Friday, March 5, 2010

Myanmar - Mandalay

A 30 minute flight and I arrived in Mandalay. No one was there to pick me up but luckily a guide from the same company was there for another couple. Since they didn't have a car for me, they hired and paid for a local taxi since I was on the verge of having a fit (remember Spain??). The taxi wasn't air cond and the dust and exhaust were the worse I would experience the whole 10 days I was there. My guide May and the station manager met me upon arrival at the hotel. Both were apologetic for the oversight and I decided I should practice patience...

Most noteworthy sights are outside the city of Mandalay. It was a holiday (Full moon) so traffic wasn't as bad as it could be. Everything worth seeing is a short and/or a long drive or boat ride away.

Stayed at the Sedona Hotel with a magnificent view of Mandalay Hill and the Palace from my patio. Unfortunately, mosquitoes prevented me from sitting outside on my patio to enjoy the view. It didn't bother me as it was too hot and dusty anyway. A picture window in my bathroom and bedroom gave me the same view sans mosquitoes AND it was cooler!

After checking in, I was off to Mingun by boat upriver visiting the Mingun Bell, the world's largest as well as the Mingun Paya. Monks in pink are women.

Followed by the Shwe Inbin and Golden Palace Monasteries.

After lunch we were off to the Kuthodaw Pagoda that houses the world's largest book. It's all written on marble "pages" of about 4' high and there are 1,458 pages . Yes, today was Guiness Book of World Records day! A stop at a tapestry shop was interesting but they bugged me so much to buy, I refused.

The day ended with an excursion up Mandalay Hill to see the sunset. The sunset was a nice one, but what a unique experience with monks. They go to Mandalay Hill not to see the sunset but to practice their English by talking to all the tourists who are there for the sunset. I had a conversation with a monk who was 19 years old from a monastery at the foot of the hill. He comes from a family of 7.

Had dinner at the hotel. By now, my third night and for each day that followed, I'd find myself explaining where I came from, what I was, why I was traveling alone, etc. by both locals and tourists. I should have charged each time I was asked!

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