel is delightful, if in need of a bit of a spruce up.  But it had a pool, so a couple of hours on a lounger and a few stretching lengths soon put the hills and the wind down to experience, ready for the next adventure which was.....up there!  See the golden building high up above the hotel ? That s were we went before dinner, but no problem, there's a lift, isn't there Alex??

Well yes, there is a lift, but.....It's not working today.  So off we set up and up and up the huge flight of stairs.

This will give you some idea of the many steps we had to climb, 

Still there was a welcoming committee of sorts.  Pity it was asleep on the job. So we crept pass quietly, removed our shoes and went undetected into the Pindaya cave.

There we were met by more than 8000 Buddha images, large and small, standing and sitting.  It was quite breathe taking, if a little creepy.

 The Buddhas were placed there by pilgrims and no one knows which was the first or how many hundreds of years ago.  They continue to be placed in the cavern to this day.

They come in all shapes and sizes, with guardian snakes or serpents, sitting on the ground or in a lotus flower. 

There are many hand positions depicted which all relate to the legend of Buddha.

Most shimmer brightly as they are covered in gold leaf, but the two. Bottom left remain black and are known S the perspiring Buddhas.  It's all to do with the airflow and that means the gold leaf doesn't take, so black they remain.

Some are perched up as high as can be in this cavenouse cave.

Others sit in rows.

But all of them have a serene face.

The cavern itself is as facinating as the Buddhas, with stalagmites and stalactites and even columns.

This is the final chamber, so you can see how huge the complex is.

And the smallest Buddha statue? Look up high on the right hand side as you enter and you'll see them - the bee hive Buddhas.

Buddha statues often are adorned with fairy lights, and even flashing neon ones,

but a huge spider straight from Universal studios?.??

This was part of the way down from a scene of the stages to enlightenment.  Yes, that is a vultur. Pecking the eyes out.  Euck!

Tonight I definately earned my G&T !!

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