Mandalay was founded in 1857 by King Mindon, replacing Amarapura as the new royal capital of the Konbaung dynasty. It was Burma's final royal capital before the kingdom's annexation by the British Empire in 1885. Under British rule, Mandalay remained commercially and culturally important despite the rise of Yangon, the new capital of British Burma. The city suffered extensive destruction during the Japanese conquest of Burma in the Second World War. In 1948, Mandalay became part of the newly independent Union of Burma.
Today, Mandalay is the economic centre of Upper Myanmar and considered the centre of Burmese culture. A continuing influx of Chinese immigrants, mostly from Yunnan, in the past 20 years, has reshaped the city's ethnic makeup and increased commerce with China. Despite Naypyidaw's recent rise, Mandalay remains Upper Burma's main commercial, educational and health centre.
There was simply far to much to see in Mandalay and even though it is the countries second largest city, it does not have the large city feel that Yangon has. There is still a lot of the old world charm as in Bagan and city is filled with tree lined streets. I stayed on the third floor of Hotel A1, so this gave me a great view of most of the area I was staying.
I decided to hire a tuk tuk and driver for the day to make it easier to get around. The guy was fantastic and new a lot about Mandalay, however English is his second language so it was difficult at times to understand what he was saying. The price for the day was $25000 kyats or $25 nzd, which is great value as he picked me up at 9am and dropped me back at 6pm
Shweinbin Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Mandalay, Myanmar, built in the tradition of Burmese teak architecture. The monastery was built in 1895 by a Spanish-Burmese merchant married to a Burmese woman of royal extraction.
Mahagandhayon Monastery is the country's most prominent monastic college. The monaster is known for its strict adherence to the Vinaya, the Buddhist monastic code.
I am not sure what was happening here as when we arrived we got escorted to the entrance of a huge eating hall, there were literally hundreds of people trying to get a glimpse of the highest monk eating his lunch, which I found a little bizarre. The Chinese people in particular were pushing each other trying to get photos.
Sagaing is the capital of Sagaing Region and located by the Irrawaddy River, 20 km to the south-west of Mandalay on the opposite bank of the river, Sagaing, with numerous Buddhist monasteries is an important religious and monastic centre.
This place had the biggest statue I have seen so far, although it was lying down but measured around 58 metres long. There was also a huge Pagoda.
Took a look inside a silk factory that showed you from the silk worm stage through to harvesting the silk and then dying and using the cotton. The factory was fairly small but was very sparse. I can`t imagine sitting at one of these machines all day taking up to 20 days to finish one garment. They sit there from 9am - 5pm.
SAGAING HILL & SOON OO PONYA SHIN PAGODA
This hill has numerous pagodas, monasteries and meditation centers known as a peacefule place for Buddhist studies. It is a place one can enjoy the magnificent views over Sagaing Myanmar.
The Soon Oo Ponya Shin Pagoda is located on the top of the Sagaing Hill. It is one of the oldest temples on Sagaing Hill and was built in 1312 by Minister Pon Nya.
Sagaing Hill is very well known and respected in Mandalay but getting to the top of this pagoda up the many steps in the 32 degree heat, lets just say I was drenched.
Here is a picture of the very first part of the climb to the top, the full climb is about 25 minutes or more and this shows it on the way down but gives you and idea.
This is the tuk tuk that I spent the day exploring Mandalay in, they don`t go fast but they can weave through most of the traffic when needed.
This was just before the top of the pagoda. I am not sure if it was used to wash or for something else.
And finally, here are some pictures showing the view from the top.
Inwa is an ancient city near Mandalay, in central Myanmar. It's known for religious structures left over from several reigns as the nation's capital, from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Dominating these is the Bagaya Kyaung, a 19th-century working monastery made of teak. The large, brick-and-stucco Maha Aungmye Bonzan monastery dates back to the 1800s.
To access Inwa, you have to travel from one side of the river to the other by long boat. It only takes about 3-4 minutes and costs $1500 kyats ($1.50 nzd) for a return trip and you buy youboat ticket from this ticket office.
Once you are there you will need to climb aboard a horse and cart. A guide will then expertly navigate the horse and cart around to all the historical places and it costs $15000 kyats or $15 nzd for about 3 hours.
The Bagaya Monastery (Bagaya Kyaung – Kyaung is Burmese for Monastery) is one of the most popular tourist stops in Inwa (Ava), Mandalay. Built around 1835 it is built on and around over 260 massive teak logs.
Set amidst rice paddies this picturesque five tired metal red roofed teak wooden monastery is still in daily use today.
YADANA HSEMEE PAGODA COMPLEX
The site of the deserted Palace of Ava is now marked by a solitary masonry 27 metre high watchtower, an example of early 19th century Burmese architecture. It is all that remains of the stately Palace reared by King Bagyidaw.
A TYPICAL HOUSE IN INWA
THE STREETS IN INWA
An finally after leaving Inwa, I went to the U Bein Bridge which is believed to be the worlds oldest and longest teak wood foot bridge. It spans the Taungthaman Lake and is 1.2 kms long. The best time is to get there for sunset but you will have to contend with bus loads of Chinese tourists.
After a very large day yesterday, I decided to have a slightly easier day today. I made one trip to the Dee Doke Waterfall that I had geard was pretty nice. It was a 1.5 hour trip to get there and once you are there the sign says it will take about 25 minutes through the bush and up a fairly easy climb that most people who can walk in a straight light will be able to handle. I followed the signs and eventually got to a small waterfall that was very unimpressive but did enable me to get some nice shots of the surrounding scenery.
I thought I had travelled for nearly 2 hours for this? (it does get better, I promise). Once I had taken sufficient photos I climbed back the way I came and got back to the sign at half way and noticed the track split off and went in another direciion up the hill. I wondered what was in this direction, so I wandered up the track for as far as I could go, about 20 minutes and I found this. Definitely worth the effort.