“The World is a book and those who do not travel it read only a page.”—St. Augustine
After visiting more monasteries containing bigger than life statues of the Buddha and other legendary deities, I crossed the historic U Bein Bridge with Maybelle’s daughter, Michelle MhuMadii who I have haven’t seen in eight years. She has grown into a respectful, pretty and delightful young lady.
The U Bein bridge was built over 150 year ago and is believed to be the largest teakwood bridge in the world. It stretches out to 1.2 kilometers across the Taungthaman Lake in the ancient capital of Amarapura on the outskirts of Mandalay. It is one of Myanmar’s favorite adventures for fun-loving tourists from around the world. U Bein Bridge was named after a mayor who had it built. It is supported by over 1000 teakwood poles is an Important part of everyday life in the community. It makes it possible for villagers to get their kids to school, fisherman to catch their fish and for locals to reach religious sites and food markets. Like many people present, we were there to experience the magnificent golden yellow sunset together. When we got to the end of the bridge, I hired out a boat so Michelle and I could obtain a better vantage point to see the sun gradually melt below the horizon. Afterwards our oarsman took us to shore with a colorful flotilla of boats where we met Maybelle for the drive back to the hotel.
What’s interesting about bridges is they symbolize hope. If you can just get over that bridge, you just may find yourself in a better place. Some bridges are harder to cross than others. If you are afraid of heights they can be scary. If feeling the bridge shakes beneath your feet—as it did mine—makes you unsettled, then crossing can pose a challenge. If a bridge is narrow and has no guard rails like U Bein, it can make you pause. On the other hand, the prospect of better things to come on the distant shore gives one hope. In this case the reward was the sunset for all those who were present. As actor, director and producer Woody Allen said: “The secret of success is showing up.”
Postscript: There are so many monastery dogs that sadly look malnourished. I took a photo of these two cute puppies that appeared to be from the same litter cuddling one another. There is also a photo of a group of young monks who appear to be making a getaway with a cart, but in fact they are really doing their chores—sweeping the monastery grounds—which is a meditation in and of itself.