A couple years ago Ian hired a driver which is absolutely essential here as everything is spread out and almost nothing in the hotel zone is walkable. Kyaw had a car and a deal was struck. Now he is our driver whenever we come to Naypyitaw. Seems Kyaw is quite entrepreneurial and now has 8 cars, books airline flights and provides tours under his company Kyaw Mega. He has a great personality and whatever we need to get done he seems to find a way. Service with a smile.
When we arrived 2 weeks ago Kyaw told us that he was going to become a Monk, but then explained that after he became a Monk he would spend only 1 week in the monastery before returning to work. We were visibly relieved to hear that last part of the story. Earlier this week we each received a formal invitation to the ceremony on Sunday morning which happened to be Easter Sunday this year. Since he has a fleet of cars now and a team of drivers transportation was included in the invitation.
A driver appeared at 7:45am and we zipped across Naypyitaw until we entered a nearby township where we got to see the real life scenario with houses, shops, people and the stuff daily life is made of (not the Hilton experience). Seems not only was Kyaw in the ceremony but also his father, son and brother-in-law. A family affair. We wore our longi's, sandels and Myanma shirts to "blend in". The men were dressed as we were but the women wore colorful dresses with makeup & lipstick that we had not seen before.
Upon arrival we were ushered into a building with 25-30 low tables with a spread of local food in vast quantities. The guests all sat on the floor with their legs crossed or on their knees sitting on their legs. Us western dudes are not so flexible and keeping balanced is a challenge. The food was enjoyable but we thought he meal was after the ceremony and should have skipped breakfast. A while later Kyaw's brother came over and invited us to go with him to a nearby building where the new Monks were to appear. He positioned us right outside the door so we could see them all emerge. The elders came first, then there was Kyaw with shaven head and maroon monk robe. As they all filed out the crowd gave each of them gifts which were collected in a plastic bag by a friend following each monk. The gifts were practical things like sandals, bags of laundry power and useful items, or money.
We then went across the way to a building with a golden Buddha shrine in it decorated with red and green flashing lights. Again sitting on the floor, this time listening to the leader chanting with the congregation sometimes joining in. Eventually we were led out and driven back to the hotel.
I am not familiar with Buddhism in Myanmar but the best analogy seems to be adult baptism in the Christian context. We felt privileged to be invited and included as I expect it is something most western visitors never even know happens.