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By Benoît

It was probably the most complete and exhausting day I lived in Myanmar. One day in Mandalay, the second city of the country at its exact center. Here is the report:

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It began around 6am going out of the bus that had brought me from Yangon to Mandalay. I was supposed to sleep in a night bus but my evening had been composed of two hours of Buddhist prayers followed by two hours of Burmese music. In short, I had almost a sleepless night... I therefore landed in the metropolis with large dark circles and the willing to dive straightforward into a bed.
Leaving the bus, a young Burmese impressed by my insomniac broken down face, offered me assistance. He was a motorcycle taxi driver and he helped me to find a hotel. Later, with his gentle and quiet manners so specific to the Burmese people, he sold me a discovery day of Mandalay. I accepted. Visit started at 9am.

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The day is a tour in almost all points of interest of the city. We will see religious, historical and cultural places. Between these points, our mean of transport is the old scooter of my guide, Naing-Naing. It is the ideal transport to move through the Burmese traffic which only priority rule is the horn. All kilometers, Naing-Naing shouts "ça va ?" (How are you?), the only words in French he knows with "Ça roule ma poule !" (it rolls my hen!).

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Our first stop is the Kyauktawgyi pagoda. This is the second most popular shrine of the country.

Luckily, I arrive in the middle of a Buddhist ceremony. In front of the cameras, a hundred dressed Burmese teenagers are squatting in a manner that only Asians know the secret. They pray piously in this solemn hour.
The ceremony was a rite of passage for these Buddhist apprentices. Their crown and their armor are made out of stapled and decorated cardboard, their tunic is made of synthetic satin. This is from what these poor people create these beautiful ornaments.

The boys then rose and left in procession under the religious parasols deployed by their parents.

5





The Buddha statue sheltered by the pagoda is one of the most venerated. A crowd is kneeling in front of it and pious people cover it with gold leaves with respect and prayer.

6





Naing-Naing then leads me to the monks' lunch. Apprentices alerted by a bell start a double file. They get served rice, curry, soup, milk coffee and a cookie. After 11am, they no longer have the right to eat. Lunch is in silence.

7





By scooter, we then go to another religious place. As Burma is one of the most religious countries in the world, temples and pagodas blossom on all landscapes.

The Sagaing temple is located on a hill overlooking Mandalay. We see from there the extent of the city covering all the plain through the blue heat mist.

8





We lunch in the same place as a some tourists doing the same tour (with a few differences) as me.
At that time, I had already understood that the Burmese cuisine was quite bad. I ate therefore a plate of oily fried rice and an instant latte instead of a real coffee. Unfortunately it was difficult to find better. The Burmese merely eat this frightful cuisine (probably a legacy of English empire...) with some green tea you can find in a thermos on every table.

9





While other tourists leave on boat then on carriage, Naing-Naing brings me by scooter to the area of temples and old monuments located on the other bank of the river. I am then avoiding entry fees and other tourists' ridiculous transports, for a personalised tour in monuments left to my only note!

10





He leads me to this ruined temple. Children playing aside improvised themselves as guides in the pile of bricks. This temple was destroyed by the earthquake in 2010. The porch is already rebuilt by persevering faithful Burmese.

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While I was leaving the temple, this little guy freaked me out !

12





We visit other monuments, as this mysterious building we think it serves as a playing field for hiding and seeking used by the children of the king. Exploring the building, we can't design other explanations; the inside is only composed of a set of corridors of different sizes and hidden stairs, but no room! This playground is well worth a Disneyland!

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I feel the day is long despite the wonderful weather. I still want to enjoy it at maximum.

14





Naing-Naing takes me in a handicraft factory. They handmake wedding dresses! Looms are handled with dexterity. The patterns of the tissues are written on paper and is read a bit like a sheet music.

15





It is 6pm and the day ends. Fortunately. Last visit is the one of the longest taek bridge in the world. The wood is valuable because it is rot. The beams of the bridge are two hundred years old and the bridge crosses a 1.7 km large lake.

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We can wait there for the tropical sunset behind the bridge, on the islands or on boats.

17





Thus ended this wonderful and exhausting day. My guide and I will take one full day to rest. But that was worth it: one day for an incredible introduction to a so rich Burmese culture!

1



By Benoît

It was probably the most complete and exhausting day I lived in Myanmar. One day in Mandalay, the second city of the country at its exact center. Here is the report:





It began around 6am going out of the bus that had brought me from Yangon to Mandalay. I was supposed to sleep in a night bus but my evening had been composed of two hours of Buddhist prayers followed by two hours of Burmese music. In short, I had almost a sleepless night... I therefore landed in the metropolis with large dark circles and the willing to dive straightforward into a bed.
Leaving the bus, a young Burmese impressed by my insomniac broken down face, offered me assistance. He was a motorcycle taxi driver and he helped me to find a hotel. Later, with his gentle and quiet manners so specific to the Burmese people, he sold me a discovery day of Mandalay. I accepted. Visit started at 9am.





The day is a tour in almost all points of interest of the city. We will see religious, historical and cultural places. Between these points, our mean of transport is the old scooter of my guide, Naing-Naing. It is the ideal transport to move through the Burmese traffic which only priority rule is the horn. All kilometers, Naing-Naing shouts "ça va ?" (How are you?), the only words in French he knows with "Ça roule ma poule !" (it rolls my hen!).





Our first stop is the Kyauktawgyi pagoda. This is the second most popular shrine of the country.

Luckily, I arrive in the middle of a Buddhist ceremony. In front of the cameras, a hundred dressed Burmese teenagers are squatting in a manner that only Asians know the secret. They pray piously in this solemn hour.
The ceremony was a rite of passage for these Buddhist apprentices. Their crown and their armor are made out of stapled and decorated cardboard, their tunic is made of synthetic satin. This is from what these poor people create these beautiful ornaments.

The boys then rose and left in procession under the religious parasols deployed by their parents.





The Buddha statue sheltered by the pagoda is one of the most venerated. A crowd is kneeling in front of it and pious people cover it with gold leaves with respect and prayer.





Naing-Naing then leads me to the monks' lunch. Apprentices alerted by a bell start a double file. They get served rice, curry, soup, milk coffee and a cookie. After 11am, they no longer have the right to eat. Lunch is in silence.





By scooter, we then go to another religious place. As Burma is one of the most religious countries in the world, temples and pagodas blossom on all landscapes.

The Sagaing temple is located on a hill overlooking Mandalay. We see from there the extent of the city covering all the plain through the blue heat mist.





We lunch in the same place as a some tourists doing the same tour (with a few differences) as me.
At that time, I had already understood that the Burmese cuisine was quite bad. I ate therefore a plate of oily fried rice and an instant latte instead of a real coffee. Unfortunately it was difficult to find better. The Burmese merely eat this frightful cuisine (probably a legacy of English empire...) with some green tea you can find in a thermos on every table.





While other tourists leave on boat then on carriage, Naing-Naing brings me by scooter to the area of temples and old monuments located on the other bank of the river. I am then avoiding entry fees and other tourists' ridiculous transports, for a personalised tour in monuments left to my only note!





He leads me to this ruined temple. Children playing aside improvised themselves as guides in the pile of bricks. This temple was destroyed by the earthquake in 2010. The porch is already rebuilt by persevering faithful Burmese.





While I was leaving the temple, this little guy freaked me out !





We visit other monuments, as this mysterious building we think it serves as a playing field for hiding and seeking used by the children of the king. Exploring the building, we can't design other explanations; the inside is only composed of a set of corridors of different sizes and hidden stairs, but no room! This playground is well worth a Disneyland!





I feel the day is long despite the wonderful weather. I still want to enjoy it at maximum.





Naing-Naing takes me in a handicraft factory. They handmake wedding dresses! Looms are handled with dexterity. The patterns of the tissues are written on paper and is read a bit like a sheet music.





It is 6pm and the day ends. Fortunately. Last visit is the one of the longest taek bridge in the world. The wood is valuable because it is rot. The beams of the bridge are two hundred years old and the bridge crosses a 1.7 km large lake.





We can wait there for the tropical sunset behind the bridge, on the islands or on boats.





Thus ended this wonderful and exhausting day. My guide and I will take one full day to rest. But that was worth it: one day for an incredible introduction to a so rich Burmese culture!

.