Their faces are scrubbed and make-up free, hair clipped to the scalp and barely an inch of flesh is on show. And I have never seen more exquisitely beautiful women in my lifetime.
I am at the Tha Kya Di Thar nunnery in Mandalay, Myanmar, and teenage nuns, resplendent in pristine pink cotton robes and tangerine sashes, are bowing beneath a flower festooned statue of Buddah.
Touching their foreheads to the ground, they rise and resume chanting. I feel tears well and my skin prickle with goose bumps. I am honoured and humbled to be witnessing what is normally off limits to the public, something so serene and spiritual it is for Buddha’s eyes only.
Should I have made my way to Myanmar on my own, my experience of nuns would be limited to fleeting glances in ornate pagodas – if I was lucky. But today, not only am I a guest in the nunnery, I will be serving the nuns lunch then joining them to eat it.