In Pwin Oo Lwin, I met a man with no teeth and a crazy goatee with red spit all in it to find us a tuk tuk Mandalay. There were six of us that climbed in and by the time we were leaving the village I counted 22 people on one tuk tuk. Way too many people for the small tuk tuk, but an experience nonetheless.
By the time we got to Mandalay I knew everything about the man sitting next to me, his ex wife and family troubles and I was able to share my struggles as well. It's nice to be able to talk about my eating disorder now. If anything talking about it is really the only way you'll get over it. I feel really strong and I am confident that my eating disorder is behind me. I don't want it to come back.. I finally feel free not thinking about what I'm eating and what I look like every second of everyday.
By the time we got to Mandalay, my butt was numb from sitting on the wooden plank bench, I was dusty as hell and it was 3 hours later. It had the same feel as Phenom Phen in Cambodia, but was a bit bigger in size. It was busy, dusty and unfortunately, full of angered locals who have been jaded by tourism, especially the cab drivers. I walked to my hostel amidst the air filled with dust, dogs barking, and motorbikes wizzing past in every direction.
A day out in Mandalay consisted of visiting the Four Kings Cities. We first visited a temple where they were having a massive celebration. All men and women dressed up to the nines. Very interesting to see the little boys dressed up as women and the women dressed up as well even though they were not allowed to go into the temple.
We drove to Saigan Hill next! This is a nice hike up a hill with heaps of stairs (you can be driven to the top too). This walk ends with a 360 degree view from a temple at the top. The view would have been really pretty if it was clear with the temples and pagodas lining the skyline. The colorful temple is accompanied by a market & a restaurant. We walked back down and our cab drove us to Inwa.
When arriving at Inwa, we had to take a boat over to a tiny dusty town full of horses and lots of horse poop. Definitely not the best place, being heckled by the locals to take a horse ride tour while the horses you could see were very unhappy and hot. We quickly left and returned to our taxi.
The local cab driver was pretty angry already because we woke him up from his nap. He tried taking us to a really expensive restaurant and when we denied he yelled at us for a couple minutes. Not sure what he was saying because it was all in Burmese, but he got his point across. We were just trying to see if he could take us somewhere local where it wasn't an arm and a leg for food and that wouldn't cut it for him. I do know that certain restaurants tip the drivers for bringing westerners through. I don't disagree with this, I was just completely opposed to paying $8 for a plate of noodles. The local cab driver did end up dropping us off at a local spot where everyone stared at us for two hours while we sat there drank beer and ate some rice with veggies. It wasn't a rude stare just an inquisitive one.
We got back in the car and were taken to Amapura where the bamboo bridge is. We went to a tea shop for a bit and then went and walked along the longest teak bridge in the world. It was a cool bridge, but nothing too special. We had more fun taking pictures with locals than anything else we did that day. The people watching is fascinating in this country.
We were driven back to Mandalay by the angry cab driver and he dropped us at our Ace Star Backpacker Hostel. We bought beers and chips at the market nearby and sat on the roof for a couple hours just chilling before deciding to go get dinner at Cesar next door. Good decision this night, but the next night I ended up getting food poisoning from a tea leaf salad before my two full days of travel to Australia.
Where to eat:
- Daung Lann Gyi - The menu was huge but does not sell alcohol, so bring your own from the store across the road! A bit more expensive, but good food!
- Cesar - A good place for wifi & they have some western dishes. Huge burger if you are into it...
- Lashio Lay - cheap Shan dishes
- Shan Ma Ma - cheap Shan dishes
Things to do:
- Rent an e-bike or get a driver to take you to the Four King's Cities. E bike shouldn't cost you more than $7 & a shared cab shouldn't be more than $15 per day!
- Visit Saigan Hill at sunset
- Be apart of a temple celebration
- Visit the longest teak bridge in Southeast Asia.
Where to stay:
- Ace Star Backpacker hostel - Nice staff and a lovely rooftop to enjoy dinner or a cold brew. Not the best hostel, but not the worst either! It was $11 per night included breakfast.
Unfortunately, Mandalay wasn't my favorite, but different strokes for different folks! Hope you have a better time than I did!