Sunday, November 19, 2017

One Day in Mandalay

Monkey Man on top of Mandalay
Trying to be bon-vivant travelers, ones who could change directions without the tethers of tickets and schedules, we have been booking as we go. Airfare and Hotels. Mostly it has worked out. In Mandalay, however, the days blended together like a passion fruit lassi. Turns out, we had only one day there.

Doorway in the Royal Palace
Could be for the best. Karma be like that. On the ride to the hotel, after our boat trip, Primo and Prima kept remarking how much this city was like India. The traffic, the people, the noise and the smell, Oh My! Certainly not the first impression that Yangon imparted.

Yep, I could live like this
We have splurged on a top-notch hotel, The Bagan King. Big rooms, soft sheets, hot water and cocktails on the roof. In the lobby are statues of Burmese Royalty and Warriors – one fierce warrior wears duck slippers. Nothing says “be afraid” like a man wearing duck slippers!

Duck Slippers
We’re very tired and make the mistake of ordering American Food at the rooftop restaurant. Unless you are going to Burger King in Asia, don’t bother ordering the Burger anywhere, ever.
Primo and Prima are leaving late the next day. We agree not to go anywhere early, so we can recover from yesterday’s 4am wake up call. We meet at breakfast. For what the restaurant failed in hamburger-land last night, they totally made up in coffee-land this morning. Real brewed coffee. WOW! Real milk, WOW!

View from the Royal Palace
The manager comes by our table. His brother lives in Indiana and is a catholic priest who left the country in the late 60’s. He has not seen him since he left Myanmar and doubts that he ever will.
We find another great driver lurking outside of the hotel. Mr. Amo, has a van-which is fabu, as Prima doesn’t have to straddle the divide of the backseat while we tour. We have limited time, so it’s first to the Royal Palace, which now houses most of the army. At the front gate there is a sign, “Tatmadaw and the people, cooperate and crush all those harming the union.” Well, alrighty then, we definitely not try and harm the union today.

Mazel Tov!
Arriving at the Palace grounds, we meet a wedding party. The bride and groom graciously pose with us for pictures. I want her hair, badly.
The Palace needs some tender loving care. It’s hard to know if it’s a money issue or the junta’s bid not to celebrate the old kingdoms regime. It’s probably for the best, as we have much territory to cover today in a short amount of time. No time to linger.
Not really Golden
Next, we are whisked off to the Golden Palace which is not really Golden. It is a teak Monastery, unpainted and elaborately carved. It has been dismantled and reassembled twice before finding it’s final home in Mandalay. It’s smaller that the other temples we have visited recently but because of the carving, I could stay here longer. Women are not allowed in the actual shrine, where the Buddha sits.

I got in anyway.
On the way to the top of Mandalay Mountain, Mr. Amo, who by the way speaks lovely English, asks us what we think of Trump. This conversation comes up often, so we drive up the mountain, having a lively conversation while the engine works to climb the steep grade.
Peace out!
Su Taung Pyai Pagoda is at the top of the mountain. We ride 3 very suspect escalators to the top but arrive alive. Gorgeous views abound. I am attacked by the Temple Cat, but survive and wonder if it is the reincarnation of Trixie or Bob saying hello. 

Deadly Temple Cat on the Prowl
In the afternoon, we bid Adieu to the wonderful Primo and Prima, until we meet again in Cha Am.
Water is a right

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