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February 23rd 2011
Published: March 13th 2011
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I caught the 5.30am bus to Mandalay then caught a pickup from the station to my guesthouse. I was actually lead there by a young guy who was on the bus with me. I seem to meet a lot of young men from Kyaukme who are very keen to improve their English so that they can get into tourism or improve their prospects for work. Some of these guys hold English and computer classes. I caught up with Aitan again and went for a walk to the river where he introduced me to a trishaw driver who is a friend of his. The prospects in the future are not too good for trishaw drivers with the introduction of hundreds of thousands of cheap Chinese motorbikes. There are about 20,000 trishaw drivers in Mandalay and the work is getting scarcer for these men who are trying to feed and put their families through school. In the afternoon I caught a pickup out of town to see U Bein’s bridge at sunset. I was put in the cab of the pickup with a monk and I helped him practise his English on the trip out. His monastery was just down the river from the bridge so he gave me a little tour before I headed down to the bridge. First thing I noticed was how many tourists were around, there must have been over 60. It was the most that I had seen anywhere in Myanmar and it actually made me feel quite uncomfortable. I took quite a few photos of the bridge but couldn’t really get the shots I was after. I was also asked to take a few photos of a monk from Vietnam who is residing in Myanmar that I will email to him when I get the chance. I caught the pickup back to the city and because of the darkness had to ask directions to my guesthouse. I found a great little Indian food stall on the pavement where I had a delicious chicken,egg, and pineapple pancake.

Next day I hired a motorcycle taxi to take me the 20kms out to the temple town Sageing. The temples themselves were okay but I appreciated the ride there and back more. I wish I could have asked him to stop more often along the way but we had agreed on a 3 hour trip and I was running out of time. In the late afternoon I tried walking to the jade market but gave up at the end because I had a headache and the fumes from the vehicles were getting to me. Mandalay is quite a hectic city where everyone seems to go at a faster pace than anywhere else in the country. I actually found the place very interesting but after I couple of days I just had to get out. That night I went to the Indian stall again and then treated myself to 2 servings of ice cream.

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