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Published: December 23rd 2018
Today has been a much more successful sightseeing day than yesterday. Whilst overcast it did not rain and we were able to get out and about without getting drenched.
We initially got a ‘grab’ tuk tuk to Mandalay Hill, the furthest point from our hotel that we wished to see today. Here we passed between the 2 huge lions that guard the entrance to the top. Shoes off we started the 45 minute ascent. The walk is interesting as there are a number of small pagodas to see along the way. My personal favourite was a pink one. There’s also one with a large standing Buddha, pointing towards the city, foretelling that Mandalay would become the capital of Myanmar.
Stephen enjoyed the ordination hall - a concrete building that’s quite literally falling down and is a good example of why we have health and safety rules in the UK.
Neither of us enjoyed having to have bare feet going up the steps. You have to be so careful to avoid stepping in dog poo, cat poo, wee, mud, bits of concrete that have fallen from the roof and any other rubbish that may catch you unawares.
As you get higher
Way up Mandalay Hill
Pointing Buddha - predicting Mandalay becoming the capital
there are increasing numbers of sellers and coffee stalls. Right at the top is the largest pagoda. They charge K1000 for entrance, even if you don’t look inside. Given the clouds were still obstructing the view we decided to go and spend that money on a cup of tea in one of the tea stalls instead.
Almost directly opposite the south entrance to Mandalay Hill is Kyauktawgyi Paya. This is famous for a large standing, marble Buddha, all carved from a single piece of marble. It is also rather overdecorated with loads of LED lights.
Walking a short distance down the road we reached another pagoda, and then stopped for an early-ish lunch. Whilst being shown the toilet out back of our restaurant I was walked through the kitchen (spotless but very basic & still using wood fires) and then past a couple of cocks fighting. Very odd.
Not far from here was Kuthodaw Pagoda, famous for having the largest book in the world. The ‘book’ is actually a collecting of inscribed stone tablets, each within their own little building. I’m not sure if that really counts as a book though...
Over the road from here
we went to see 2 monastery’s and finally got to use our composite tickets we’d bought for the palace yesterday. The first, Atumashi Kyaung, actually burnt down when the British occupied it and the current structure is a replica, now a built in 1996. It is an impressive building with a large, wood & guild hall.
Next door is the ‘golden palace monastery’.
This is a beautiful building, made in the 1800s from teak and completely gilded (hence its name). It is the only building left from the original palace as it’s location was moved prior to the fire that destroyed the rest of the palace. It contained the bedroom of King Mindon, in which he died, and the story goes that his son was so worried it was haunted he had it dismantled and rebuilt as a monastery outside the palace walls.
Whilst there we met a pleasant novice monk, Sun Bright, who wanted to practice his English. He kindly read our palms as well. Apparently our future finances are dependent upon our educational level - sounds pretty accurate.
After some tea and cake we wandered back towards our hotel along the palace walls. The walk was much
Way up Mandalay Hill
The ordination hall - with falling down roof
more pleasant than yesterday, and we had a good view of Mandalay Hill. As we turned towards our hotel we spotted a local dress shop - Stephen really likes the blouses and matching fitted skirts (longyi) that the women here wear. By some miracle they actually had some that fitted me with a little adjustment and I now have a navy blue Myanmar outfit. It turns out here I’m an XXL! The women are tiny - most are very slim but they’re also about half the height of Stephen and I. We have had quite a few selfies with them as I think they think we are giants!
By the time they’d made my skirt and fitted my top it was dinner time. After a lovely curry we returned to our hotel to relax for the evening.
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