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Published: December 19th 2018
This morning we woke to the sound of torrential rain, slightly surprising given this is the drier season. Assuming it would pass we enjoyed breakfast on our (undercover) rooftop restaurant. It got heavier.
The main things to do in Mandalay are seeing the Mandalay Palace, Pagodas nearby and the view from Mandalay Hill. There are a few half day trips to local temples and other sites, but again they’re almost all outdoors.
Digging out our waterproofs from the bottom of our bags we braved the weather. At least up to a point - instead of walking to the palace we used ‘grab’ to book a taxi (it’s a bit like Uber and much cheaper than hey would otherwise be).
The palace is in the centre of a walled square, surrounded by a moat, with just 4 entry gates. Most of the area inside the walls is used by the military and so out of bounds. We were dropped at the East gate, the only gate you can enter, bought our tickets and walked the 15mins down the road to the palace. En route we could hear the rather poor brass band practising - they too were obviously not expecting
rain as one of them had to pour water out of his French Horn!
Originally built in 1857 when it was decided Mandalay should be the capital, it was taken over by the British in 1885 and then destroyed in 1945 during WWII fighting. This means that what you can visit is, in fact, a replica built in the 1990s. Whilst the real buildings are still impressive from a distance up close the cracking concrete, rotting wood and corrugated iron roofs are less so. Fortunately the buildings (over 40) are all close together so we didn’t get too wet between them. Most of the buildings are empty but the cultural museum was interesting. There’s also a cool watchtower with spiral staircase on the outside.
From the palace we found a food hall in which to have some lunch. Given it was still raining we procrastinated in here for a long time. On leaving the rain was worse than ever and we decided that looking around pagodas in this weather wouldn’t be fun. We headed back to our hotel, following the moat and palace walls. Within minutes we were soaked through and very glad to reach our hotel for
a change of clothes.
This led to a lazy afternoon of printing place tickets and booking accommodation for the next leg of our journey. Let’s hope tomorrow’s weather is a bit better and we can enjoy the views from Mandalay Hill.
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