visiting temples in myanmar
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Nov 18, 2012 5:18 AM Last Post By: midlifetravel
Nov 15, 2012 10:19 AM
visiting temples in myanmarhello again.
i have peripheral neuropathy in my feet. what this means, among other things, is that it is very painful to walk barefoot on hard surfaces. i know that everyone is expected to remove shoes when visiting any buddhist pagoda. however would it be possible to keep wearing padded socks? or are no socks allowed either? how about new unworn flip flops? as a last resort, are wheelchairs available at major pagodas like the the shwedagon? thanks gh
btw--are the pagoda rules any different from country to country? e.g. do the same rules apply in vietnam or laos as in myanmar??
Nov 15, 2012 10:51 AM
1Not an expert, but I don't think anyone will seriously object to socks. Flip-flops are shoes in South-east Asia: you don't wear them indoors, not in a pagoda, not in a house.
I would carry the socks separately and change from sandals to socks at the entrance to each temple and then back when you leave.
I would also have someone translate an explanation of your problem into Burmese and write it on a little card, because otherwise you are at least one awkward encounter with a kindly and wizen old monk who speaks no English and will politely but insistently gesture for you to take your socks off.
It would also help if you look sickly and maybe limp a little...
Nov 15, 2012 11:25 AM
2No, socks are generally not allowed. Especially not at Shwedagon Pagoda.
Nov 15, 2012 12:00 PM
Nov 15, 2012 2:55 PM
4Barefo0t is the only thing acceptable - socks are not allowed and I've seen signs specifying that in English and pictures. That said I saw one elderly local being wheeled in a wheelchair in Shewdagon - I suspect she came in it.. that's the only wheelchair I've seen in 2.5 weeks in Burma though. Shewdagon has a lift so a wheelchair would be technically possible - everywhere else has steps so you'd never get to the pagoda with out climbing those anyways
Nov 15, 2012 7:10 PM
5I was asked to remove socks also in Burma - only barefoot was acceptable.
Nov 15, 2012 7:33 PM
Nov 15, 2012 8:36 PM
7Please note that they require you to be barefoot not only inside temples but everywhere around temples, on monastery grounds and other holy places.
I visited Saddan Cave close to Hpa-an which is considered (I guess) holy as it has temples and a monastery around it, and they required people to walk barefoot in this cave (which is quite long and not easy to walk), where the floor was just wet slippery mud.
Travel Photo Report
Nov 15, 2012 9:21 PM
8Please note that they require you to be barefoot not only inside temples but everywhere around temples, on monastery grounds and other holy places.
Really? That's a bit harsh, in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam that isn't the case, you only take your shoes off going into the inner part of the buildings. In Cambodia some of the monks even smoke cigarettes inside the pagoda during ceremonies.
Nov 15, 2012 9:53 PM
Nov 16, 2012 1:43 AM
10There are signs specfically stating no socks. I also have terrible foot and hip problems but was able to stick it out for a few hours each day. I think you have to just bite the bullet and go barefoot, or decide you will admire the pagodas and other holy places like Mount Popa from afar. There's still a lot to see.
Part of the whole experience of visiting holy sights is to respect the religion, so if you cannot comply it "might" run counter to the whole purpose of visitng the site.
Nov 16, 2012 2:00 AM
Nov 16, 2012 4:59 AM
12Well, I have seen signs about socks, and we were told about socks as well as my girlfriend wanted to keep them on.
Many holy places are quite dirty, and you have to be barefoot during or after rain, which adds to the experience.
We stayed in the monastery on the Mt Zwegabin, the area of the monastery was quite dirty with dust and similar natural substances, as well as cigarette butts, occasional plastic bags or packaging and red betel spit stains. The latter was noticed on grounds in many other holy places. The slopes around the monastery were covered (literally) in plastic bags, packaging, bottles and cans.
I already mentioned that people had to walk in wet slippery mud in Saddan Cave close to Hpa-An. Today we had to walk on wet and dirty ground around Swezigon Paya in Bagan
I don't know how religious locals are but I am not sure where else I have seen such treatment of holy places. After Turkey and Iran (we were recently) it is actually pretty shocking as mosques there are spotless.
Travel Photo Report
Nov 16, 2012 7:04 AM
13If I remember rightly, we had a guide on Mandalay ancient cities, not my choice I went some others doing the blue taxi trip, anyway Im sure he said that it was OK for socks at the temple we went to. Worst place for bare feet was in India at the temples where there are loads of holy rats near Bikaner, great walking in all the rat droppings. Problem in Myanmar is the heat, can get rather hot the stones in afternoon.
Yes monks are often chewing the betel. I remeber the boat from Mrauk U had betel spit all over the floor, where a bag had leaked, thought someone had been killed.
Nov 16, 2012 8:49 AM
14The latter was noticed on grounds in many other holy places. The slopes around the monastery were covered (literally) in plastic bags, packaging, bottles and cans.
Yeah, that always surprises me too. The pagoda grounds in Cambodia are usually filthy, you'd imagine these places being pristine but that's far from being the case.
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