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Temples at Mandalay HIll

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At play in the marketplace

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Sunset along the moat

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the base of Mingun's pagoda

MANDALAY     After touring the city which is so easy to do by bicycle, I joined friends for a cultural show at the Mustache Brothers theater.  It was a little shop that almost had room for an audience of four and the dancers.  The host, Mr. Mustache, was an animated comedian who used every slang phase known in the English language.  His brother, also a comedian, told one joke too many about the government (That could be just one joke in Burma.) and was sent to a slave labor camp.  The government had no sense of humor.

SAGAING, near MANDALAY      There are several easy day trips out of Mandalay.  The journey to Sagaing began with a special event.  I was headed in the general direction of the bus stop but actually was clueless to the exact location.  A monk in a truck saw me and realized my problem.  He jumped off, guided me to my taxi/ truck, and made sure I knew the right price. 

Sagaing was a beautiful hill covered with pagodas.   But, I was about pagoda'ed out.  I walked the river and into villages.  The big thrill came when I passed by a monastery filled with novices.  They stopped me, saw the camera, and wanted their pictures taken. 

Getting home was easy.  I hopped on the back of a truck.  It literally was on the back door -- the tailgate hung out over the road.  The truck was loaded with crates.  The tailgate was down and halfway loaded.  I sat on top of the tailgate crates with two employees.  It wasn't a common sight.  I caused a lot of laughter, but the ride was free.

MINGUN, near MANDALAY    A boat tip away from Mandalay was Mingun.   The trishaw (taxi bike) was thirty cents.  One way boat fair was all of ten cents.  Round trip for everything was all of fifty cents.  Once in Mingun tourists were supposed to go right to see what would have been the world's largest pagoda if completed and the second largest bell in the world. (The largest is badly cracked in Moscow.)  I went left and walked through villages, watched gambling volleyball by men wearing longyis converted into shorts, visited a distant pagoda, took pictures of kids, and then rode on an ox cart back to the place I was "supposed" to go visit.  The pagoda base was massive.   There were 174 steps to the top.  The curved area on the top was never started.   The bell  for this pagoda was twelve feet tall.

Copyright 1998 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.