Myanmar Mandalay 2002.01.25 - 01.27

Urban Life

Relative to the rest of Myanmar, Mandalay is urban congestion with few interesting sites. Travelers with short schedules should drop Mandalay from their itinerary.

Of the various sites we saw, only the Shwe Inbin Monastery was peaceful, beautiful, and interesting. With carved teakwood exterior, tiered roof, and surrounding wooden deck, Shwe Inbin is spectacular. Because it's omitted from many guidebooks, the monastery is free of touts and truly relaxing.

By comparison, the sites listed in the guidebooks are better avoided. Mandalay Hill charges US$3 for a gaudy collection of Buddhas with blinking Christmas lights radiating above their heads. Zaycho Market is a Burmese version of K-MART. Further south in Amarapura the two sites promoted by guidebooks, U Bein's Bridge and Maha Gandagon Monastery, are packed with tourists on package tour and beggars. Our experiences in Mandalay weren't particularly enjoyable.

While walking, a novice monk led us to his school, Phaung Daw Oo. There, we talked to the principal who is also a monk. The school is funded by private donations and teaches over 6000 students from Kindergarten to high school. Phaung Daw Oo is looking for foreign volunteer teachers. If interested, contact Lailla at Novotel Hotel in Mandalay or telephone the principal, U Nayaka at +95-2-39855. The school will sponsor a 1-year visa to Myanmar.

Two eateries in Mandalay deserve a mention. The restaurant on the Northeast corner of 25th and 83rd Streets is clean and delicious. Also at the same intersection is Nylon Ice Cream on the Southwest corner. Nylon has excellent ice cream and lassis. Bring mosquito repellant, however, because the neighborhood is infested.

From Mandalay, an 8-hour bus ride took us to our next destination, Bagan.

After breakfast, novice child monks climb a stupa at Eindawya Pagoda near AD1 Hotel in Mandalay.
Teakwood carvings decorate the exterior of Shwe Inbin Pagoda in Southwest Mandalay. Unlike many of the sites in Mandalay, Shwe Inbin is peaceful and beautiful.

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