Temple of Doom

Temples are to Asia what Starbucks is to New York. If you can't see one from where you're standing, you need new glasses. As a sophisticated, culturally sensitive traveler you might be tempted to visit all of them (temples, not Starbucks). I thought I was a sophisticated, culturally-sensitive traveler once, but recently traded sophistication for clean feet and never looked back. Here's why you should consider joining me:

1.     The interior of every temple is the same. My theory is that ancient temple decorators went to an ancient Ikea and bought an ancient temple decorating set - probably called the Buddhasmoulder. The Buddhasmoulder did come with three Buddha options: round Buddha (Buddhadagstorp), horizontal Buddha (Buddhaflardful), and surprisingly thin Buddha (Buddhasmordsull). There was also a Hindu decorating kit called Karmasmulffjen, but it was just 2 dozen golden statues with horns.

2.     Monkey poo. Your initial reaction to the monkeys that surround Asian temples might be, “Oh look, exotic and adorable reminders of the ancient civilization that surrounds me.” That’s before you’re forced to remove your shoes at the door. Once barefoot, your reaction to monkeys is generally, “Oh look, those exotic creatures have thrown poo all over this ancient holy temple.” Monkeys throwing poo is cute in Madagascar (the movie, it’s equally gross in the country), but its not so great as your pick your way, barefoot, up the 777 steps to shrine at Mt. Popa.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda