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.
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.
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.
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.