Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Myanmar Trip : Day 2 Mandalay

Mahamuni Pagoda
On our day 2 at Mandalay, we visited the King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop, Mahamuni Pagoda that houses the Buddha covered with hundreds of layers of gold leaf, the Jade Market where you can get a good bargain on jade, the marble carving streets, the Mandalay Royal Palace, the Kuthodaw Pagoda and the day ended with sunset at Mandalay Hill.

Read more on our Day 2 excursion.

One of the things I enjoyed most during vacation is the buffet breakfast. Here at Mandalay Hill Resort, I got to enjoy the rarity of bacon in my home country. They even serve the half boiled egg in the cute egg cup. This is my first experience with it and it ended up in a mess. Point to note, do not attempt to buy egg cup for my home unless purely for decorative purpose.
Breakfast at Mandalay Hill Resort
The main activities in Myanmar as suggested by our tour guide was to visit as many pagoda as possible within the travelling period. If you think Myanmar is a poor country, think again. Limitless number of golden pagoda stand erect in every corner of Myanmar. With the rising price in gold, I bet Myanmar might be one of the riches country in SEA.

Before we start visiting the obligatory pagoda site, we was introduced to the gold leaf production at 'King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop'. Here we observed how gold leaf was produced and package. We bought a little gold leaf as souvenir for USD2.
King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop

The first temple we visited was the Mahamuni Pagoda, with its famous Buddha being covered in layers and layers of gold leaf by their believers. Sexual discrimination is excessive here, whereby they only allow the male visitor to enter the vicinity to touch the Buddha. Females are to pay homage at a distance away.
Mahamuni Pagoda
A sarong will comes in handy if you are not wearing long pants, as we need to cover our legs for both male and female while visiting most of the temple and monastery in Myanmar. I put on my colourful wrapper to good use here, beside using solely at the beach. You should avoid wearing branded shoes as well, as we need to remove our shoes upon entering the temple. Keep your Manolo in the hotel.

Here comes the dustiest street in Mandalay, which congregates the marble carving workshop. I failed to remember the street name and despite performing some serious researching in google, I found out most blogger also can't remember this marble carving street name.

The marble carvers showcasing their carving skill by the street and we can observe it up close and personal without paying a penny. It shocked me that they didn't wear any protective gear or face mask, and they were all covered in marble dust from head to toe. Respiratory problem might be least of their problem though. We manage to shop for some small marble carvings for our family. I took the opportunity to practised  my sub par haggling skill here.
Marble carving street at Mandalay
Is time for further shopping as the Jade Market, which they charge USD1 for entrance fee impose on foreigners. It is a guarded compound where hundreds of jade and precious stone dealer make their trading here. You can also see some of the workers in the workshop cutting and polishing the precious stones. For those who don't appreciate precious stone and thinks jade is meant only for the elderly, I ended up didn't buy any. What a great self-control I had exerted here.
Jade Market at Mandalay
We're anxious for the lunch time to commence not because we were hungry, but because we have been holding our bladders for quite awhile now. We had lunch at Mya Nandas Restaurant that overlooked a river. Half way eating, there was a puppet show on the stage too.
Lunch at Mya Nandas Restaurant
Children enjoying the puppet show
 After refueling our energy, we continue with our journey to The Mandalay Royal Palace, which large part was used to be burnt down. Therefore, we were mostly looking at replica and restored ruins. There was a distinct difference in the craftsmanship between the original and replica. There were countless of chambers and you can imagine how many concubine the king used to have. We climbed the winding steps to reach the top of the looking tower, whereby I met this cute little blondie who walked like a little drunk. I don't even mind him grabbing my thigh for balance.
The Mandalay Royal Palace
We reached Kuthodaw Pagoda that is famous for its 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures and is listed as 'World Biggest Big'. The 729 slabs was arrange all around the compound and you can't appreciate the enormity of it without having an eagle view. There was also thing tree with its enormous branch being supported by pillar.
The Kuthodaw Pagoda
Local lady selling flowers at the Pagoda
Our last stop was to watch the sunset at the top of the Mandalay Hill. In order to fully experience how the local people travel, we boarded a truck from the bottom of the hill. During the journey up, you can see there are a number of joggers around. But the clean air was contaminated by the exhaust from our truck. Oops, sorry pal. Once we reach the temple set upon the Mandalay Hill, I breathed a sigh of relief when I found the escalator to bring us up to the top of the temple. Unfortunately, the weather was too cloudy for us to see the sunset. Mr. B was sorely disappointed.
The Mandalay Hill
After having some very bland Myanmar food for two days, we're very eager to attack the Thailand cuisine tonight. The tomyam soup totally wake up our taste bud, which had been asleep for a while. Best food so far for the entire trip.
Dinner at Thai restaurant