Today has been an eventful day.
Woke up 3.30 am, wash, dress and gather in front of the gate. All the nuns are going to Soon Oo Pone Shin Pagod. At the top of Sagaing Hill. I went there yesterday and the place is magical. Today it is about celebrating full moon. Approximately 180 nuns. And I am allowed to walk with them, at the back of the procession next to one of the always kind and smiling nuns.
4 am the procession starts moving forward in a fast pace and it only takes us 30 to walk the 3 kilometres to the hill. Quite a fast pace considering the height difference being 200 metres is walked by climbing stars. Killer stairs.
The view is spectacular. Sagaing is more or less covered with different pagodas and they are all lit up. Sparkling like diamonds. The nuns are amazing. Constantly checking on me, am I ok, do I need to rest, am I happy, laughters, smiles, generosity, playfulness.
The nunnery I am staying at is an educational nunnery. First year nuns have to learn 1 000 pages by heart. Third year nuns have to learn 8 000 pages by heart. They are well educated and smart. Still very humble.
By 5 am everyone kneel in front of Buddha in the big hall. Abbot comes, sits in front of us all and she gives the signal to start prayer. One hour later we are done and the chanting stops. Quietly we rise and head to the exit. I think everyone is getting hungry. Usually by this time we have already had breakfast.
We see the first daylight and don’t need the flashlights when we descend from the hill. Now is when I realise how elderly people are treated in Myanmar. I have seen it but then didn’t consider myself old or in the need of help. But wether one needs help or not younger people make sure the elder get support. I find one nun on each side holding either my hand or my arm, making sure I stay safe while climbing down the stairs.
Today I am wearing my nice longyi. A yellow one and the first one I bought in Yangon. Good thing since today Vipula is taking me to visit two other nunneries. First one is Samaiddawdaya Chiang. As soon as I entered the premises I felt such harmony and tranquility. It was almost breathtaking. The nunnery consists of 24 buildings inhabited by 140 so nuns. I have the privilege to greet the retired Abbot now being 97 years old. It is easy to sense her greatness and good heart. One of the head teachers comes and I have the opportunity to talk to her about the nunnery. She is now 45 years old and have, apart from the 8 000 pages she knows by heart, several degrees. Her english is impeccable, she has studied in India and says she is still learning. What an admirable attitude. Still learning. That is something for every person to pursue.
Next nunnery is very similar. All good vibes, all nice people. In Sagaing there are approximately 8 000 nuns and 8 000 monks. Nuns collect alms twice a week whilst monks collect alms every day. That says a lot about how generous this community is. Also how well educated it is.
We continue to see nun Vipulas English teacher. It turns out he is an attending pupil. The English teacher is Dr Myat Thu. He is 53 and a former monk. And extremely well educated and well read. His English is perfect. No wonder, he used to live in Texas, USA, for many years and has multiple degrees. He greets me and welcomes the opportunity of class speaking English.
One hour passes quickly. Students are curious and eager to know and learn. So we talk, I tell about me, they introduce themselves, I answer their questions. We talk about everything. About my love for Myanmar, about Sweden, house constructions, food, IKEA, traffic here, problem with no recycling, how good it is for your health to walk and tons of other things. I would gladly have spent more time with Dr Myat Thu to listen to his thoughts on different matters. And with his pupils of course. But now it is time lo leave.
It is lunch time and today’s donors are visiting. They are staying for lunch and their tables are set with beautiful tablecloths. I sneak in to the dining room and sneak out when I’m done.
This has been a magical day. The only reason for that is because of all the people I have been surrounded by and met. Meetings, Conversations. Thank you all!
It has been a magical day.