Good Morning Mandalay! Touring Gilded Pagodas & Visiting with an English Speaking Monk Whose Name means Knowledge & Bliss

"Being rich in pagodas and monasteries, Mandalay is considered the heart-land of Myanmar..."

Cecile and I awoke to this beautiful sunrise and the sound of peaceful chanting of the monks from our room at the Mandalay Hill Hotel. Our dear friend Maybelle picked us up at the airport and was the one who recommended the Mandalay Hotel. Upon our arrival she arranged with hotel management to get us a street side view to the hillside view room facing the hillside and the top of the famous Mandalay Hill.
Cecile and I recalled our visits to the local pagodas the night before like the Kuthodaw Pagoda seen here, known as the world’s biggest book as it comprises a spectacular golden pagoda that contains white alabaster shrines that house 729 inscribed marble slabs, each simulating the page of book of Buddhist teachings.
The “Pagoda” also called the “Royal merit pagoda,” was built by King Mindon Min shortly after the founding of Mandalay in 1857. It was meant as a legacy for
future generations. We were accompanied by our friend Maybelle and her lovely daughter Michelle, who I have had the privilege of knowing for 8 years during my many visits to Mandalay to study meditation. 
Maybelle introduced us to an English young monk in burgundy robes named Vidya Ananda. When he realized I knew that it meant “Knowledge and Bliss,” he beamed a smile. Ananda was actually the name of the Buddha’s first disciple. We spoke about his life as a Buddhist monk and his joy of meeting and getting to practice his English with visitors from abroad.