Trip Start Dec 07, 2012
Trip End Mar 27, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay,
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6th - In Mandalay
We took a shared taxi for 5 $ a person which ended up being real cheap cause it took more than an hour to get to the hotel (Nylon hotel) which we booked by phone for 30$. We were pleasantly surprised after all the horror stories we heard and read (or maybe we are just easy ;-).) The hotel room is clean, we have hot water and airco and Wifi at the reception, what else do you want ?
We dropped our luggage and went to get some dollars changed into the local money (kyats) at a bank and than asked the reception where there was a clean restaurant. We got sent to a chinese restaurant where we had a ok meal, nothing fantastic, a bit greasy. Than we started looking and asking around how to get to the Bein bridge or Pain Bridge as we saw it written sometimes. It took a while to find a taxi van going that direction but in the end we got lucky. It was real fun with all these people jumping in and out and it is pretty obvious that they're not really used to foreigners yet. They really look at you but are extremely friendly and smile at you and the ones that speak a bit of English love to come and talk to you to help you giving directions or whatever.
In fact Andrea and I had the same first feeling about the atmosphere ... Kathmandu - Nepal but than slightly different or as the Thai would say: same same but different. Physically the Burmese inhabitants seem a real mix of Indian, Thai and mountain tribes. The men and women dress them self most of the time with a cloth like a skirt, again like Nepal and most parts of India. Anyway we have a good first feeling !
After about an hour on this taxi van we got sent a direction to walk for another 2 km through a little sweet village with houses made out of wood or woven leaves and bamboo. Impressive we're going back in time, this I've only seen 15 years ago deep into the northern part of Thailand and girls washing with water out of a well like in Nepal and India.
We finally get to the bridge which is a beautiful handmade wooden bridge of about a kilometer long. The views are breath taking especially as the sun is slowly going down. We take lots of photos and enjoy every minute. Than we have to get back, after having discussed for a bit like usual and walking away from it we decide to take a taxi bike, meaning sitting with 3 persons on the same bike. Lucky that we're not big and fat :-) anyway after about 40 minutes we got to our hotel where we asked for a place where we could eat something else than Chinese. We got sent to a place a few blocks away. We tried a burger but both of us couldn't finish it, we had heard it from other people, the food is just to greasy ! Anyway, we'll probably end up loosing a few kilos this 2 weeks ! No worries ! We walked back to the hotel, had a shower and watched a bit of tv while I was writing this. We're pretty tired so we won't stay up long I bet.

We are in Mandalay only for two days and we already are in love with this city! The people are so sweet. They laugh at us on the time and they are very curious asking questions and trying to speak English.

We had breakfast and it was not delicious, but we expected worse. After that we rented two bikes for 1500 kyats each. It's almost 3 dollars each for the whole day. We went first to the Royal Palace. It was built by the king Tibaw in 1857 and in 1885 the British ejected the Burmese elite from their teak houses. During the WWII the palace was destroyed and it was completely rebuilt in the late 1990s. It is really impressive! The combo ticket for all the sites for 5 days is only 10 dollars.

After the palace we went for lunch at cafe Kipling. We had a chicken sandwich. Not bad!

Then we biked in the 40 degrees Celsius to Mahamuni Paya, a beautiful Buddhist temple with a big Buddha made of gold. Many locals believe it is 2000 years old.

After the temple we went to see the sunset at Mandalay hill. First we saw the terrific Shewenandaw Kyaung, Golden Palace Monastery. There is a really astonishing golden stupa in the middle of the monastery. It is really worth to stop and see it.

The way up to the 760ft Mandalay hill is quite heavy with many stairs and it takes 45 minutes to reach the top. You can find many big Buddhas all the way. When you get to the top for the sunset you have the best view of Mandalay! We met two girls from Mandalay on the way to the top. We were sweating terribly and they were completely relaxed. They do this every day.

Except for the food we love Mandalay. We met some people that told us that it is not a beautiful city. However we cannot disagree more. It is a fantastic city and we want to come back. Stefano made many pictures from the temples today. Now he is relaxing and watching tv. We are very tired from biking and seeing temples the whole day.

Tomorrow we leave very early to Bagan. Our tickets cost 15 dollars each. It will be at least 7 hours by bus. We will be four days in Bagan.

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