Just as we entered Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and removed our shoes, we were assailed by a violent noise like a jackhammer. But louder. It seemed so… irreverent. Not at all right for a pagoda containing a huge image of the Buddha.
“What’s that noise?” I asked our guide Zaw, who knows everything.
He looked at me with a funny, squinty look for just a moment, a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look. But he saw that I really didn’t know, and so he answered simply, “Rain.”
And indeed it was rain. The most heavens-let-loose downpour of our entire visit to Southeast Asia (and this was the monsoon season) had begun just as we entered the one pagoda on our tour with a metal roof. We had to shout to be heard. It was truly spectacular.
So is the Buddha, of course. Maybe it isn’t the largest reclining Buddha in Southeast Asia, but at over two hundred feet long, it’s large enough to be quite impressive. And certainly it isn’t the oldest Buddha image in Southeast Asia, having been completed originally in 1907 and extensively (entirely???) reconstructed in 1973. But the Buddha’s face is sweet and serene.
And he has the neatest footprints ever. (They indicate all of the [insert large number here--150???] previous lives of Buddha before he was Buddha, only ten of which were as humans. The rest were animals–no dogs or cats, though.)
We weren’t the only ones hanging out in the temple while it rained.
But not to worry: the rain stopped just before we left.