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The Mystical Monks of Myanmar

Monks of Myanmar

Edna and Steve Kornberg traveled with Journeys Within for a month-long tour through Myanmar, taking in many different destinations in this remarkable region. In this blog post, we’ll share some of Edna’s beautiful photos from their time spent among the monks of Myanmar.

One of the reasons I was so excited to be going to Myanmar is because of the monks and knowing that I would see so many in different environments – not just in monasteries but participating in daily life as well. I first fell in love with them and their practices of peace and humility when we experienced them in Laos (Luang Prabang) and in Cambodia (Siem Reap) on our last Southeast Asia adventure that Journeys Within so expertly prepared for us. To me the monks are like metal and I am a magnet, so drawn to observing them.
The first group of photos was in a monastery in Mandalay where daily at 10 a.m., 1000 monks of all ages walk in two lines with their bowls to have their last meal of the day. As you can see it is very orderly.
Education is very important and parents look for the opportunity to be able to send their male children to a monastery for this learning experience. Some remain for their whole lives, embracing the teachings that they have experienced, and some go back to their villages and continue to impart their learnings and use it in their everyday lives. Can you imagine how excited these parents must be when they find out that their children were selected to get this experience! There are schools in each village but the learning here is much more intense and regimented.

– Words and photos by Edna Kornberg

Click here to view the slideshow if you don’t see it embedded below.

Thien Vien Truc Lam Bach Ma Pagoda

By Courtney Ridgel

Booking Coordinator Courtney Ridgel visited Central Vietnam last May and relflects back on visiting the Thien Vien Truc Lam Bach Ma Pagoda:  

One of the gilded rooftops of the Pagoda
The Pagoda is tucked into the White Horse Mountains 

During college I studied Zen Buddhism through some of my coursework so I was thrilled to have the chance to visit the Thien Vien Truc Lam Bach Ma Pagoda.  Zen Buddhism first came to Vietnam centuries ago, and was replaced by other forms of Buddhism in the 15th and 16th century.  This branch of Buddhism is now making a come-back and the Truc Lam Bach Ma Pagoda was built in 2006.

Pagoda 1
To reach the pagoda, you must first journey across the lake

Located in Central Vietnam, this hidden gem lies nestled into the White Horse (“Bach Ma”) Mountains, so named for the clouds resembling herds of horses.   Like something out of a legend, the temple sits on an island rising from the center of a man-made lake tucked into a valley.

Pagoda 4
Climbing a great number of stairs is believed to help clear the mind

One of the locals took us to the island in his small motorized boat where a group of nuns sat laughing and sharing stories.  The journey across the water and trek up the long steps to the entrance is meant to clear your mind and wash away guilt.  I found myself breathless, both from the views and from the deceptively long stairs.

Pagoda 7
Different halls house bells, drums, statues and other religious items
Pagoda 11
Behind the main pagoda, dedicated to the Buddha, is a second pagoda, dedicated to the founded of Chan or Zen Buddhism, the monk Bodhidharma

Passing through the impressive gate at the top of the island, we passed into the peaceful garden-like setting with various halls and traditional pagodas, complete with temple bells and carved dragons.   Inside, the halls are adorned with murals depicting the life of Buddha and the history of Zen Buddhism.

Pagoda 8
Dragons guard these sacred steps
Pagoda 9
Looking out at the main gate

Taking it all in, I just kept thinking, “I am so grateful to be here.”   This pagoda will definitely remain a magical place in my memory.