Mandalay – The Golden City

Mandalay was the capital of Upper Myanmar. It is called the Golden City and founded by King Mindon on 1857. The capital city is moved from Amarapura to Mandalay. Now, Mandalay is the second biggest city in Myanmar next to Yangon.

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How did I get there? After my boat tour in Inle Lake I looked for a bus company that can bring me to Mandalay. I asked my inn in Nyaung Shwe if they can arrange it for me but they offered a bit expensive fare. I found a bus company that can bring me by daytime in Mandalay in a cheaper price.

The mini bus arrived at my inn at around 8 AM. I was the first one to pick up by the van. While traveling to Mandalay, I seated beside the monks! HAHA. We left Nyaung Shwe at 9 AM and arrived in Mandalay by 3 PM.

Where did I stay? I booked a dormitory room with capsule bed at Four Rivers Hotel. This was actually my favorite hotel in all the places I stayed in Myanmar. It has the most comfortable bed and bathrooms. A bit far away from restaurants but I love that the location is just in front of the street.

The hotel also offers the most delicious DIY breakfast. They have the best Wi-Fi connection from all the hostels I stayed. One of the perks I like more in Four Rivers Hotel is they have a whiteboard to write down your name and share taxi going to airport or for tours. I wrote my name to share a taxi with someone, hoped I can shrink my budget.

Even I had the comfiest bed; the door is just beside my capsule. I was bit irritated by my dorm mates as they smashed the door hard and makes my sleep interrupted. But I have to admit it, my bed is lovely! Positive mindset na lang! HAHAHA.

To read more about my review about my stay in Four Rivers Hotel, please click Best backpacker hotel in Myanmar!

How did I get around the city? Mandalay is a busy city. I noticed that it is also a heaven’s place for motorcycles and cabs. A man outside my hotel asked me if I want to hire him and his motorcycle for a day tour. I am a bit hesitant that time, I asked him that I want to get some dinner and rest before I can decide.

By the next day, I headed down on the reception area to check if someone wrote on the whiteboard to share a taxi with me. But no one writes their name. SAAAADDD. I went outside to see U Myint, the motorcycle man. He then said OK and told me that he can start the tour by 9 AM. We then agreed in 20,000 kyat to see the whole city. We left the hotel by 9:30 AM.

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The motorcycle ride was extreme! I was very glad to see the city in these wheels. It may have been dustier but it was fun! I was a bit afraid seeing trucks, cabs and other motorcycles side by side with my motorcycle. But it was a ride of a lifetime!

It was one full day of adventure and here were the places we visited:

Mahagandayon Monastery

It is located in Amarapura. This monastery is famous for the daily queue of monks for their 10 AM meal. Monks and locals prepare their meals everyday.

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I met a Dutch who also stayed in the same hotel was at Mahagandayon too. We were very lucky to talk with an adult monk about what are the reasons they stayed in this monastery and how was their daily routines. He said there are more than 2,000 monks staying in Mahagandayon. Monks are from different states of Myanmar. There are monks who lived there by the age of 3.

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We were very stunned by how many monks are lining up to have their meals,  their big casseroles to feed all the monks! The lines were like never-ending!

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The monk whom we talked to said that most of families in Myanmar want one of their children to be a monk. It was like a Buddha’s blessing for their family.

Monks are one of the best subjects to photograph in Myanmar. So I took the chance to take photos of them in every angle that I can.

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U Bein Bridge is near the Mahagandayon Monastery. U Myint said that we can stop there but I refused. I want to see the bridge on sunset.  He then changed the price of the tour to 25,000 kyat since it will be far away from the city center. I then agreed!

Mandalay Royal Palace

When King Mindon moved the capital of Upper Myanmar in Mandalay. He followed a Buddhist prophecy to form a palace into a perfect square. It has outer wall facing the cardinal directions and the 12 gates named after all of the zodiac signs.

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The whole palace complex was destroyed by fire during World War II. Myanmar rebuilt the palace walls, city gates and wooden pavilions.

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My motorcycle cannot enter the Royal Palace. I actually forgot to asked why as there are other motorcycles and cabs can enter. I was unprepared to walk for more than 30 minutes from the entrance gate to the Palace. I have no choice then, I have to walk. Hahaha.

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Now, the Royal Palace is one of the best tourist attractions in Mandalay.  Its massive land is filled with wooden pavilions with magnificent structures.

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The Nanmyintsaung or watch tower is standing tall to observe the whole city from above.

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For more than hour inside the Palace, I walked again to return in the entrance gate and meet U Myint.

Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery

This monastery was once a part of the Royal Palace. This is the only structure that survived the fire destruction happened on World War II. Now, it is moved to a different location.

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It is a pure gem of the old city. The Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung is carved into perfection. The wooden carvings are true marvels. I am very glad that this structure survived the war!

 

Kutho Daw Pagoda

It is said that this pagoda has the world’s biggest book. When we arrived here, I was actually looking for that big book! Pero I was like super tanga. HAHAHA. The book is actually the different scriptures written in stone slabs store inside the small white pagodas.

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It would be lovely to see the pagoda from above as they said that it forms like a book. But I can’t find any way to photograph it from above. But certainly, seeing these hundred white pagodas was thrilling! Pang-Boysen commercial!

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I was very lucky to have free thanakha paste on my face by a lady! She also sells postcards. I haven’t bought her postcards but  I said a little prayer for her and her family for her genuine kindness.

 

Mandalay Hill

The Hill is the best spot to see the whole Mandalay. I was a bit uncertain if I want to climb the hill. In Mount Popa, I climbed 777 steps and in Mandalay there is 1,729 steps!!! But since there are no monkeys and rain, I set out!

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U Myint said that I must return by 5 PM to see the sunset in U Bein Bridge. It was 3:30 PM when I started to climb the Hill. #goodlucktome

I never imagined that it was that high! I stopped many times just to catch my breath. Thankfully, there are seats on both side of the path. There are different temples to see when climbing up the Hill. I was always in the question if I already reached the top. But hell no! There are more steps!!!

After 45 minutes, I reached the top of Mandalay Hill!!! Wooooohoooo!! Thank you, Lord!!!

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It was a sunny and hot on the top of the hill! It was an incredible feeling to reach the top!

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Time is ticking and I need to return on the ground. I thought it will be easier to go down but it was never that I expected. My back, knees and feet are tired. I was 15 minutes late to see U Myint.

U Bein Bridge

Located at the South of Mandalay. It is the longest and oldest teak bridge in the world. The teak woods came from the deserted Innwa Palace. This bridge has stood test of time for 2 centuries.

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I had some quite time to take photos and be photographed! Yey!

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I was stoked by the photographs of this bridge over the internet. The sunset is the best time to see the bridge. I have stayed here for more than an hour maximizing all the time that I have in Mandalay.

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It was very majestic to see how the natural lights changed. Though it was cloudy, U Bein Bridge did not disappoint me. The locals and tourists who cross the bridge make it more interesting to watch.

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I haven’t reached the other end of the bridge as I was waiting for the perfect time to photograph it. I never regret that I paid 5,000 kyat more to see the bridge. I was a very happy kid indeed.

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The tour was finally over! We reached my hotel by 8 PM. Tired and hungry, Mandalay never failed me! I wish I can spend more days here. If you will be able to reach Mandalay, please add Innwa, Amarapura and Pyin-Oo-Lwin in your list. These are the places outside the central Mandalay.

Mandalay sets apart from other places in Myanmar! It was adventure-packed! I am actually planning now to return in Mandalay next year. I hope I can make it through!

Here are my expenses in Mandalay,

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