Myanmar – Mandalay, Ubehn bridge & Irrawaddy river cruise.

road_to_mandalay

Well, Kipling’s Poem begins with the line “On the road to Mandalay” and that’s how this leg of our journey began.

glass

After a couple of hours on the bus we had a refreshment stop.

It’s fun when I’m travelling and I see things that remind me of my youth in Manchester.

It’s almost certainly illegal now, but when I was about 10 it was quite common to see pieces of broken bottle cemented onto the top of the wall to stop burglars/vandals.

On the wall surrounding our stop, they obviously still do.

dinner

We arrived quite late in our hotel, were able to have a candle lit dinner.

Well of course we did, the electricity had gone off, the the kitchen staff were cooking with lanterns and torches.

bridge1

In the morning, were up really early to see the famous U Bein bridge.

With just a series of wooden uprights, planted into mud, I was amazed at how stable it was.

bridge2

The bridge just as the sun was rising.

This was also important, as this isn’t just a tourist attraction, tens of thousands of people use this bridge every day to go to work, visit friends, collect groceries and suchlike.

bridge3

The other incredible thing about it, is its length.

At 1.2 kilometres, its the longest teak-wood bridge in the world.

boarding

After some breakfast, we head out to board our boat.

It was exciting walking along a thin plank, and I couldn’t see a health and safety officer anywhere around.

boat_mooring

Our boat was very comfortable, with a shaded seating area on the top to relax and a dining area bellow.

We set off, and after an hour or 2, we arrived on the other side of the river to visit Saggaing Hill.

bus_market

We were driving up the hill, in this minibus.

As we passed a small market, I asked if we could stop, and I was able to get some cooking equipment at a very competitive price.

monks

From here, we visited the Mya Sekkya Monastery.

We were allowed to go inside, but the monks were having their lunch, so I just took a picture from outside the door.

Later we were shown around their library. It had lots of interesting books (but then most books are interesting to me !).

Especially interesting was the magazine section which featured several copies of Private Eye (but sadly, no copies of Viz).

boat_dinner

After a busy morning we head back to the boat for lunch and a few cold beers.

As we eat, our boat heads for Mingun.

taxi

No minibus when we arrive this time, transport is a bit more basic (but with entrepreneurial flair).

skirt

Skirts are worn in Burma by both men and women.

Kay takes us to a shop where we can buy them, and while there, shows us the different styles with which they can be worn.

bell

Still more stuff to see, the Mingun Bell.

It’s the largest functioning bell in the world. It’s the 2nd largest bell by size and weight after the Tsar Bell I saw in the Kremlin.

You could actually climb underneath and stand inside it (I wouldn’t want to do that while it was being rung !).

white

Shinphyume pagoda modelled on the sacred Buddhist mount Meru.

The 7 levels, represent the 7 sacred mountain ranges.

big

Mingun Pahtodawgyi

An unfinished pagoda. More of a tourist attraction now, listed in the Guinness book of records as the largest “brick pile” in the world.

The earthquake of 1839 caused huge cracks in the building. Although there is a walkway to the top it’s not recommended.

ele

The huge stone “Elephant” statue.

boat_sleep

And with that, our adventure is over.

As we sailed back, everyone had an afternoon nap.

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