monks

MYANMAR PART 4: MANDALAY

MYANMAR PART 4: MANDALAY

Mandalay.

The name itself evokes images of exotic places, far away lands.  It's one of those magical names like Sahara, Amazon and Himalaya, which when I was growing up seemed to belong to places so distant and foreign and alien that they couldn't really exist.

Of course, as I got older, and as my fascination with travel got stronger and deeper, I realized that these places are all real and that with a little will power and dedication it was perfectly possible to actually go there and see them.  Even so, Mandalay is a place name that everyone knows (thanks mostly to Kipling's poem, Road To Mandalay but I knew very little about.  As I researched it for the trip, I began to realize more and more that it would be a fascinating place to spend some time, the spiritual heart of Burma, more monks and nuns as a ratio of the population than anywhere else in the country, three former capital cities in Mandalay, Amarapura and Inwe (two suburbs/towns to the south) and a city with a huge amount of traditional craft and trade.

MYANMAR PART 2: GOLDEN ROCK

MYANMAR PART 2: GOLDEN ROCK

Golden Rock on the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo was a place in Burma I was determined to get to as soon as we decided to go to Burma. I'd seen Steve McCurry's photo of it years before and it just fascinated me, and even though it was pretty awkward to get there with the limited time we had in Yangon, I thought it would be worth it.

Of course, to see it at it's best you have to be there for sunset and sunrise, and that means staying overnight at the top, which proved to be easier said than done. There are a couple of small hotels next to the temple site, but before going we'd pretty much exhausted every means we had of booking a room.  We couldn't contact them at all via the telephone numbers and email addresses we had for them, but eventually a local travel agent (who we'd originally got in touch with to arrange internal flights) managed to arrange a room for us.