Our road to Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) – Part 2

Sagaing, Burma. Image taken by MikeRussia on f...

Sagaing, Burma. Image taken by MikeRussia on flickr in Autumn 2006. The creator has granted GFDL licensing and permission for use in the wikimedia project. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ayeyarwady River from Sagaing Hill, Sagaing Ру...

Ayeyarwady River from Sagaing Hill, Sagaing Русский: Река Иравади с сагайнского холма (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pot Maker, Yandabo Village, Myanmar

Pot Maker, Yandabo Village, Myanmar (Photo credit: travfotos)

Boy at the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar

Boy at the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Monks at Mahagandhayon Monastic Insti...

English: Monks at Mahagandhayon Monastic Institution in Amarapura carry alms bowls (thabeik) in order to receive alms. Myanmasa: အရမပူရမြို့၏ မဟာဂန္ဓရုံကျောင်းတွင် ကိုရင်များသည် သိပိတ်နှင့် ဆွမ်းခံချသည်။ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Old City Gate at Amarapura, Myanmar

Old City Gate at Amarapura, Myanmar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sagaing Hill - U Min Thonze - Mandalay, Myanmar

Sagaing Hill – U Min Thonze – Mandalay, Myanmar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Along the Irrawaddy River, Central Bu...

English: Along the Irrawaddy River, Central Burma/Myanmar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Along the Irrawaddy River, Central Bu...

English: Along the Irrawaddy River, Central Burma/Myanmar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our second morning in Mandalay, we crossed the bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. The area is covered with around six hundred white-painted pagodas and monasteries and looks like heaven on earth, where Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. The area is home to three thousand monks and a hundred meditation centers. We visited a number of famous pagodas, including Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae, and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing. The views from the tops of the pagodas were absolutely spectacular, with farmers in their patchwork fields and white pagodas in all directions of the compass as far as the eye can see.  The air was fresh and there were birds chirping enjoying the scenery as well. It was hot and sunny but comfortable with a pleasant breeze.

Later we visited Sagaing’s local market which was a  typical Burmese market that few tourists visit. We saw a range of items for sale including locally made pottery, silver and other handicrafts. Afterwards we stopped at a small pottery village to see the process of making the famous water pots found throughout Myanmar  we would have loved a pair in our garden, but unfortunately they were too large and heavy to ship home.  We stopped at a  local nunnery but declined an offer to take lunch there, instead we watched the daily lunch ritual of the nuns forming a straight line and carrying  their food bowl, walking towards the dining hall and each removing their flip flops along side the steps again in a completely straight line, as if there were hidden string markers for each row of shoes. We watched them all be seated, again in unison and start prayers. The discipline was so unbelievable that we were totally stunned.  We went for lunch to a small Burmese  family restaurant, recommended by our guide and enjoyed a meal reflecting on the nuns and the rest of the morning.

After lunch, we returned toward the city and stopped at Amarapura, which was a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. Later we visited a local village, where we saw basket weaving and traditional loom weaving families. We continued to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this two hundred year old teak bridge over Taungthaman lake. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace and 1.5 kilometers in length, making it the world’s longest teak span bridge. We very much enjoyed strolling across the bridge, admiring the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams. However, the bridge was quite dangerous, so we had to watch our footing   and it wouldn’t be advisable to walk this bridge if you suffer from dizzy spells  as there are no hand rails, in fact no sides  for most of it,  it certainly would not pass a health & safety inspection in Europe nor North America! However, the views were splendid, as long as you don’t look straight down! Our final stop of the day was in Amarapura, where we visited the  Mahagandayon monastery, which is home to over one-thousand monks (open this link for some excellent photos).

At the end of the day, we returned to the roof of our hotel for a drink and another wonderful view of the sunset over the mountains beyond the  Irrawaddy River. We relaxed and reflected on our wonderful day and what we had learned from our guide. We were impressed with the Mahar muni statue which had received so many levels of gold leaf that it had made the face much fatter in a hundred years – we marveled that it was built in 1790 in Rakhaing State and then moved the move to the current location took over two years. We remembered the two large bronze figures returned from Thailand in 1563, after a military victory – they were originally from Angkor Wat and cast in 10th to 12th century. We had learned about  the Anglo Burmese wars of 1819, 1851 & 1885 which led to Burma becoming a British colony, administered from India. Over our drinks, we compared the British influence in Burma to the French colonial period in Vietnam – we concluded that there was probably more French inspired architecture in Vietnam today than British in Burma. For sure, the colonial period brought progress, trade, and development but it also restricted local liberties.

So once again it is “Happy Hour” on the roof and we now look forward to our next Myanmar stop- Bagan and some more temple hopping. Watch this space!

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13 responses

  1. I am planning a trip to Burma in a few months but regrettably only have a grand total of 6 days. I was thinking of dropping out Mandalay from my itinerary so I would enter and exit via Yangon, then spend 2 nights in Bagan and one night on Inle Lake. Would you suggest, having been to the areas I mention, that Mandalay is worth squeezing in, or am I better off just having more time in Bagan and Inle? Your thoughts greatly appreciated – am really enjoying all your Myanmar posts and pictures!

    • Hi Peggy,

      It’s down to personal taste, priorities and interests. I am assuming that you are flying within Myanmar? Personally, we really liked Mandalay, probably more than Yangon. Bagan and Inle Lake are very special – will be blogging about them soon.

      Glad that you are enjoying the blog

      Alf

      • Yes will be flying within Myanmar. I am planning to spend the majority of my time in Bagan and Inle Lake, giving Yangon one full day and an overnight only.🙂 Time restraints – I wish I could also make it to Mandalay!

      • Hi Peggy,
        Your trip will be wonderful and one full day in in Yangon is enough, however Inle Lake is heaven on earth and Bagan is really special. Enjoy your trip. Marilyn

  2. Pingback: Beautiful Bagan Myanmar (Burma) – Part 1 « Discover the Orient

  3. Pingback: Beautiful Bagan Myanmar (Burma) – Part 2 « Discover the Orient

  4. Pingback: Beautiful Bagan Myanmar (Burma) – Part 3 « Discover the Orient

  5. Pingback: Two lovely days in Kalaw Myanmar a hill-station setting for a famous romantic novel « Discover the Orient

  6. Pingback: Stunning Inle Lake Myanmar (Burma) – Part 1 « Discover the Orient

  7. Pingback: Stunning Inle Lake – Myanmar (Burma) – Part 2 « Discover the Orient

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