I really liked Yangon but it was time for me to move on. I booked a bus to Mandalay and I arrived at the Four rivers hostel where I had booked a bed. The place is nice and clean, rooms are spacious, breakfast is good. The bathrooms could do with some make up but it was a very good choice. On the afternoon of the first day there I just walked around a bit to have the feeling of the city. Mandalay is not Yangon.
Motorbikes are allowed there and the conversations among horns made me think of Hanoi. So after the relative peace and quiet of Yangon I felt a little attacked but the feeling soon melted away. People are very nice in Mandalay. The smile. All the time. They don’t see the white face as a walking wallet. Most of the time they just smile at you and then carry on with their own devices. The second day after a good and abundant breakfast on the roof terrace of the hostel I rented a bicycle to visit the city. Before the heat started (and it was already too late) I decided to visit Mandalay hill and the temple on top of it. I got at the foot of the hill easily as the city is plain (a part from the hill) and once I got there I wanted to get to the top by the stairway for pedestrians to reach the top. But there was a little “lost in translation ” situation and by the time I realized I was going up hill with the bike it was already too late to go back. So I made the best of the situation and just “hiked” dragging the bicycle. Once at the top I was ready for a heart attack…. But I just bought a bottle of ice cold water and I sat for 10 minutes just to get back my breath. I walked up some steps and I was in the temple. Su Taung Pyi Pagoda is an immense space all covered in gold and mirrors as Myanmar tradition wants. There are Buddha statues of different colors and forms, so many of them so that at some point I got dizzy.
They way back down was easy as I just let the brakes lose and in 5 minutes I was down. I went to the “biggest book in the world” the Kuthodaw Pagoda, and it was just breathtaking. Thinking of the fact that it was all handmade it’s just mind-blowing!
After that I toured around the walls and went for lunch at Nepali, a restaurant not far from the wall. The food was amazing and cheap and the service five star.
The following day I booked a tour to visit Inwa, Amapura and Sagaing. Three small towns a stone throw from Mandalay. Of course we saw Buddhas and pagodas galore. After Sagaing we stopped for lunch at this vegetarian place near the river. There was just us from the tour and the place is very cosy and quiet. It’s called Himalaya and the food was amazing!
After lunch we crossed the river to visit Amarapura and we got caught in the middle of a rainstorm and we travelled in a chariot dragged by a poor horse and got completely soaked!!! It was fun.
The day after I just packed my bag and waited in the hostel for my night bus back to Yangon to begin my week of volunteering at Tha Bar Wa meditation center.