I had the most interesting day when I was in Mandalay. A very nice guy at the hotel I was staying at was recommended by a couple staying there to me to take me out to see the old town of Mingun. I’d already been on one day tour out of Mandalay, so this was great because my guide only asked for petrol money even though I did try to pay him more. Which may or may not have been something I should have tried to do.
So it was early-ish in the morning that I strapped on a helmet and got on the back of a motorbike and we headed southwards in Mandalay. We had to go a fair way south because crossing the Ayeyarwady River is not so easy in Mandalay. It’s a wide river and there are only a couple of bridges in the region that take vehicles.
Once crossed – and I have to say that my guide drove at a frightful pace he could have gone half the speed and I wouldn’t have thought he was slow – we headed back up the west bank of the river. It’s actually 11km up the river from Mandalay.
The river crossing and bridge itself was a great place to stop as it was truly a stunning scene and worthy of a few photos or more. The ride up the west side of the river wasn’t as terrifying as the road was smaller and there was less traffic. We went through a few small villages, it was a really pretty area and a nice ride in itself.
The main attraction of Mingun is the massive base of an incomplete temple that if complete would have dwarfed just about every temple in the entire world. Mingun Paya, or the Mingun Pahtodawgyi was founded in 1790 and was built by thousands of prisoners of war. The building was ceased because of a prophecy that the King would die once it was complete. Fair enough if you’re the King but if you were one of the poor sods who built it, you’d be a bit peeved, wouldn’t you?
There is a giant crack in it now thanks to an earthquake in 1839 and you can’t actually go inside, however people can climb to the top.
Nearby is the Mingun Bell, another oversized object that was also damaged by an earthquake. Tourists love to go inside it and you know, be loud, and then take as many selfies as is humanly possible both in and outside the bell. Good for them say I!
The third thing I saw that day was the Mya Thien Tan, a rather attractive very white temple, and enjoying far less tourists than the other two attractions. Also known as the Hsinbyuma Pagoda, this was built in 1816 to a Princess.
On the way back to Mandalay something happened. The bike broke down! It just stopped working and wouldn’t restart. We got it onto a truck and stopped and the next village where we then had to shop around for a part. It was a 2-3 hour delay, and I was told that it happened because of my weight! Very embarrassing! Yes, I paid for all the repairs. That certainly didn’t slow my guide down however, as he raced back to the hotel again scaring me half to death!
And so, that was my day trip to Mingun. It’s worth going without a doubt and the size of the Mingun Paya (base only!) will knock your socks off! Hope you enjoyed reading about it – May the Journey Never End!