Mandalay Hill

As advised by the guide book, we approached from the southern side, past the lions, and walked the full length (1800 or so steps) to reach the main paya, passing a number of shrines and Buddha images and at least three signs pointing ‘To the Top.’ Good views once we got there, even though the day was hazy. We also spotted some interesting birds and a couple of tree hugging lizards.

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Mandalay sights

We took things very easy in Mandalay – sightseeing by bike in the morning and staying out for lunch, then a couple of hours rest in the afternoon – and out again late afternoon.

Inspired by the postcard above, we went along to see the famous Mahamuni Buddha – the paya was packed! Very much a working temple. And this was the only place that M’s long shorts did not cut it – he had to hire a longyi to cover his knees.

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Only men are allowed to apply gold leaf to the image to make merit – shown on video screens as it’s hard to get near the front to see what’s going on
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One of the entrances to Mahamuni Paya
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On our self guided bike tour (with a route suggested by the guide book) we stopped at the Arrawaddy River View Hotel Sky Bar. M was aghast we paid $3 US for an Americano. But it was great coffee and a good view. And a biscuit.
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One of the highlights of our bike tour was the flower market.

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Mandalay, Tidy Town

We stayed at the Smart Hotel, which was a great location – close to the palace and a moderate bike ride away from the World’s Biggest Book and Mandalay Hill. And good food also within easy walking distance. We rode step through rattlers provided free from the hotel every day – it was a wonderful way to experience the city. Compared to the other locations in Myanmar where we stayed, Mandalay (0r at least this part) seemed very house proud – no rubbish in the streets, and people regularly sweeping and watering their patch to keep it clean and not so dusty.

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The royal sandals – that’s real gold inset with rubies. Not your average thongs.
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Mandalay Palace
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Kuthodaw Paya – aka the World’s Biggest Book. A wonderful sight. 
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Kuthodaw Paya
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Wood carving at the Shwenadaw Paya – aka Golden Palace
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View from our balcony, level 6, Smart Hotel

 

Fast boat to Mandalay

We caught the MGRG ‘express’ from Bagan to Mandalay (12 hours).  This involved walking down a sand dune in the middle of the night (ok, 5am, but it was very dark) and then shuffling along a narrow plank to get on board. Once there, however, it was a very comfortable and enjoyable ride. Breakfast and lunch provided, and two! flushing toilets. Luxury.

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The river is a highway. Here’s someone towing an island of small logs, with a worker camped on top.
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The river was shallow in places, and many boats had one or two people at the front of the boat checking water depth.