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Mandalay Temples and Stunning U-Bein bridge

We rental half decent bicycles and got the tires pumped up. Then we headed for 62nd street. We passed the walls and moat that now hosted a military/government activity as well as a museum. We enjoyed the teak Shwenadaw Kyawk from the outside to avoid giving all our cash to the government. There was a white and gold pyramid-like building behind it too with a tuktuk full of Burmese people going inside.


We continued to Kuthodaw Paya which contained 729 marble stone slabs from the Tripitaka texts, featuring Buddha's wisdom orally passed on for hundreds of years until they were transcribed around the 1st century BCE. In 1859, King Mindon had this temple and Sandmuni, which contained double the stones, built. He also had monks recite the books non-stop and it took them six months! Later the British would occupy this site until a Burmese appeal to the Queen's promise to respect religions under her rule had them moved elsewhere, and then much of the gold and significant items would be discovered looted.


Inside there were slabs encased in bright white mini temples and dispersed in rows that surrounded the whole golden pagoda. We weren't able to visit all the stones, which was alright given that we couldn't read the Burmese script.


We stopped at Sandmuni temple which was quite similar to Kuthodaw except the book housing temples were much closer together. The area was also much less busy. We found a few cute kittens with big gremlin eyes I just had to photograph. They were hiding out on the cool floor near the shade. The gray one wanted the most attention and it wasn't we received by its siblings.


We skirted another parking lot fee by going elsewhere and then just walking up to the stairs to Mandalay Hill. The climb featured temples, shops and obscured turns that led us to believe we'd arrived several times before we actually did.


The view of the palace moat was really neat and from further up, we spotted a golf course of all things. The view, which they charged foreigners to photograph, was really quite average. Luckily if they only charge at the very top and if you don't use your camera, you don't have to pay. With so many steps on the way up our free vantage points weren't terribly different.


On the way down, we took a wrong turn which we should have noted seeing the unfamiliar heart and garden photo studio. But we got to see the lion guardians in the end. The walk to the bikes was short enough even at the wrong entrance.


A longer ride to Marie-Min, an Indian vegetarian restaurant, followed. It had a cozy second floor balcony. We ordered coconut milk curries, potato and tamarind for Ryan and veggie for me. I also splurged on a tasty papaya shake.

Sri Ganesh Hindu temple was closed when we went but we could still see the bright Hindu influence. We continued to the monasteries. Ma Soe Yein Nu Kyuang had a clock tower and a taller tower by the river. Some of the supporters of ethnic clashes and suppressing minority rights in Burma stayed here. We didn't stay long and found Shwe In Byin Kyaung, a teak monastery under renovation. There were many beautiful carvings in the doors, eaves and roof.


With our clock ticking, we steeled ourselves for the long ride to U-Thein bridge. Riding on the main highway was quite intimidating, but after twenty minutes, a miraculous separate bike and motorbike lane appeared. It was wide and separated by a boulevard. That ride was far more enjoyable.

Using Google Maps in Amarapura, we found another road leading to the bridge. The road cut off partway, but a woman directed us past the railroad track and garbage patch to a paved road.

Along the road, the stunning green fields stretched to the beautiful river. We turned toward the bridge near a town and shops to find our way to the bridge. We parked underneath it, grabbed water from a vendor and began our walk across.


The plan was to walk the bridge and back and take off before sunset. We marvelled at the fishermen in knee deep water, children splashing and playing and the general calmness of the bridge patrons.


We met a monk along the way who wanted to practise his English. He was from Bhama but had been living in Mandalay for ten years. He was twenty one and enjoyed soccer. At the monastery they would play every day and they even had teams and a league to play other monasteries.


When Ryan asked about his orange robe, different than the red ones which were common in Myanmar, he explained that Buddha said that they could wear any colour they liked. Right now he had the weekend to go out and visit sites like U-Bein to find foreigners to practise his English with. His English teacher was Burmese.


We sped walked to the end before retracing our steps. There were certainly more foreigners at the opposite end, some in high priced boats that looked nice in pictures and others running to the middle island for their sunset photos. We joined the latter right as the sun made its grand escape between the pillars of the teak bridge.


There was still some light to bike along the shore and rice fields, past soccer games and to the main road. Even with street lights, the ride back was stressful and long. Spring rolls and Star cola relaxed us when we could finally eat supper.


Posted by Sarah.M 06:18 Archived in Myanmar Tagged mandalay mandalay_hill u-bein_birdge marie_min shwe_in_byin_kyaung kuthodaw sandmuni

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