Monday, 22 February 2010
The Trek Continued: From Htitain Monastery to Indein
At six in the morning we awoke. We had bedded down in the vast, dark prayer hall of the monastery, just a few feet away from the magnificent images of the Buddha. Last night in the gloom all the pillars appeared black, but now with some electric and candle lighting it became obvious that they were decorated with gold-leaf. The novices knelt in a line before the statues, having lit candles and incense before their ritual commenced. Sometimes prostrating themselves in prayer, sometimes upright, these tiny boys launched themselves into song. Very loud for such a small number, their throaty, hypnotic chanting was magical. Sometimes the unison line would split into simple two-part harmony, with either a descant in thirds above or a lower part also shadowing the melody. On and on it went!
It was difficult to draw ourselves away from this experience, but onwards we had to move. The day held magnificent things in store: vistas of the mountains with monasteries perched high above, and the expectation of our first view of the lake. Heaven come down to earth! Our boat ride took us all the way from Indein up to Nyaungshwe, past a strange white forest of stupas, onto the lake with its Intha fishermen rowing with their leg as they balanced on the other waiting to spear a fish, and up to the village where we intend to stay for about six days.