Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Circling Myanmar: Mandalay

Day 5 – August 25, 2015

Mandalay was the last city in my Myanmar itinerary.

I reserved my seat in the couch to Mandalay through the hotel and paid 9,000 kyats. I was informed that the whole bus trip would last for 5 hours. Because it left Bagan at 1pm, I expected to arrive at early evening so I thought of enjoying Mandalay City at night.

I was glad to know that the Coaster Bus we took followed a different route than the usual highways for regular buses. I felt gladder to know that the bus will drop us to our respective hotels. Having examined the google map early on, I noted that Yadanarbon Hotel where I reserved a room for the night is reasonably far from the downtown. To be taxied there for me was indeed a surprise treat.
I tried to catch the sunset at the Royal Palace walls but it was too late; it was too dark already when I got there. I just walked my way there from the hotel and found out that it was more than a kilometer away. I decided not to hire a taxi or public utility motorbike because I noted earlier that it was like near enough. Reaching one of the entrances where foreigners are not allowed, the guard agreed that I would just take pictures.

Later, in my search for a fastfood, not really a KFC outlet like the one in Yangon, but something like local fastfood, I reached as far as Yadanarpon Plaza. But I found only RTW stores around, no foodcourt. So I decided to take the motorbike on my way back for 2,000 kyats. Back in my hotel room, I settled to drinking milk tea and eating biscuits.

Day 6 – August 26, 2015

As planned, I left my bed very early to kick start my morning tour around Mandalay’s tourist destinations. I hailed and rode a motorbike to get to the palace’s entrance early, as I was informed that it would open to foreigners at 5am. I arrived there at 6am but I was still refused entry; 7am yet, the guards on duty said.

So I redirected to other sites and headed for Mandalay Hill when I noticed its peak glimmering so bright and so inviting. Because of its proximity to my spot, I decided to stroll towards it and noticed plenty of things to see. There is Sandamuni Pagoda to my right, Mandalay Bo Bo Gyi Nat (Spirit) Shrine to my left, Kuthodaw Pagoda to my far right. But I headed straight to the Shweyattaw Buddha Pavilion up the Mandalay Hill. I settled unto one spot atop a boulder and marveled at the magnificence of the city below me, even the entire Royal Palace is visible up there. It was too early that most shopkeepers just busied themselves to ready for the day’s business. The temple probably was still closed to visitors but the attendants if there were any were still asleep. So I climbed up the hill, the pavilion undeterred or undetected. Being on top of a wonderful world really summed up my city tour and I left very satisfied.

I booked my taxi to the Mandalay International Airport through the hotel for 4,000 kyats, a seat to be shared with other guests. The driver picked me up at about 10am and I was glad it was that late because when I arrived at the airport, all passengers were crowding the outside lobby. I later knew that the check in counters and the pre-departure areas open on schedules; ours only opened at 11am. I paid 5USD for the terminal fee and then after a while I was off to Bangkok, Thailand.

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