The beauty of writing about a place after you’ve been is that looking through your pictures and your notes enables to you relive the aggregate of your experiences one more time. The problem with Burma? There are just so many stories and pictures that I want to share that I’ve been entrapped within the vastness of my own memories. This was my initial problem in writing about my first weeks in the country: so much depth to what you can see and do and feel and eat that you don’t know where to begin.
More than anything, I think the pictures speak for themselves. I’ll be posting a series of photo essays from in and around Mandalay: climbing Mandalay Hill, the gold leaf and weaving shops, the famous U Bein teak bridge near Amarapura and my favourite of all the sights in the city, the tiny Shwe in Bein monastery, lovingly carved out of teak and tucked away in a quiet corner near the jade market. While Mandalay is not as visited as Bagan or Inle Lake, its history as the last capital before the monarchy fell made it a fascinating place to visit. Staring at the palace from outside its huge moat, I couldn’t help but imagine the sequence of events that led to Mandalay’s fall.
Mandalay Hill is easily my preferred vantage point for the area around the former capital city. From the Irawaddy snaking through the land below to the bright, beautiful sun setting against the faint hills in the distance, it is a perfect way to start exploring of Mandalay.
The entrance to the stairway is protected by two Chinthes, huge leogryphs that often guard temples or pagodas in Southeast Asia. The Chinthe is also on the Kyat, Burma’s official currency.
Two giant Chinthes guarding the gates to Mandalay Hill.
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