The Beautiful Spirit of Myanmar – The New York Times


Richard Christiansen, founder of Chandelier Creative, and Vanessa Holden, former senior vice president of West Elm, documented their three-week trip around the world to find creative inspiration for T.

“See things as they are,” advised Ven Indacara, a student monk in Yangon, as we sat together last week with our legs tucked under us, walking the cool, shady, tiled sidewalks that weave through the Among the hundreds of shrines under the glow, the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda. For the past two weeks on the road, we’ve been trying to do just that: Accept things, appreciate them for what they are, and remember to take them with you in the future. Myanmar proved to be the perfect place to do this – especially after a short stay in Hong Kong. If Hong Kong is the party, Myanmar is the chamber of serene meditation.

In Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and on the plains of Bagan, the ancient city about an hour’s drive away, we were drawn to gilded and gilded stupas, or Buddhist shrines. The juxtaposition of old and new is jarring—temples are often renovated, and they stand out against the faded painted stucco that enshrines countless Buddha statues nearby—and one is very comforted by the perception that the two must coexist. Even the calming sound of the bell-clad wishing tree transmits karma throughout the city.

There is no shortage of jaw-dropping grandeur in Myanmar, but we found that getting up close and personal was the greatest joy. Strolling the streets of downtown Yangon one morning, we were drawn to the bustling street stalls and sprawling markets, as well as the chaotic beauty of faded post-colonial buildings strewn with satellite dishes next to apartment blocks. The best place for people-watching is the Yangon Circular Railway, a circular train linking central Yangon with inner city suburbs, small towns and semi-rural areas. Amid a sea of ​​pineapple, banana and tamarind vendors, men and women, monks in maroon and nuns in pink and saffron, carry boxes, baskets, parcels and bags to the market. It takes about three hours to complete the cycle.

Motorbike along dusty red roads through Bagan to Shwesandaw Paya – a thousand-year-old wonder of five terraced fields nicknamed the “Sunset Buddha” for its sweeping views of the plains as the sun sets. Pagoda”—we drove down a narrow dirt road to a small temple. Seated in the front was a Buddhist monk, smoking a cigarette and drinking wine (tea, we suspect), watching the sunset. “Isn’t this a fairyland?” He said with a smile. He asked what we were doing in Bagan and where we were from. “We’re from Australia, but we live in New York. We travel the world for inspiration,” we say. He paused, pointed at the sunset, and took another drag on his cigarette. “It’s there, every day.”


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