Myanmar is apparently the most devoutly Buddhist country in the world.
There are temples everywhere and it’s a country where anyone who’s anyone builds their own stupa, so wherever you go there are gilded spires rising up into the sky
Sometimes there’s a thousand of them all together
Or just a few –
When I arrived in Yangon, one of the first questions I was asked was what day of the week I was born on, as I needed to know which day shrine to pay homage at in the temples.
There are 8 days in the Buddhist week, as Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon count as two separate days. Each day is associated with a different exotic animal – tiger, elephant, lion, serpent, Garuda the mythical birdman – until you get to Friday … which is the day of the guinea pig.
So, in every temple I had to complete the ritual of pouring water first onto Buddha and then on my animal.
And after a while –
I began to notice that every guinea pig had a faintly depressed expression
I wasn’t sure whether this was due to the constant unflattering comparisons with the other more noble creatures in the temple, or simply the result of being drenched in cold water several hundred times a day. Either way, I began to feel rather sorry for the poor bedraggled things, and mutter a brief apology before dousing them with yet another cupful of water.
Oh well, at least a dejected guinea pig is less of a threat than a seriously pissed-off lion or tiger.