In film this time:
On the way to the Botataung Pagoda:
At the Shwedagon Pagoda, before sunset:
Here a retired professor showed me how to pray: he first had to look up the day of the week on which I was born to find my station. I poured water a number of times over a statue of Buddha while the professor instructed me to pray for friends and family. It was like making wishes over a birthday cake.
The tourist fee to enter the massive pagoda grounds supposedly goes to the purchase of gold needed to maintain the stupa's blinding exterior. There are thousands of diamonds and rubies crowning it, with a 76 carat diamond at the very top; we were shown a "secret" nook where if you stood at certain marked spots, the diamond changed from green to orange to yellow.
On the ferry to Dala:
You walk across Strand Road to the jetty, pay the fee, and board the ferry which is so crowded that some people find it easier to balance their belongings on their heads (like a basket of chickens, for example). You will probably immediately be approached by older teenagers or twenty-somethings who will be your guides, and this has most likely been their occupation since they were 14. Once across the Yangon River, you can choose to pack into a tour bus to visit Twante (known for its pottery), take a trishaw (if only to stop them following you for the next half hour), or walk around Dala. The latter is a small township made up of bamboo huts, pagodas with goats at the gate and dirt paths. It is really beautiful.