The Temple at the Top of the Hill (Shangri-La)

From a distance the temple on top of the hill looks like a vision of Shangri-La.

A View of Shangri-La Just Beyond the Pampas GrassesMr. Win herded us through the market and then we followed some village women up the many stairs that led up to the fantasy on the hill.
Going Up to the the Temple on the Hill (Shangri-la), Inle Lake, MyanmarUp close it looked older, and more run down…
The Temple on the Hill (Shangri-la), Inle Lake, MyanmarBut the detailed workmanship was still stunning.
The Temple on the Hill (Shangri-la), Inle Lake, Myanmar Several hill tribe women just up from the market waited for their men to arrive before their group headed off up a trail.The Temple on the Hill (Shangri-la), Inle Lake, MyanmarBy now it was approaching the hottest part of the day, the time when most Burmese seek shelter in the shade.Boys Resting in the Shade in the Temple up on the Hill Above Inle Lake This little boy monk was playing with an electronic game.
A Child Monk Playing an Electronic Game at the Village at the End of Inle Lake, MyanmarThese young monks were relaxing in the monastery, one of them clutching a toy gun.
Little Monks Playing with Gun in the Temple Other child monks ran about pretending to shoot each other with toy guns.

I was shocked at this sacrilegious behavior but when I voiced my surprise out loud, Mr. Win said simply, “but the children are happy…” 
Little Monks Playing with Gun in the TempleMore on our 2013 trip to Myanmar.

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11 responses to “The Temple at the Top of the Hill (Shangri-La)

  1. how do children this age become monks? Do families allow them to leave home or are they given to serve in a temple? Are these boys just homeless? A life so different from my own.

    • In such a profoundly Buddhist country as Myanmar, it is considered an honour to give one of your children to a monastery. On the plus side, they learn to read and write (not everyone has this opportunity) and they can opt out when they are older. Sometimes men opt in later in life, and just become a monk for a year or two.

  2. its quite a thought provoking photo, the one with the boy monk and the gun. Ive found that “playing with toy guns” is quite accepted in Asia, much and all as I find it deeply disturbing and always try to teach children in my classes that its not real good to play with guns, as real guns hurt people, real bad….. and the social conditions and reasons young boys become monks is as you say to do with poverty, belief systems and family. often these boys get some kind of measly income which is used to support their families also, and as you say, they get a chance to read and write. their life in the temple might be better than a poverty stricken one at home

      • indeed – and sadly true. btw the first photo of the temple at the top of the hill is really remarkable also. I’d probably enjoy it more if it was a bigger size also! why not show off your great shots? 🙂

    • At the time Myanmar was having trouble in the north with the Buddhists killing Muslims – tourists were not allowed in that area. However, the north-east of Thailand also had a lot of toy guns for sale – it’s funny how sensitized I’ve become to toy guns for sale – I guess we no longer see much like that for sale at home except in the gaming world.

      • I knew Myanmar was having problems. During the season I sometimes race with a guy who was a child soldier in Rwanda.

        I cannot … a child with a gun… it’s hard.

    • There were many stunning temples in Myanmar, particularly in Bagan and Yangon. This one is special though just because it was so unexpected with its shining white temples looming over a muddy village in the middle of nowhere.

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