January 25

I spent a week trying to put this trip together by myself (as I have done oh so many times before) but this time the transportation was just not working out easily so I contacted four local agencies recommended by Trip Advisor with details of my plan. Myanmar Delight replied with the most clear understanding of my ideas and I have been very pleased working with them throughout. They arranged a private car and driver, accommodations, and a sightseeing plan.

I arrived in Yangon airport on time and passed through formalities very easily and there they were, my friend Merlyn and our driver ready to take off for our first outings in Myanmar.

Today's program (after picking me up at the airport): "Drive to visit the downtown area with colonial style buildings. Have a look at Sule Pagoda, Maha Bandhuhla Park and City Hall, the visit Chauk Htet Gyi reclining Buddha and in the evening visit the Great Shwedagon Pagoda. Transfer to Mother Land Inn (2) to overnight in Yangon."

I'm going to write in the program for each day and you'll see the variations as we go along.

Mother Land Inn (Two) was a comfortable, clean, pleasant accommodation in the guesthouse/backpacker tradition. It's on a very busy and rather unfavorable street but that didn't matter for us since we were in late and out early.
We were driving from the airport and I got gaga after about 5 seconds. We passed a large complex called Kaba Aye Pagoda, Kaba Aye meaning World Peace and how could we not stop to look inside the World Peace Pagoda?!

Built in 1952, the walls are covered in mosaics of mirror making the whole interior glisten like a jewel.
Our actual first destination was Chauk Htat Gyi (Chaukhtatgui) Pagoda to view the giant reclining Buddha of Yangon...
...with Merlyn, usually the biggest guy in the room. Lonely Planet says the Buddha is 70 yards long.
Next stop: Shwedagon Zedi Daw also known as the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda.

The main stupa is being refreshed so that cuts into the volume of visible gold.

According to LP this monument "is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf and thousands of diamonds and other gems, and believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former Buddhas."
Wiki says: "Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa. These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇâgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama."
Men and women separately moved in these groups, many groups working at the same time, constantly walking in a circle sweeping the ground. There are no shoes or sox allowed.
So many colors of gold.
Hi cuties.
A large crowd assembled in the plaza here to pray and give donations.
Our first meal! We chose the main dishes from a buffet and then were served the tray of garnishes, soup, and rice. We ate lamb meat balls, spicy chicken curry, and sautéed vegetables. It was all delicious.
We had a drive through the center of Yangon to see the, (according to legend) 2500 year old Sule Pagoda. It's located in the middle of a major traffic circle where you can also find City Hall and The Independence Monument in Maha Bandula Park.
January 26

Today's program: "Yangon to Kyaikhtiyo. Breakfast at the hotel then drive to Kyaikhtiyo, about 4 hours from Yangon. Arrive at Kinpun base camp and take the public open truck ride up the mountain to Golden Rock Pagoda. Overnight at Golden Sunrise hotel in Kyaikhtiyo base camp."

Since internet research is so problematic here in Myanmar my story at this point is just this and that that I can remember. Check back in later for some fun facts!

We left Yangon with the dawn and I have about 100 traffic scenes out the car window. I'll spare you.
Once we hit the countryside it was evident how much of Myanmar is agricultural, always with a temple in view.
The Taukkyan War Cemetery, 1939-1945, a cemetery for Allied soldiers from the British Commonwealth.

Historical information from the cwgc.org website: "TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Myanmar. It was begun in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefield cemeteries at Akyab, Mandalay, Meiktila and Sahmaw which were difficult to access and could not be maintained. The last was an original 'Chindit' cemetery containing many of those who died in the battle for Myitkyina. The graves have been grouped together at Taukkyan to preserve the individuality of these battlefield cemeteries

"Burials were also transferred from civil and cantonment cemeteries, and from a number of isolated jungle and roadside sites. Because of prolonged post-war unrest, considerable delay occurred before the Army Graves Service were able to complete their work, and in the meantime many such graves had disappeared. However, when the task was resumed, several hundred more graves were retrieved from scattered positions throughout the country and brought together here."
We had the place to ourselves until two busloads of Brits showed up.
We passed through many busy towns full of people of every strip doing business and going about their lives.
I got so excited to see these bamboo bridges that we had to stop...
...in a bend in the river where there were a few houses with gardens and various animals and...
Here are the fish drying on elevated mats, and there were stands all along the road selling these very fish.
A Buddhist nun.
Our hotel for the second night. I haven't told about the hotels yet but it's coming! As well as a recap of the travel agency we used to make these arrangements.
Our smiling driver saying goodbye for our trip up to the Golden Rock. Next to him is the guy who was shoehorning people into...
...these trucks. More more more people until you could not possibly add another person, and then they added five more.
Golden Rock Pagoda also called Mt Kyaiktiyo is one of those super-pilgrimage sites, where the rock balances there on that overhang on a strand of Buddha's hair.

There's a long story which the internet will be happy to tell you.
It says "Ladies Are Not Allowed To Enter."

I just read that Golden Rock is the third most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar after the Shwedagon Pagoda which we already saw in Yangon, and the Mahamuni Pagoda which we'll get to see in Mandalay.
This is the only picture I have to give an idea of how high we have traveled in such a short distance. Those trucks that you saw a picture of before were hauling all those people up roads at a 90 degree angle. It was an E-Ticket ride for sure.
Young men playing their version of hacky-sack except with a woven plastic ball. We've seen it around in many places so it must be a thing.

There's a formal kick-ball/volleyball-like game they play called chin lone in Myanmar and sepak takaraw in other places in SE Asia, that uses this kind of ball only made of rattan instead of plastic. Maybe this ball was rattan and not plastic! The internet told me. Maybe they were practicing.
We need to figure out what it was they were making and then eat some of it.
We need to find this again too!
January 27

Today's program: "Kyaikhtivo to Pindaya. Breakfast at the hotel then drive about 12 hours to Pindaya and transfer to Golden Cave Hotel."

Yikes! A lot of people fly this leg but it takes about all day anyway even if you fly because the airports are not so near where you want to be and I thought why not see something while we're at it.
A street view.
Our driver asked us if we wanted to taste 'ice potato'. Of course we do. Here he is negotiating with one of the roadside vendors.
Then he just pulled the outside off and we ate it. It tasted like jicama.

You saw the pictures of the catching/drying/selling fish yesterday. There are also a TON of watermelon crops and stands by the road. Bananas too, and many other single-item stands of whatever is growing in the fields at the time.

I am very impressed with the food in general - what you can get to eat in the restaurants and markets and by the side of the road.
A lot of construction would stop traffic or we'd be diverted for a little around something like this.
At what we would think of as a truck stop, these bowls are sitting on a dish with water that's sitting on a charcoal brazier steaming up some eggs and other tasty treats.
What always seems to happen.
All we saw of the capital city, Naypyidaw, was many of these giant traffic circles, all with giant flowers surrounded by giant decorations, and no other cars.

It's not a very long story since construction on this planned city didn't begin until 2002, but it seems it's political and sensitive and our driver had nothing to say on the matter.
Sharing the road with crossing cows.
We drove for many hours in the mountains. They grow teak here, such a valuable crop that takes so long to become valuable. Many of the most impressive pagodas are made of teak.
Going home from the fields maybe?
There is so much agriculture and we are in the burning season when the rice fields are being prepared for the next planting. You get the same kind of smoke and dust in the air when driving on I5 in the burning season.

We arrived at our destination after dark, ate, and went to sleep. It was cold!
January 28

Today's program: "Pindaya to Inle Lake/Nyaung Shwe. Breakfast at the hotel then visit Pindaya and the Pindaya Caves which houses thousands of Buddha images and then visit a local Shan paper and umbrella making business. After that drive to Nyaung Shwe, a town which is the gateway to Inle Lake. Transfer to Golden House Hotel."

We were very high here and it was cold. Wear-all-the-clothes-you-brought cold.
You could rent bikes from the hotel and various places around all the towns. It is a very popular activity and some people ride from place to place for days.
Arriving at the Pindaya Caves just a few minutes from our hotel. That's Merlyn and the driver feeling the nip in the air.
Wow on the archer and the spider. Yes, we rode the elevator up.
It's a huge cave with room after room after room covered in golden Buddhas.
Merlyn, getting his shot.
There are many places set up for prayer.

The Buddhas all have signs and from the few in English it seems they are showing the name of the person who made a donation. Let's suppose the bigger the Buddha the bigger the donation?
He was different and held a place of honor far far back, in the complex of rooms.
These are covered steps you can use to walk to some of the temples further out from the caves and also you can walk up one to the main entrance but we rode the elevator.
That's our driver in the plaid shirt, waiting patiently.

Merlyn is on a mission to get the perfect picture of a particular kind of truck and a few were parked here. We just learned today, many days later, that they call that truck the Chinese buffalo because it comes from China, you can hook the front up to any kind of back, and it does all the work on the farms. I'll get a couple of his shots and put them here.
I wandered over here...I've seen this image a few times now but I don't know who she is.
Making paper from mulberry bark...
...from pounding the pulp to setting up for the paper to dry...
...and then we saw all the bamboo mechanisms hand made with all hand made tools to put the umbrella together. They fold the edges of the paper over on itself and glue it with persimmon glue.

It was interesting despite being a basic shopping opportunity which Merlyn took to good advantage.
Maybe Merlyn took a picture of the sign because if not I don't know the name of this monastery but it is a very unique one.
You can't see in the picture above but kids were sitting in all those windows.
We are getting the idea of what it means when you go into a restaurant that says 'Myanmar food' somewhere on its sign.

This one was the best so far and it all poured out of...
...this kitchen, all put together by this woman.

Her English was excellent so we got to hear wonderful stories of how all this came to be. She runs cooking classes out of this kitchen too!

I have her name and will add it when I find the business card.
We were walking down the road and passed the Cultural Museum and decided to have a look.

It's really not much inside but worth it to see the building itself - brick and teak that once housed the last Shan.
This was Merlyn's choice of street food to try. He's been all up for trying anything! The family, we learned, set up this in front of their house for the girl to run but as soon as a customer showed up mom and dad came out to take care of things.

They ran the food through the hot oil before handing it over in a small plastic bag with some red sauce and sticks to eat it with. Merlyn said it was perfectly tasty.
January 29

Really, this is an insane number of pictures for one day.

Today's program: "Inle Lake/Nyaung Shwe. Breakfast at the hotel then go sightseeing by boat to the Intha people who mostly inhabit the lakeshores and floating villages, including a chance to see the leg-rowing fishermen, the floating gardens, built up from strips of wather hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Then continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, a weaving village of Impawkon, and Nga Pe Chaung monastery which was built 15 years earlier than Mandalay Royal Palace. Transfer back to Golden House Hotel and overnight in Nyaung Shwe."

Breakfast at the hotel in their back garden looking out over families doing the wash.
Local and international tourists gather here to get their boat for a trip up this small tributary into the lake proper.
Looking toward the lake.

Notice the comfy chairs. We had a boat to ourselves which was quite the luxury.
The first and only time our driver wore pants. I'll talk about the weather when I can look up the details - elevation etc.
A still quiet morning until...
...these guys swarm the tourist boats. They fish with those baskets but he made this pose and then rushed up to the boat, threw a leg over the side and asked for money. Be prepared.
There are entire villages with houses, markets, restaurants, temples, everything you need built on stilts in the lake.
A temple and shopping opportunity.
We were two in a boat enjoying our lounge chairs. This is how the local people tour the lake.

I had got myself out on a Very rickety and narrow bridge with no handrail to take this picture. By the time I had inched my way nearly back these guys had jumped out of the boat and came on to the bridge to offer me a hand. It was so sweet!
It must take a lot of effort to keep the buildings from falling down, and there seemed to be a lot of repair work happening throughout the day. It looks like fresh paint here.
She is showing us how they make thread from the goop that you can pull out of a lotus stem. It was fascinating.

They weave from the lotus thread and the products are 10 times more expensive than a similar item made from silk. They also weave silk and cotton and often in patterns that include two or three of the lotus, silk, and cotton.
Lotus thread: now is not the best time for the lotus we learned, the rainy season is better, but they still have enough to make thread for this purpose.

First you cut the stem into a 6" or so section, then snap the section in half and gently pull the two halves apart so that the goopy thread-like bit will lay on the work bench overlapping some with the last time you pulled. Then you roll the new wet bit like you'd roll bread dough into the existing bit making the thread get longer and longer.

You can see it coiling up in the bowl near the bottom in the middle. After the thread is rolled it is spun to make it even and then woven. The color can be added before or after the weaving.
The large building on the left houses all the weavers from the above picture. It was very active.

Can you guess, to the right were buildings where...
...you could have a rest with some tea and peanuts or watch the kids play a kind of carroms. And where you could go...

Shopping! We thought everything looked great. Merlyn spent a good chunk of time pouring through the options and came away a happy man. That's him with his bulging bag.
Another view, just cruising along.
I was a little surprised at the number and size of the temples built on the lake, all offering shopping opportunities.

It seemed the things on offer were of fine quality, design, and variety. As well as the local specialty handcrafts, there were many manufactured items imported from China and Thailand.
Oh my goodness, another one. And there are so many more that I didn't choose.
At Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Merlyn likes shopping.
A traditional arts demonstration of silver work and a lovely store.
A farmhouse.
You can see some of the squash hanging down from the bamboo structure. I've mentioned before how impressed we are with all the fresh fruits and vegetables available in such abundance.
Working the fields.
This community had a number of these large water-streets with houses on both sides.

It's a huge lake and many unique groups live around and on it.
That bowl is full of tobacco. They grow a lot of tobacco in Myanmar and make their cigarettes, actually small cigars, by hand.

Have you noticed, I haven't been complaining about the smoking! Once in a while it's a problem but not enough to dread. Amazing. The betel chewing and spitting is another matter.
Hpaung Daw U Pagoda. These five images were originally recognizable Buddhas but have been so covered in gold leaf by the faithful (faithful men since women are not allowed) that they have become what you see here now.
Monks seem to really enjoy taking pictures at these sites. They take pictures of each other and they do selfies too.
Heading back...
...the guides throw food up in the air to encourage the seagulls to follow the boats home.
Dinner at the restaurant run by the sister from last night's place. (I'll get the names!) We didn't know that until we got there as we also didn't know that it's the top rated restaurant in Lonely Planet.

The food was very similar and delicious too but a very different vibe as this place is big with a large staff and packed with the Lonely Planet crowd.

That's a photo of Aung San Suu Kyi, perhaps the first thing of even a slightly political nature that I've seen since we got here. There is practically no police or military presence either. We might have seen something like a policeman managing a traffic situation or a guy in a military uniform hangout out with his family.

((Update from February 3rd...not exactly...))
Our driver's friend who lives here and took us for a little complimentary drive out into the country.
January 30

Today's plan: "Inle Lake to Kalaw to Bagan. Breakfast at the hotel then drive for 7 hours to reach Bagan and en route visit Kalaw market, Bamboo Thread Pagoda and proceed straight to Bagan. Arrive and transfer Kumudra Hotel to overnight in Bagan."

By the way, Bagan is pronounced baGAn.

Kalaw is an interesting town as the kick-off point for trekkers and their market was my favorite - clean, bright, fresh, and full of tasty treats. They had all the other market items too including household supplies, clothes, trinkets, they had it all.
This is a monastery and my new favorite image. The driver called it a hinda but I can't find any reference. It could be the Myanmar version of the garuda

Did I tell this yet? A stupa you can't go into, a temple you can go into, and both are pagodas.
Another set of caves.
Men and women and sometimes boys and girls too, all work the hard jobs. That's a women who just dumped her load of smaller rocks.

Which reminds me to make a note on the positive side of concrete and asphalt roads. Dirt roads have very little to say for themselves and must add to the really terrible air quality we've experienced every day.
Evening arrival at Bagan.

...might not prosper, but they do have fun! I looked on the internet and it seemed to me as if everyone else did this too.

Although it took two images to make each of these pictures happen it looked EXACTLY like this and I could hardly close my mouth for hours.


I love this introduction from Lonely Planet: "The Bagan Archeological Zone stretches 26 sq miles across central Myanmar. Despite centuries of neglect, looting, erosion, regular earthquakes (including a massive one in 1975) not to mention dodgy restoration, this temple-studded plain remains a remarkably impressive and unforgettable vision.

"In a 230-year building frenzy up until 1287 and the Moguol invasions, Bagan's kings commissioned more than 4000 Buddhist temples."

Another source put the number of temples at 10,000.
Sunset on the wall.
Hi Kaitlin! Hi Lilly!
Another huge and fabulous Myanmar meal. We can't stop!
January 31

Today's program: "Bagan. Breakfast at the hotel and then sightseeing around Bagan today to Tharabar Gate, Nyaung Oo Market, Shwezigon Pagoda, Wetgyi Inn Gubyauk Gyi, Htilominlo Temple, and Kyay Min Ga Temple. In the afternoon visit Lawkananda Temle, Manuha Temple, Mam Paya, Myinkaba gubyauk Gyi. Then visit Mya Zedi, Thetbyin Nyu Temple, Shwe Gugyi Pagoda, Gawdaw Palin Pagoda, the Roseeta STone. In the evening enjoy the sun set from Shwesandaw Pagoda, and transfer to Kumudara Hotel to overnight in Bagan."

I wrote this all out so you can get of an idea. We saw places in a different order, adding some and deleting others. When we could find a sign to identify the temple we took a picture of it. We'll see next week, I'll do my best when I can settle down to finish the writing.

I'm identifying the pagodas the best I can, corrections welcome!

Mingala Zedi Pagoda. That is 100 very steep steps up and Merlyn is on the phone talking to Hilda while he looks out over the plain of Bagan.
Tourists pouring up to the various levels to get the best view. Tourists climbing UP...
...and jockeying for position to get the shot.
Sunrise, temples, and $300 balloon rides.
Merlyn, on his phone, where we're doing a Facebooking Photo.
What temple? We went to SO MANY, in an order we're not sure of, took pictures in some and not in others...I will probably give up trying to name them.
Another tasty Bagan sandwich that needs some work. This is more a 'proof of concept' than a finished work.
Temple street food.
We take our shoes off and on 100s of times each day. I just kick off my flips.
Lunch. We'd order two 'main' dishes and this is just what you get. It's the way it works and we looooved it.
So many temples, so many pictures to choose among.
Many of the temples had paintings on the walls - most probably, and most had sections of very imperfect restorations. This one was probably restored at some point but not recently.
The only bit we saw of the old city wall.
I looked up the meanings of the Buddha images and their hand positions. This is 'Calling the earth to witness the truth'.
Our last outing with this driver. We'll get a new driver in the morning to take us to Mt Popa and on to Mandalay.

We Love this driver. He was a perfect driver, a mind-reader in that every time we looked up, coming out of a temple, finishing dinner, leaving in the morning, EVERY time there he was waiting to open the door for us.

Was he an English speaking driver as advertised? He could communicate our schedule no problem, but any conversation off topic of our schedule was not possible.
We ran into cows and goats often. But not like in India where the animals share the main highways. Here they do have full use of the rural roads.
Our sunset viewing location. Notice the crowd gathering at the top.
Everyone was having so much fun!
There it goes.
Interesting how the color changed.
February 1

Today's program: "Bagan to Mt Popa to Mandalay. Breakfast at the hotel then drive to Mt Popa. Visit Popa Taungkalatt (a volcanic plug) and environs the drive for 6 hours to Mandalay. En route visit Bago then transfer to Yuan Sheng Hotel for overnight in Mandalay."

This is a picture of the restaurant at the Kumudara Hotel in Bagan where they were serving a nice buffet breakfast. We liked this place too with its rustic charm set among the fields of temples in New Bagan. Kudos to Myanmar Delights for coming up with all very good accommodations and all within budget.
Feed for the animals we think.
Heading home with the shopping from the local market.
Mt Popa. I'm going to copy in the Lonely Planet highlights.

"Considered the spiritual HQ to Myanmar's infamous '37 nat'. Mt Popa is the premier venue for worship of these pre-Buddhist spirits and an easy day trip from Bagan.

"A gilded Buddhist temple accessed by 777 steps teeters atop a tower like 2418 foot volcanic plug. The 20-minute climb up goes past devout pilgrims, cheeky monkeys, and occasionally slow-stepping hermit monks called yeti.
"From the temple there are mammoth views back towards the Myingyan Plain and beyond."
A cool looking sign and an arrow to somewhere.
I don't know!
The monkeys are cheeky all right. I saw this guy swipe the soda can from a kid and head up to the roof to finish it off.
Another cool looking sign and an arrow.
Many of the temples have these dining options of usually rice and a few of the side dishes that we've been eating all along.
Fording a river while they build a new bridge.
What a cutie.
A paved road.

The cars can have the steering on the left or the right, usually it seems on the right having come directly from Japan and all marked in Japanese.

The thing is the cars also drive on the right side meaning the driver is over on the curb side and can't see the oncoming traffic. True.

So if you want to pass you honk at the blinding truck who then blinks his right turn signal if it is unsafe to pass and blinks his left turn signal for an all clear. Then everyone honks at each other as you pass.

It all works ok except it is a little disconcerting when the truck actually wants to turn left. You need to be constantly aware of that possibility.
February 2

Today's program: "Mandalay to Amarapura to Sagaing. Breakfast at the hotel then vist the Mahagandaryone Monastery for offering alms food to the thousand monks. See the Mahamuni Image, a bronze Buddha image cast during the lifetime of Buddha himself, Mahamuni Pagoda, tapestry works, woodcarving and bronze casting workshops, marble carving workshops, Kuthodaw Pagoda, and Shwenandaw Kyaung Monastery.

"Then vist Sagaing environ, U Min Thonze Pagoda, Sun U Ponya Shin Pagoda, and Kaungmudaw Pagoda. Enjoy the evening sunset at U Bein Bridge, then transfer to Yuan Sheng Hotel for overnight in Mandalay."

This is the view out my window of the hotel.
I was expecting for no reason at all that Mandalay would be a lovely and gracious colonial city along the lines of Hanoi but no, it seemed rather a thick collection of villages jammed between the boulevards with extraordinary temples and monasteries crowding the landscape.

The Mahamuni Pagoda. Notice the men applying gold leaf to the Buddha and a video of them is showing on the screen above.
These are the Mahamuni Bronzes and adorable little girls.
Loading up in the public taxis. The roof is often packed with people too. It's actually really clean inside because they lay down a carpet, everyone removes their shoes and jams in there like you wouldn't believe.

Our driver told us foreigners are not allowed in these vehicles but I can't find any confirmation that it's true.
Mahagandaryon Monastery (Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery) in Amarapura, the onetime capital of Myanmar from 1783–1821 and 1842–1859.

In this monastery over 1000 monks live, teach, study, and work. Every day at 10am the monks line up and volunteers provide breakfast. There were, it seemed, as many tourists taking pictures as there were monks in line.
What it looks like at the end of the line.
Young ones waiting to get in line.
Younger ones already served. I'm using a full telephoto and photoshop blow-ups but still, they're just trying to eat their breakfast.
It's a very busy operation as you can imagine with more than 1000 residents.
We drove on past the tapestry works, woodcarving and bronze casting workshops, and marble carving workshops so we'd have time to visit...
...Inwa. You have to take a little shuttle boat to get there across a tributary of the Irrawaddy and Myitnge rivers...
...and then horse carts are at the ready to take you around.

Wiki: "Inwa was the capital of Burma for nearly 360 years, on five separate occasions, from 1365 to 1842. So identified as the seat of power in Burma that Inwa (as the Kingdom of Ava, or the Court of Ava) was the name by which Myanmar was known to Europeans down to the 19th century."
Ahh, the Chinese buffalo at work.
Our driver. There were men drivers too, but we randomly got one of the women.
An 1839 earthquake finished them off as an important city.
What an unexpectedly delightful ride through the countryside!
I might not have featured these oxen(?) teams yet. We have seen them all through Myanmar, in the fields and on the roads.
A leaning watchtower, another of the sights along the way.
After our return to the mainland, lunch poured out of this kitchen.
More pagodas, more Buddhas.
More more more.
Last stop for the day - U Bein Bridge, looking down at a pick-up soccer game of mostly barefoot skins and shirts.
It's really gorgeous.
Wiki says the bridge was built from wood reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa which is a nice tie-in to earlier in the day. Lonely Planet says it's the longest teak bridge in the world - this isn't all of it by any measure.
Looking for our sunset views. There were sunflower fields planted as a crop all along the way.
A lady moving product on her head, a man out for the view, a couple of monks, a tourist - a great combo!
Another group including a couple of monks and kids on the phone.
The sun setting through the U Bein Bridge.
February 3

Today's program: "Mandalay to Mingun to Mandalay. Breakfast at the hotel then transfer to the jetty to board your boat to Mingun. Visit the unfinished Pahto Daw Gyi, Giant Mingun Bell, and Mya Thein Tan Pagoda. After that take a boat back to the jetty for the transfer to Mandalay. Visit the Palace compound and enjoy the evening at Mandalay Hill. Transfer back to Yuan Sheng Hotel for overnight in Mandalay."

But first, we had a little excitement along the way. We were stopped by THE POLICE. Merlyn was snapping away and that guy you see came up to the car window and make him delete all the photos. I had snapped this one quickly and then stashed my camera.

The driver had to produce his documents. Were they in order? We don't know, but they were stopping many cars who then drove right on.

That's the back of our driver going over to the little table. He returned saying that "for the sake of his relationship with the officer at the table he gave a little tip and we were free to travel on."
On with the program, we boarded our boat to Mingun...
...that we shared with this couple from Australia and their sweet and delightful guide.

What a pleasure to be able to ask a question and then get an answer!
Mingun Pahtodawgyi, the largest stack of bricks in the world, or so they said. It's solid bricks since the top of the unfinished pagoda collapsed into itself during the 1839 earthquake.
Also destroyed in the earthquake, the lions pictured on the Myanmar money.
Mingun Bell, the World's Largest Uncracked and Ringing Bell. From the outside and then I scooted inside too...
...and the top-piece.
Taxi! Taxi anyone?!
Painted white and modeled on the physical description of the Buddhist mythological mountain, Mount Meru, Hsinbyume Pagoda has a story, according to the guide, similar to that of the Taj Mahal, built in 1816 by a ruler in memory of his dead wife.
The boatmen created a welcome handrail.
Mom and Dad and Grandma and the Baby,
A marvelous teak pagoda in the Palace complex...
...beautifully done...
...and a golden treat.
Kuthodaw pagoda and The World's Largest Book!
Here's what the complex looks like. Inside each of those small buildings is a stone tablet, part of the World's Largest Book.
Another view.
The Palace (I think...I don't remember seeing the book before the palace but that's the order of the pictures.)
Then we went up Mandalay Hill for a look around. We got separated but it was worth it for this picture of Merlyn.
February 4

Today's program: "Breakfast at the hotel then transfer to Mandalay International Airport."

Skipping breakfast at the hotel as we did almost every day, we had a big adventure in the morning before heading out to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai.

We went out in search of what Lonely Planet calls "The best three-wheel street trolley" in Mandalay serving mohinga, a dish Merlyn has been trying to eat since we got here.

Here's one of our co-diners who, after asking us where we were from, produced this amazing phone and phone holder.
It was So Much Fun, and totally delicious too.
A quick snap on the walk back to the hotel.
Goodbye to our Mandalay driver, and we're off to Chiang Mai Thailand. What an AWESOME ADVENTURE we just had.
HomeAsia • Myanmar • '15 Feb: Myanmar

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