Picturesque palace & moat and ancient cities...

Trip Start Nov 21, 2009
Trip End Dec 06, 2009

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Where I stayed
Mandalay Hotel (ok)

Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay,
Saturday, November 28, 2009

For some reason, Mandalay has this
glorious, mystic reputation. My guidebook was pretty clear that is
not quite the reality today, so I expected a smaller, quieter version
of Yangon – but far from it!
Mandalay is a bustling, noisy, big city
with chaotic traffic, motorcycles and little micro trucks (aka “blue
taxis”) buzzing through the streets. It's dusty and smoggy and
there is construction all around. After Yangon and the serenity of
Bagan, this comes as a bit of a shock.

We take our first day to explore the
sights of the city – the Mandalay Palace with its huge moat (ok, it
was more of a walled, inner city than the living quarters of a king),
the Mandalay hill with its temples (and view) and the downtown
neighborhoods. It's a pretty big city and high hill, so we are glad
to catch a blue taxi back to the hotel (ok, not so glad after a few
minutes – it's like an ancient tuk-tuk, without the charm).
This night, we have the most fun dinner
of the trip. We are going to a local bbq joint (no foreigners around)
where we pick out the meat and hand it over to the cook to
grill....hmmmm.... the half-foot high chairs and foot-high table give
it a dollhouse feel, but that adds to the charn...

The second day, we explore the ancient
cities around Mandalay: Inwa, Saigang Hill and Amanrapura with the U
Bein bridge. Our lack of Burmese and the driver's lack of English
make it a little more difficult than expected... our planned sunset
spot U Bein bridge )the longest teak bridge in the world) ends up
being our first stop. After braving the assault of vendors, we enjoy
the stroll across the bridge and through the village at the other

Sagaing Hill with its amazing temples
(we get a silent tour from a local monk) and grand views is the
highlight of the day.

Our last stop is Inwa, the ancient city
on an island. We get to see the sights by horsecart: a stukko temple
(dark and slightly creepy), a leaning watch tower (move over, Pisa,
you have been bested – and this one fell over once already; also
creepy) and the largest teak temple in the world (very dark and, yes,
also very creepy).

The whirlwind day-tour of the ancient
sites probably doesn't do them justice, but we are pretty done by the
end of the day...

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