Arriba Mandalay! Myanmar (Part 2)
Our next stop, would be to see the largest book in the world.
Largest book in the world? How exciting can this be, really. So we dashed through the busy Mandalay streets, three persons on a scooter, towards Kuthodaw Pagoda where 729 marble stones engraved with ancient Theravada Buddhist doctrines were housed, in white mini stupa shaped structures.
Massive grounds of Kuthodaw Pagoda captured in a model
Completed after 8years of work in 1868 with 1 more marble tablet added to explain the project, there were now 730 stone tablets for generations to read. We only viewed a fraction of the massive grounds and a few antique marble stones to conclude that the magnitude of work and commitment to realise this dream by King Mindon and his team of artisans would be indeed inspiring to any person who saw it.
After we explored the grounds it was time to do some jewelry shopping!
Our next stop was the jade market.
This visit to the jade market is a must as you will get an insight into how rough stones are transformed into objects of beauty.
these are both jade stones
Makes you cringe doesn’t it?
They say an experienced jeweler would be able to bring out the value and cut from a stone that looks like any other stone to a layman.
Here, the lower value stones open for trade. These are the cuts discarded by the original owners after the best parts have been taken. Still, there is some value for shoppers who see what we can’t see.
again child labour is not uncommon on the streets of Myanmar
Child labour is not necessarily bad when you consider they have to either fend for themselves anyway, or help support their family. The sight of these poor kids working with their bare hands, without masks on grinders and polishers may put some people off.
A special natural glue attaches the unpolished jade to the bamboo stick. The stick becomes a handle to hold the jade to the spinning polisher .
So distracted and preoccupied were we, with our surroundings, we did not realize that it was already almost sunset and time to see about a bridge.. and some monks.
U Bein bridge is yet another big tourist attraction. It is the stuff that many travel literature and magazines write about.. where images of monks and villagers walking across the 1.2km antique teak bridge that straddles the low level lake Taungthaman are captured during the early morning or at sunset. The rudimentary bridge without ornate carvings or unique engineering, holds the title of longest teak wood bridge in the world, connecting the village Taungthaman with Mahagandhayon Monastery.
please sir, will you take our picture?
Walking through the village, I bumped into a celebration of sorts. A fun tug of war ensued between the sexes. A father actually insisted I take a photo of his naked kids covered with soot all over their bodies.
Earlier we highlighted a work of art, but a talented local artist. This one is simply crafted and rather shoddily too, by probably the worst artisan in Mandalay! It’s cute though, and rather funny, isn’t it?
With some time on our hands, we decided to look for Mandalay Beer but in Mandalay, there are actually only a few places which offer Mandalay Beer. Instead, we found Mandalay Rum. Lacking the refined taste of Bacardi, Captain Morgans or even Jamaica Rum, Mandalay Rum is a coarsely distilled liquor served neat with ice that simply burned our tongues, throats and probably intestines too.
Children selling liquor which might infuriate anti child labour supporters.
At the rum joint, another trishaw driver (also with a strong betelnut fetish) who spoke English approached us offering to show us around. Intoxicated by several glasses of Mandalay Rum and Myanmar Beer, we thought we would sober up by going for a ride on his wheels. Our new found friend whose name we’ve forgotten, peddled us drunks around Mandalay Fort, a large square measuring approximately 2 by 2 km, in the heart of the city. In this fort you would find the rebuilt Mandalay Palace, the former home of King Mindon, the last royalty of Myanmar in mid 19th Century. You would also find the Royal Mint and Royal Mausoleum. Not wanting to pay the entrance fees, we carried on to another attraction. We skipped taking a look at caged wildlife at the Mandalay Zoo and decided to visit our driver’s rented home in the less expensive part of town instead. He was adamant we meet his family and we didn’t want to let him down.
such cute kids!
his one and only son.. or prince rather!
Eventually, our nearly sobered up selves needed some food. We landed up at a shady shop for some Shan Noodles. As luck would have it, Cumi spotted some passionfruit liquor and so the drinking continued! Just like the Mandalay Rum, it was pretty foul tasting. It wasn’t sweet and you couldn’t taste any passionfruit but it definitely had an alcoholic punch.
Next stop.. Inle Lake!
If you liked this story, read our past posts on Myanmar –
Our posts so far:
1. Yangon City, Myanmar
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