Tuesday, 11 of October 2016
It’s early morning when we arrive at the bus station of Mandalay. Our Guide is waiting for us. No time to think and here we are, at the back of his pick up. One hour spent at the hotel to drop off our backpacks, take a shower, a breakfast and it is time to explore !
First, we visit a small gold leaves workshop where the guide explains us the process of the fabrication. Three men hammering a piece of gold for hours, the sound of the hammer keeps resonating in our heads. They keep going until the gold is like a thin piece of paper of 2 millimeters thick. The next step is done by a woman in a contiguous room, separating and packaging each one of the leaves for the customers who are going to buy it as an offer for the temple.
We go to Mahamuni Buddha Temple where we see people praying. We notice that just the men are allowed to go close from the Buddha to put the gold leaves on the statue, becoming thicker and, day after day, deforming its original figure.
Next, we go outside of the city to a monastery. We arrive when the monks are finishing to eat. What is impressive is the silence of that place. Everybody eating quietly with total order. The guide brings us at the patio, where some people are cooking. We spend a nice moment laughing and talking with them. A women offers to put a paste on our face to protect it from the sun. In deed, we had noticed that most of the women and kids of the country have the face painted with something. That paste is actually really refreshing and natural. Finally, they surprised us offering a delicious meal. We sit in the floor of the main dining room to enjoy the local gastronomy.
The day continuous by the ascension of Mandalay Hill, a pagoda at the end of a one million steps stairway. It is really warm and the way up is tough on us but the view and the visit worth it.
Then, we visit a small village to see how some of the local crafts are made. We grab a beer along the river and it is time to move on the highlight of the day : U’Bein Bridge for the sunset, a wonderful wooden structure visited by a lot of people at this time.
Exhausted by the long day and the hunt down of a cockroach in the room, we have a quiet evening : a walk on the city to buy a bunch of fruit and then to sleep.
Wednesday, 12 of October 2016
In the morning, after the breakfast, we take our time in the market of the city, smelling, looking, testing all the burmese colors, spices and flavors. We meet our friends at the pier on the river side. Today, we go in front of Mandalay, a 30 minute boat ride from the city.
We spend the afternoon visiting around different temples, some white, some others in rock. We climb up to the tallest one, the one that seems to come out of an Indiana Jones movie. The view from the top is wonderful, we can see other pagodas and even the tall buildings of Mandalay across the river.
When we are done exploring around this area, it is time for our ferry to go back to the city. We hop in and enjoy the ride with our friends, drinking some beers and talking about our coming destinations. The sunset, this afternoon, is special, something in the mood, the orange colors the river displays, made by the sun sinking on the horizon. Enjoying that much, the ride back goes quickly and out of time we are disembarking in Mandalay. No time to chill and rest, we pick up our backpacks from our hotel and head to the bus station, where a bus is waiting for us to take us to our next destination : Bagan.