Mandalay: Lost and Found

Trip Start Apr 18, 2012
Trip End Jun 12, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay Region,
Friday, April 27, 2012

A few random notes before I post about our current location, Mandalay:

Random Note 1. All of Myanmar is in a time zone that is a HALF hour behind Thailand, which I thought was evidence that this place is a bit strange. But then the sensitive Canadian informed me that Newfoundland is also a half hour off from its nearest time zone. I still think it's weird. Sorry to all of the Newfie readers.

Kyla explaining this to me: "So, for example, Degrassi Junior High might be on at 7pm in one city and at 7:30 in Newfoundland." Love that Degrassi is her go-to bridge between cultures. I heart Canada.

Random Note B. The cars in Myanmar all date back to the 80s and are British, meaning that the driver sits on the righthand side. But, in an effort to show their distaste for British colonialism, many years ago the government decided to make people drive on the right side of the road (so they drive like they are in north america, but the driver sits on the wrong side of the car. Thus, to pass on the left, the driver must be entirely IN the passing lane before he can see if anyone is coming the other way. Challenging.).

Random Note iii. I was feeling sort of badly about taking UNICEF-y photos of packs of kids and packs of monks--it felt sort of invasive and wrong....that is until kids and monks and everyone else started asking us whether they could take OUR photo. We've been asked to pose with children, families, grandmas, etc. It's not clear to me whether my hair or Kyla's affiliation with Justin Bieber is the main attraction. (HOLYCRAP-- while proof-reading this from a park bench in a garden in Pwin oo Lwin (see next post), a family came over and plopped their munchkin next to us for a photoshoot. This time, I asked for a photo too--you will see it in my Pwin oo Lwin post.).

Random Note 4. The monks here are super casual. My understanding is that most monks are not monks-for-life, and instead become monks for only a few years, whenever they feel called to do so. As a result, monks do all sorts of things that I previously would have thought were un-monk-y, like talking on cell phones, riding motorcycles, flirting , and asking western tourists to pose for photos with their babies. When I get back to the US, my new business plan is to write a Hippos-Go-Bizzerk/Boynton-esque children's book about monks--e.g. "Monks ride mottos; monks take photos. Monks go on a picnic; monks chat with a hippy-chick. Etc."

On to our time in Mandalay. Like in Yangon, the streets here are packed with people, bikes, scooters and markets. I think there's a bit of a less insane vibe than in Yangon. Also, we've encountered our first skinny-jeans-wearing Burmese hipsters--I think there is a slightly less stuck-in-time feel here.

On our first day in Mandalay, we walked through the streets to run a few errands--travel office, Internet cafe, etc. Then, we hired a taxi to take us first to Mandalay Hill for some more Buddha/temple viewing and we then to Shwe In Bin Monestary, which was my *second* favorite part of the day-- it was a peaceful and beautiful break from the heat, traffic and diesel fumes of Mandalay. Pics of the teak monastery are below.

For those of you who have made it this far in this too-long blog post, here's a special treat for you: my LEAST favorite and MOST favorite parts of the day. If you are Steph, please take your OCD meds before reading further. If you are Bonnie, get ready to be furious. If you are Jenn, prepare your response of shock and awe. If you're a Canadian who has not yet met me, please know that there are plenty of ways in which I'm a reliable and responsible person...but keeping track of my belongings is not one of them. If you are Sarah L. Russell, get ready to win some mad cash.

WORST part of day: realizing that I left my iPhone in a Mandalay taxi.

BEST part of day: witnessing a team of locals working together to find my missing iPhone and have it hand-delivered to our guesthouse. Wahoooo! Kind of reminds me of when I left my glasses at a roadside stand on a highway in Vietnam and the tour guide had them mailed to my next hotel. And yes, to summarize, it's true: I LEFT MY IPHONE ON THE SEAT OF A TAXI IN MANDALAY, MYANMAR. AND IT WAS RETUNED TO ME WITHIN 8 HOURS! #karmadeficit.

Our second day in Mandalay was a bit less hectic, and did not involve such ups and downs. We hired a driver from our guesthouse to give us a tour of some villages outside of Mandalay--Amarapura, Sagaing, and Inwa. We were in Amarapura in time to watch monks from the local monastery line up for lunch. The endless line of crimson robes was cool. And Kyla just about exploded with joy when a monk smiled and passed her an extra banana.

After Amarapura, we headed to the temples of Sagaing. We schlepped/walked up a billion steps to get a good view of the temple-dotted landscape, and then had a nice lunch by the river. (Sick of temple/paya/stuppa/pagoda pics yet? Tough.). After lunch, we took a boat across the river to Inwa, which is the first place we've felt stuck with other tourists. Everyone from our mostly-tourist boat was unloaded into horse-carts and then taken on a somewhat boring and very bumpy tour of the village temples, and then we were loaded back on the boat and delivered to our taxi drivers on the other side of the river.

After Inwa, our driver took us back to Amarapura, so that we could walk across what is apparently the world's longest teak bridge. The bridge links a monastery to another village, and, each day at sunset tons of monks and locals stroll across. As we sauntered across, an elderly monk struck up a conversation and we chatted with him for most of our walk, which felt delightful. Upon request, we posed with a few more grandmas and babies and then joined our taxi driver for the ride back to Mandalay.

A quick breakfast at our guesthouse (Peacock Lodge--land of friendly owners, only occasional electricity and no functioning AC) and then off to Pwin oo Lwin, where we've heard it's much cooler. Looking forward to non-sweating-through-your-money-belt weather! [Ryan--instert comment re: my complaints about Boston weather.]
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Suzanne on

Val--this stuff is pricelesssss!!! love it, love it, love it, and the photos too.- xoxo Suzanne

Sharon on

I couldn't have said it better than Suzanne!

eggie on

so when are you guys taking this show on the road or publishing your first novel. I'M SERIOUS. love the photos. especially the one of the t-shirt that says "happy halloween" and "dvd"

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