On the Mandalay-Meiktila road, is Paleik, the home of this snake pagoda. There are 2 pythons which reside in the recess with the gold Buddha image, curled around and with it. They have carers, who feed and wash them daily at 11am, and look over them throughout the day. This is not a much visited pagoda by tourists, but there are many Myanma people who visit here, and have photographs taken with the pampered pythons.
The pagoda was built in the early 20th Century.
I was eagerly brought forward to get nice and close to the cold slithery things - just to reinforce my snake aversion. The Myanma onlookers were much amused at my response when I refused the sinuous adornment for a digital image!
There is also a large courtyard with dozens of naga images, and a photographic gallery, showing people with the snakes curled around them. Aaaagghh....not good for a snake phobic!
Something very different to be sure!
Stretching across the Taungthaman Lake is a teak bridge, which, at 1.2km long, is said to be the longest in the world. It joins the Maha Ganayon Kyaung, where there is a large monastery, and the village of Pahtodawgyi. The bridge is named after the mayor of Amarapura, and this footbridge is constructed from salvaged material from Inwa Palace. Its amazing to think that most of the materials in this bridge are nearly 200 years old. Some of the upright teak posts have been replaced by concrete poles, but most are the original timber.
The subject of much artwork, this picturesque bridge was one of my favourite things in Mandalay. We walked across the bridge, but came back in a little boat, which was paddled by a very elderly gentleman, who has undoubtedly paddled the shallow lake thousands of times in his life.
The bridge is an essential connection across the lake, and has undoubtedly been pounded by millions of feet. There was a constant stream of "commuters" the whole time we were there.
Organise a taxi and go to Pyin U Lwin/Maymyo and visit a town that is still locked into the late 50s. The central point is Purcell Tower (erected in 1936)but from here you can explore the main streets and visit some of the major buildings which are great examples of British colonial history such as the Hospital, the government schools, the cemetry, the main Church of England.
Travel along Circle Road and there are also some wonderful examples of the houses that the colonial British lived in in their heyday.
U Bein Bridge is located in Amarapura. It is a 1.2km teak footbridge across the Taungthaman Lake.
What you will see is hundreds of villagers going back and forth, fishermen in the water, boatmen hoping to catch some passengers.
Along the bridge there are a number of "pitstops". You could easily sit here and just simply take a break and observe the passing parade and the activities of the stall owners as they sell their wares (fresh fish, snacks, water, toddy).It is very peaceful despite the hive of activity along the bridge.
If you walk across the bridge on the other side is the Kyauktawgyi Paya.
Around the bridge there is a outdoor seating area and women cooking and a variety of stalls selling artworks and other crafts.
We asked our blue taxi driver to take us here as well as Sagaing. (cost US$20)
This isn't really off the beaten track but you do have to hire a car or a taxi to visit Sagaing from Mandalay. Sagaing was the capital of the Shan Kingdom and is now a major Buddhist centre with over 500 stupas and 6,000 monks and nuns. Unfortunately we were not able to explore the area in any great depth.
However, we were able to go to the main site- Saigaing Hill and in so doing see some of the other fabulous pagodas from a distance! Enough to whet our appetite to visit again!
To enter Saigaing you have to pay a fee of US$3.00. At two lion gate you climb about 350 steps upward and maybe 500 metres horizontally.There are a number of viewing platforms on the way to take in the view. Once you get to the top the pagoda itself is quite beautiful and you have nearly 300 degrees of views of Sagaing, Sagaing Bridge and the Ayerwaddy river.
To visit on Mandalay brewery is not easy , because you need permission for this . Brewery belongs to the Government. I got the permission.
I had meeting with general manager major Mr. U Thaung Myint , who works there already twenty four years.
In spite of cordiality ,everything was very strictly. To make photos was prohibited. Only after I beg for it , he permitted me to make a few pics but only in special places. When I made photos of brewery from outside , he ordered stuffs to close every window. Then he shaw us old brewery building ( since 1886 ) with old British equipment ( still working ) , and permitted to shoot it , but I gave promisses that never print this pictures for a public , because he must be fired. So I won`t , I just show only one pic of the brewery from outside , that major gave me. It is of no restriction. Pay your attention - in this photo all windows are closed and no workers..
Then we taste beer ( he - russian , me - Mandalay lager ) , and at last he presented me box of Mandalay lager ( 12 bottles x 640 ml ) . Heavy gift to carry to Russia !
This is an old teak bridge connecting the monastery with the Kyauktawgyi Paya crossing Taungthaman Lake. The bridge is narrow but looonnngggg. Very beautiful view to the lake and a very romantic setting.
The morning is so calm (usually). This is taken at the moat along the Mandalay Fort. (Western Wall) On the walk way nearby there are elderly locals doing their morning exercise rituals. It was such a great morning!
For some of you the Sunrise may be off the beaten path?! LOL When I'm traveling I love to get up for sunrise. Especially in Asia where it is hot during the mid-day. It is so comfortable (for me) to walk around in the morning just as sunrise comes up and you get to watch the city come alive with activivity. Most of the locals in Mandalay were wearing some sort of heavier jacket in the morning. Some even wore a winter ski hat. It was just great for me. The temperature seemed somewhere around in the low 70's F or low 20's C. Which is hotter than most of our summer days in Kodiak. LOL
My son and I visited Shwekyimyint early in the morning just after sunrise. There were quite a few early morning worshipers inside. Most were dressed as though they were on their way to work. There are some pretty nice Buddha images located here. And it doesn't cost anything to enter.
From Hsipaw it's a 80km ride which took me 10 hours to reach Namhsan where I could stay at a local house as there are not yet any guesthouse. The lady where I stood took me to the monastery where I met a monch who came with me trecking. So I ended up in a monastery on the mountain. It was a good experience to spend their a night in the nons section.
This is a typical village setting. Simply beautiful!
You will be aware that you are in a developing country as soon as you leave the hustle and bustle of the main city centres. Rural life has its charms though as this picture illustrates.
A Bullock cart picked up this lady by the Pwe Kauk Falls. These carts are used to carry people as well as commodities over the dusty roads throughout Myanmar. The bullocks are so docile and placidly plod their way through the day.
Take bus #8 from Mandalay (corner 84th and 29th Street) and ask the driver to stop at the bridge.
We hired a taxi for a combine trip.
Sorry for boring you with the sunrise photos but it was such a beautiful morning. My son and I wandered around for a couple hours before we ate breakfast.