A new country, a new experience!
Stepping on another country creates excitement to heart and feet. Mandalay International Airport has a nice roofing, it prepared what Myanmar would offer in the following days.
There is a free shuttle bus form the airport to the center of town. The ride was about 40 minutes and as I neared the city I can see the many motorcycles plying the streets of Mandalay, also monks on orange and red robes all over.
Wrong meal and free tea
As it was already past lunch, the very first time I did was to sat down on the nearest open restaurant I saw. The menu was in the local language with a poorly translated English caption. I believe I ordered chicken and fried rice but was given what looks like shanghai rolls. I poured the tea which is always available on every table for free. My stomach was upset and so I have to leave and look for the hotel my travel partner reserved.
I walked around until I found the Hotel and climbed until the 5th floor to see Callie.
We had some rough plans like going to Mandalay Hill for the sunset, U Bein Bridge at sunrise and then spend the rest of the second day visiting monasteries, weaving shops and local fresh market to have that off-the-beaten-path feel in our itinerary.
We were lucky to find a cool fat motorbike driver who brought us to all the spots above, always laughing and making sure that we are safe, his name is Wednesday. And he is always there waiting for us to leave the hotel.
Mandalay Hill Sunset
There were two humongous white tiger sculptures on the entrance to Mandalay Hill, vendors selling flowers, water and incense sticks flock tourists to buy something before starting the climb. I passed them all and started to count the steps up.
Sometimes we stop to take a photo of Buddha, pagoda or something we find interesting like the scary figures of ill people on the steps. The route was with locals living in small quarters who made a living by selling water or souvenirs for tourists visiting the site.
At one point we stopped to play with the local kids who were watching us. We tickled them and threw them into the air so they came down laughing out loud.
Mandalay Hill’s crowd mostly came via the shortcut on a taxi or minibuses. At the top there is a viewing deck where you need to pay 1,000kyats (1US$ or Php43.50) for every piece of camera you bring. Since we don’t like the idea of that we contended ourselves to just view the sunset from the mezzanine, less touristy too. What I love about this place are the arches laden with cut glasses that reflect the sun making it magical and golden. I was somehow transported to heaven looking down you it will take your breath away.
Watching the sunset with Callie was different. I was so enamored by sunrises and sunsets but this time it was different. I remember the famous quote from Ibn Battuta, “Traveling; it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” This quote came alive while I was staring at the setting sun over Mandalay.
We went back to our hotel and get ready to wake up early for the U Bein Bridge sunrise the next day.