Burma, Especially Its Children – Post 16: Views from Mandalay

 

“Mandalay” is a name I have heard through the years, and it always had an exotic, Eastern feel. The reality, though, was much more brilliant and alive than I had imagined. Mandalay is the acknowledged cultural, educational, and economic center of Burma. I only have time here for two of the magnificent sites I visited in this colorful and stimulating city.

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Mandalay Hill

 

The most famous view is the view of the city at sunset from the top of Mandalay Hill. This is an enormously high hill with monasteries and pagodas lining the way up, and crowned with the Sutaungpyei (literally, wish-fulfilling) Pagoda at the very top.

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Mandalay Hill

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Mandalay Hill

 

The view of the city from Sutaungpyei Pagoda makes the long, steep climb worth it. This has been a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists for the last two centuries. In recent years, the construction of a narrow, dizzying windy road and a series of escalators at the very top makes the approach (especially when carrying a load of camera equipment!) much more doable.

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Mandalay Hill

 

Many monks walk the long distance to the top. It is a holy site for them, but many of the young monks, such as this one, also come here to practice their English skills on tourists.

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. Mandalay Hill

 

Another famous Mandalay view is the sunset from U Bain Bridge. This is a wooden footbridge, considered the longest teak bridge in the world. (The teak was taken from the teak columns of an old palace when it was dismantled.) The bridge is just under a mile long (or 1.2 km) and runs over Taungthaman Lake. People, including monks, locals, and tourists, often walk over the bridge at sunset.

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

(note: One thing that got my attention for this shot was the conversation between the two similarly-aged boys, one a novice and one who is not.)

 

Other people hire small boats to get the sunset view from the water. Yes, that’s what my group did.

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

– and it was an amazing view!

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

The bridge against the setting sun was stark and brilliantly rich, but not the only subject. Everywhere I turned the camera were more gorgeous views, including water reflections and fishermen in the swiftly-changing light.

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

Mandalay, Burma, Myanmar. U Bien Bridge

 

This was all at sunset on our last day in this city – goodbye, Mandalay!

   Read Post 17