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Image 1 - Yangon's Shwedagon Paya is incredibly and mysteriously moving. It is approached by four staircases leading from each of the principal points of the compass to a vast platform. Here, there are over sixty temples, pavilions and beautifully-decorated shrines housing Buddha images of marble, gold or brass or alabaster. In the centre there is the vast 98-metre golden pagoda topped by a banana bud, a jewelled vane and a diamond orb. At sunset the atmosphere is very special, and one which all Burmese Buddhists hope to experience at least once in their lifetimes.

This image shows just one of the numerous secondary architectural elements which surround the main pagoda. Visitors are, as elsewhere in the Buddhist world, made extremely welcome and allowed almost complete freedom to wander among the shrines and altars bedecked with offerings. However, the Shwedagon is so vast and complex that it cannot be brought home in a few images. It is not really about seeing the statues, bells and golden adornments - it is about feeling and experiencing, and just being there.


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