Mandalay, Myanmar Week 152 February 23rd - 24th 2014
Next day just 120km to Mandalay.

The towns are a bit more "developed" than in India.

Very different.
Thanboddhay Phaya (monastery) is about 10km along the road.
1940's architecture.

A feeling of walking into Legoland.

And of cake icing.
Multiple levels of stupas.
Lions without things under their paws.
Turtles struggling to find a way out of the ponds.
A reclining Buddha .... got to have one of those.
A glimpse of what we suspect may be a darker side of Buddhism.

One that we saw hints of previously in SE Asia.

An icon on each corner.
We are a bit entranced with the Myanmar script.

Totally alien and indecipherable to us.

Inside are gazillions of Buddhas.

And a mirror.

The passages extend across the square in both directions.

The arches are for decoration, the roof is flat.

The walls have shelves with lots of small Buddhas.

These are at floor level for our inspection.

We don't know who does the dusting.

The halo is of neon lights.

About a half million Buddha images in total.

More of the dark side?

These four figures look like they are being tortured.

Above (out of sight) are more conventional figures.

A tower with Spiral Staircase (with absolutely no help from Ralph McTell).

Ladies are not allowed to climb.

A few km further on a standing Buddha.

Laykyun Setkyar.

Perhaps now the tallest after the demolition of the Buddhas in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

Just over the wall are many cast figures facing the Buddha.
Alongside, a reclining Buddha.
We don't know how the ladies remain glued to the motorcycle seats.

But they do.

Michael in the landcruiser had a failed clutch.

Yannick towed him.

A difficult tow, even with solid bar, for about 150km.

Repair organised in Mandalay. About one and a half days for clutch and brake linings (needed after tow). Cost about US$330.

The entry to Mandalay and the stupas become bigger.
Convoy organised, off we set to a sports field in the down town area.
But alas, the convoy was a bit quick.

Back to the drawing board.

Mandalay is on the Irrawaddy River. The central river of Myanmar.

One of those that flows from the eastern end of the Tibetan Plateau.

The Mekong is not far away now.

A passing tourist police officer took pity on us.

A quick phone call to our Myanmar guide for directions and us 5 stragglers set off.

That's Ben, on an Indian Royal Enfield, behind the police.

After a warm, but welcome, night's sleep we walked towards the palace.

Had to chuckle at the inflatable advertising reminding us of home.

We were interviewed by local press last night. Back page, with photo, this morning.

We didn't see many newsagents in India, though people were reading newspapers.

We've had a few visitors at the sports field. Apparently sparked by a Myanmar Facebook post.

The palace area is 2km square.

The first entrance we tried was closed to foreigners so we set off walking round to the east gate.

Myanmar used to be the capital.

The palace was burned down in the 1940's, WWII.

The area inside the walls is occupied mostly by military.


We've reached the first corner.
Rather than walk another couple of km into the center of the palace and back we negotiated a tour of other sights with a taxi driver.

Mandalay Hill in the distance.

A good place for sunset apparently.

There's a religious area below.

The Shwe Nandaw Kyaung ... Golden Palace Monastery.

King Mindon moved it to Mandalay. His son built the current monastery from the materials in 1878.

Apparently the only building left standing from the WWII destruction of the palace.

The carvings were exquisite.

Originally heavily covered with gilt. 

Flat roof, columns to hold it all up.

Females not allowed in the area directly in front of the Buddha.

This is the only icon in the monastery.

But there are ten Jakata scenes telling the story of .....
The four outer walls are all doors.

With carvings.

We don't understand the symbology of one figure above another in all the carvings.

Kuthodau Paya.

Famous for its representation of the Triptaka Canon, on 729 slabs.

Inside each of the stupas is a tablet with writings.

I half expected a camel to appear - memories of Mongolia, it must be time to reminisce a bit as we feel we are nearing the end of our trip.

Just as well we couldn't read the script.

We'd have been here all day reading the world's largest book.

In the centre of the complex is the Buddha image.

We begin to see western, and Chinese tourists.

A look through the market.

The battery on the camera told us it was empty.

Then a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda.
The gold leaf is made nearby. By hand.

Lots of hammering.

Ladies not allowed in the front seats.

Nor people in shorts.

So we went for a look from the side.

The camera allowed us a few last photos.

Then home. For a rest.

And would you believe "recharge the batteries".

With a bit of help from panadeine we are surviving well.

And the help of good restaurant food and the occasional Myanmar Beer - served in cold glasses with a small pad of ice in the base.

Bagan (Pagan), Myanmar Week 152 February 25th - 26th 2014

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