Mandalay 2

Mandalay is the cultural centre of Myanmar. It’s smallish for its great importance, about a million people.

It’s also on the Irrawaddy, one of the great rivers of SE Asia. In fact, in the same way as most of Laos drains into the Mekong, same here with the Irrawaddy and Myanmar. Both countries are giant river drainages. So cool.

The Irrawaddy is packed with activity in areas because Myanmar is 53 million people strong. The Mekong however is different and seems so alien, unworldly, because Laos only has 6 million people along its length. But they feel like the same scale of water, same colour, same speed, lazy and powerful, somehow both have a mystical presence. Both have unique species of rarely seen fresh water dolphins. I love our Fraser River worldwide best (because I’m scrappily partisan) but by comparison it’s an anxious trickle down a raincoat.

Here’s an intro story from Mandalay. The guy below is Myanmar’s Mingun Sayadaw

So tempting to call him the dude, see below pic, but he was.

He was so ferociously intelligent he memorized the entire 16,000 page Adhidharma, an extreme case of eidetic memory. He was challenged and tested by a jury of 5 Thai monks and others. Naturally his accomplishments amounted to more than that. The fellow was recent, he died in 1993. Now, since memorizing the entire text has been proven possible, 28 other monks have accomplished it, so Soe tells me

We did a day of temples. This is the Kuthodaw Pagoda. For the facts, here’s the Kuthodaw Pagoda Wiki

It’s spectacular

There are 730 of these neatly arranged structures sequentially contains the Buddha verses

Monks come from all Buddhist nations to take pics and selfies

Cambodia in this case

That yellowish paste that you see on most faces is Thanaka. It’s a Myanmar thing. Here’s how you make it, you abrade a plant section on a semi-polished stone to create a very fine liquid. They have a few of these stations at Kuthodaw

A girl paints her boyfriend/husband

Later, my river curiosity takes us down to where scooters have ridden down to the bank

Like this, to fish

After that, a visit to a remarkable wooden pagoda, below. For more on this go to the Bagaya Monastery Wiki

It’s made completely of teak and super detailed

This cuts the tourist trade by 50%


Back to the river to go upstream to see another couple. I only want to do about 10 temples/pagodas in Myanmar, I’d rather be in the countryside, but Mandalay is the city to see them (however the greatest of them all, the King of temples, the one to see, is a day or two ahead)

The epic Irrawaddy

Down to the ‘docks’

We’ve hired a private boat, about $30. Don’t need the manual handrail, but it’s a nice touch

Mingun, a King’s attempt to build the largest structure in Myanmar, later badly damaged by earthquake. Huge and impressive

And this exquisite pagoda, go here Hsinbyume Wiki

But back to the important stuff

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