Moonlighting in and Around Mandalay

Yes folks back again for another blog. I have had a pretty packed three days in Mandalay I have to say I am pretty tired.
My first day I toured the city independently and I walked the soles nearly off my feet! Mandalay is not a compact city and if I had my time again I would hire a bicycle because my feet still hate me three days later.

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Inside Mandalay itself there aren’t so many sites, so I started with the Grand Palace which is located inside a big fortress around 2 kilometres each side. It was quite nice, mostly wooden and full of people taking selfies.
The afternoon found me walking heaps, almost throwing up when I saw the toilets in the tourist information centre, and finally making my way to two beautiful pagodas, the Atumashi and Shwenandaw Kyaung, also called the wooden pagoda. It used to be covered in gold but that didn’t go so well in the weather I guess. Both this and the Grand Palace are on a ten buck combo ticket that includes another 3 sites.

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I climbed Mandalay Hill in the evening just in time to join tonnes of tourists at the top who had taken motor transport there. I had taken the challenge of walking up the 1700 plus steps where I wasn’t allowed to wear shoes. Coming back down though was murder on my feet.
Yesterday I took a ‘Three Ancient Cities’ tour to Amapura, Sagaing and Inwa. It was a great day  and we took in so many sites, temples and the like. These three towns are not far from Mandalay at all. We saw monks taking lunch, all lined up, more beautiful pagodas but the highlight was sunset on the U-bein bridge, a 1300 yard long teak bridge, the longest in the world. Yes, it was chock-full of tourists but was still a stunning place to be at sunset. The pollution from Mandalay makes most sunsets around here pretty awesome.

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Today I was taken to Mingun, another town close by Mandalay, and another ancient capital. The most mind-blowing of all sights was the bottom third to a stupa that was never finished. It’s huge and bigger than any of the other stupas I have seen. It was started in 1790 and when the King died in 1819 they stopped building it with the top two thirds still to go.

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That’s opposite the rear ends of two giant lions that also weren’t completed. There’s also a giant bell that you can go inside not far away, or if you prefer have your photo taken in front of it.

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I think I liked the Hsinbyume Paya the best.  It was white, simpler than most of the pagodas I have seen, circular…. I  don’t know why I just liked it! And then it was time to come back. Except the motor bike blew s gasket on the ride bsck and it was another three hours before we could continue. And we almost had an accident on the way back too. But, I am still here. Whew!
Tomorrow I move on to Bagan, the site of a truly remarkable ancient city. So, see you in a few days!

Oh, and may the journey never end!

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