May - June 2018
  • Day10

    Final Thoughts

    May 30, 2018 in Myanmar ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Well, that’s it then we’ve arrived at the airport and are waiting to check but we have to go through a security check just to get to check in and the security staff won’t let us through yet because were too early. Oh well nothing for it but to sit in a cafe, have a nice warm drink and reflect on yet another adventure.
    I think Myanmar is probably the least developed of all the countries we have visited so far, which I suppose shouldn’t really come as a surprise considering their recent history. This does make it a bit more challenging to get around but at the same time that’s kind of what we thought and what we hoped for. It just means that, in and around Mandalay at least, they are not really set up for the tourist trade, unlike their neighbours. However it is clear that they are working to catch up and there are a number of new hotels going up across the city, not sure if the infrastructure to support it is there yet though.
    If we were planning this trip again I’d definitely have gone for less time in Mandalay and more in Bagan though. I think two or three days in Mandalay is plenty to see all of the sights in and around the city and we’d both have liked at least four full days in Bagan. It would have been nice to have made the river trip as well but I think we’d have to come during peak season for that.
    So to quickly summarise, we like Myanmar, Mandalay was okay but we loved Bagan. We will come back again but next time will be Yangon and Bagan. I’d say to anyone who was thinking about visiting Myanmar to do it sooner rather than later, yes it is going to get easier to get around over the next few years but I think what will be gained in ease may be lost in character.
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  • Day9

    Mingun City, extra photos 3

    May 29, 2018 in Myanmar ⋅ 🌧 24 °C

    Mandalay Hill

  • Day9

    Mingun City

    May 29, 2018 in Myanmar ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

    As forecast the weather today has not been great it’s rained pretty much all day, not heavy like yesterday but enough so that you need an umbrella. Fortunately we borrowed one from the hotel reception this morning.
    Originally we had just planned to see a few more of the sights in Mandalay and possibly Mandalay Hill, but after yesterday we decided that it would be good to visit the last old capital of Myanmar in this area and go to Mingun City, which was about 11km out of town as the crow flies (38km by road) and visit the Myatheindan Pagoda, the Mingun Bell, Pahtodawgyi and a few other temples in that location. Fortunately our driver was up for this and we set off at about 9.00am.
    You can do this trip by river or by car and based on the weather and how wet we got yesterday we opted for the safe and dry option of the car. The drive there was interesting and because the roads are so poor here (even many of the main ones) it took nearly an hour and a half. It wasn’t all bad though because it’s quite a scenic route and it runs alongside the river for a good part of it. We then spent a very pleasant couple of hours exploring and photographing the sights that Mingun has to offer. The city was in effect abandoned after a large earthquake in 1839 caused large cracks to appear in the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda meaning in couldn’t be completed and caused damage to other parts of the city, although some small settlements have remained in the area.
    When we were exploring we found what looked like an old abandoned Pagoda and grounds. But on further inspection it turned out that it was only built in 1966 and just looked old and decrepit (I know how it feels). So I had a bit of an explore and found some old houses inside that were also a bit decrepit but turned out to be accommodation for some monks.
    Anyway, once we had finished we got back in the car and our driver announced that we were going to Mandalay Hill. I looked at Tanya and could see what she was thinking, oh no not all those steps and the dog poo! She’d been traumatised enough just getting her feet mucky with normal (ish) muck around Mingun, so there was no telling how she might react - lock herself in the car and refuse to get out in all likelihood. However the situation was averted before it even got going when our marvellous, excellent driver said he would drive us to the top of the hill. Not something that was possible if you pay any attention to the guidebooks, but what do they know!
    So we were driven to the top of the hill, leaving only 50 or so steps to negotiate, it would have been even less but the elevator was out of action. The views of and around Mandalay from the top of the hill were well worth the arduous climb and once again we were a bit of a novelty and this time experienced a first for us when a group of three young monks asked if they could take a photo of them with us, normally it’s the other way round. We duly obliged and then asked if they would do the same for us, well it seemed only fair.
    By now it was about 2.00pm and we were starting to get a bit peckish. There are lots of good restaurants in Mandalay our driver assured us and asked us if we wanted Mandalay food again, but I’d learnt my lesson yesterday and we went for Chinese. In fairness the Chinese was very good and quite possibly the best meal we’ve had in Mandalay but didn’t quite rank up there with the Nasi Goreng at the hotel in Bagan. Over lunch we decided that although there were more temples and pagodas that we hadn’t seen, we’d seen everything we wanted to so called it a day and got dropped off back at the hotel for a bit of relaxation and packing for the journey home tomorrow.
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