Friday, February 20, 2015

Asia Trip - Day 9 - Mandalay, Burma

Tue 17
Fly to Mandalay
Explore city. We have an early breakfast this morning and transfer to the airport
for a half-hour flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival, we'll stop at the Mahamuni Buddha, the most sacred shrine in upper Burma, covered with so much gold leaf that its body has lost all proportion. We'll also visit a gold leaf workshop, where sheets of gold are beaten into
gossamer-thin pieces. Placing gold leaf on a Buddha image brings great merit to the faithful, so there is a steady growth of gold layers on Buddha images throughout Burma.
Then we'll take an orientation drive around the city, pausing for lunch at a local restaurant. After checking in to our hotel and some free time, we return to explore more of Mandalay, including Shwenandaw Monastery and Kuthodaw Pagoda, before heading out to Mandalay Hill for a panoramic sunset view (weather permitting). We return to our hotel, and dinner this evening is on your own.

Tel: 011 95 2 364 88
Fax: 011 95 2 364 99

This was a very short flight today. About half an hour. Our tour guide takes care of everything. We don't even have to show our passports. A bus is waiting and we start sightseeing right away.
There is always plenty of bottled water in each bus too. We are well taken care of.

Mandalay is the town of the million motor cycles. Traffic criss-crosses and there don't seem to be any rules. Drivers don't seem to be so aggressive. Traffic just flows.

Pickup trucks with benches are the official city buses.

This is a temple with a very important Buddha. The figure gets his face washed and teeth brushed every morning at 4 am. People come and queue to put more gold leaf on the statue. Women are not allowed in that part.

There were for large pictures taken at different times ... When the Buddha was new and then in other years. The gold has built up so much that the statue is totally disfigured and 14 cm thick in some places we were told.

The women's view from the side.

Everywhere there is so much to see. All the little intricate details. Can't possible show it all.

We had some free time and I sent James around again with my camera. You had to pay to be allowed to take photos so we just did a quick sticker transfer from my shirt to his.

Took this picture of the entrance when we are leaving.

Couldn't help taking this picture. Does he think his car is a temple? Look at the shoes.

Next stop is the gold leaf factory. Quite interesting. Difficult to understand that the way they do it is their unique way nobody else can do as satisfactory. Is there no easier way than to have to make very special paper from a very special bamboo and then have to pound the gold for hours?

The gold was so thin though that it looked like it was liquid when you moved the paper.

Sonyeon thought gold is shiny but boring. He thinks the colors on him are much nicer.

And off to lunch. The appetizer nibbles are always going quickly ha-ha.

And then we arrive at our hotel. VERY nice! This is the view from our window.

And we have free time so James goes for a swim. I try to upload a blog. No such luck. Not for all the time we were there and I got a bit frustrated with that. I am on my hols and don't want to spend too much time on it. It's supposed to be a "five-minute job".

I gave up and we strolled around the hotel grounds. This is the entrance to the spa. Inviting?

There was a very nice kitchen garden with healthy looking veggies.

And more sightseeing. Golden Palace Monastery actually used the be the old palace (what is left) but donated by the new young king to the monks because he thought it was haunted by his dead father. It was moved here from the the previous site in mid 1900s. It is totally carved out of teak wood.

There are basically two rooms: what used to be the old throne room and the bedroom. Since it is now a monastery women are not allowed to the very front. I see some lace under glass. Since I can't go (not supposed to and of course I honor that) I sent James to take a close-up. The lace is bad machine made. So no big deal. But James was happy to do that.

Next stop what Ronald calls the worlds largest book. All of Buddha's text is written on stone tablets and each page is in a little house.

I don't know whether these two flower-selling women with their babies (and several more little children) were living between the stones but I saw blankets there and once one of them went there to breastfeed her baby.

This model really gives the best idea.

James found one of them open.

So we could take a better picture of a page.

Then we went to Mandalay Hill where we all climbed into two jeeps. All I can say that it was quite a ride uphill (and then later down!).

Fellow traveler Kathy emailed this picture to me. Thanks!

First we had been told to leave our shoes in the jeeps but then there was a big commotion when we had arrived because there was a power failure. What to do now. A generator must have started up because then we were told to come and leave the shoes somewhere else.
There were escalators going up zig zag. We were a bit reluctant to step on barefeet. An older Chinese lady in front of us almost fell over in the middle. Michael and somebody else just lifted her off at the end.

You could walk around in a circle and look down on the town. It was very hazy though.

The big white building is our hotel.

Walking down.

At the bottom it took a while for Ronald to find our shoes.

Back in the hotel room James wonders which tourist might need the Mandalay telephone book.

We were not hungry so we went to the Kipling's Bar where they have tapas. And it was happy hour. Janie and Chuck joined us and we had a fun conversation. There was even live music which was very much our taste.
Night night.


  1. I am running out of superlatives for the things that you are showing us. When I see pictures of incredible art and craft work from all over the world, I'm so thankful that there are people willing to spend the time learning and doing those things.

  2. The carved teak.... the gold leaf.... the largest book...... I am absolutely captivated. Thanks for sharing the stories and the excellent photography!

    -- Mike S