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The Sights Around Mandalay

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After a couple of days at the monastery, we were ready to go to some of the nearby villages to see the "tourist attractions." Ni Ley accompanied us, as we set off in one of the tiny, 50 year old, blue taxis that dart around the city. Dart is not an apt word here. Plod is more like it, as they don't move very fast and they are certainly not comfortable. Nevertheless we hired one for the day and it was off to Amarapura, site of the royal capital in 1841 or so. On the way we stopped to see what appeared to be a thousand or more monks, lined up with their rice bowls to receive their last meal of the day, lunch. They were a lot of foreign tourists as well, anxious to get the best pictures.



We continued to U Bein , a long footbridge over a shallow (in the dry season) lake. More than 200 hundred years old, and made of nearly indestructible teak, it is is one of the most famous sites in Burma. After walking across and back in the mid-day heat, we were glad to stop at one of the lakeside restaurants.



From there our bone-jarring ride took us to Sagaing, where we had to climb the many, many steps to get to the top of the hill. Thankfully, a shade platform covered most of them. There is an impressive Buddha here, and views of another 500 pagodas and monasteries on the hill overlooking the Irrawady River.




Taking a Much Needed Rest at the Top

Next was Inwa, which served as the capital for 400 years before Amarapura. To get there we had to cross a bridge built by the British, take a boat across the river, and then a horse drawn cart to view the spread out ruins. We didn't have enough time or energy to see all of it, as we had to get back for a visit with Yu Yu's uncle.



On another day we climbed to the top of Mandalay Hill, located right behind the monastery.

Palace Wall With View of Mandalay Hill in Background

There were nice views of the city spread out below.



And as always we were accompanied by a contingent of monks.


That evening, we went to a nearby tea house for dinner, once again with Ni Ley who didn't eat of course. I asked what led up to his becoming a monk, 11 years earlier at the age of 15.

"I was very happy during the time I was a novitiate, and made many friends. At the time, it seemed like monks could do many things, but not now. I am unhappy now, and worry about my family who are poor farmers, and have to support me. What it will be like when they get older? I want to leave Burma so I can find a way to help them, but don't know how. What should I do?"

We discussed getting a passport and a visa, perhaps first for Thailand. We said we would sponsor him to come to the US, and would check into the process for him.

He said that in the past few months he thought about crossing over the border illegally. He was worried about what might happen in the upcoming elections in October. Perhaps there would be more crackdowns on monks.

We told him how to apply for a passport, and that a legal visa for Thailand was not difficult to obtain. We reiterated that we would speak to our Burmese friends in the states to find out how they managed to obtain their visas, but that this would have to wait until our return.

Silently, I wondered whether this was realistic. How likely was it that he would ever get visa for the US?

Another example of the desperation people feel.

Posted by jonshapiro 12:57 Archived in Myanmar Tagged tourist_sites

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The photos are lovely, reminding me of my visit.The story is so touchy and true

by Elona Kitron

Am enjoying your pictures and commentary so much. Look forward to seeing you. Love susanna

by Susanna Sherwood @

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