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Mandalay Revisited

Written on: Thursday March 13th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

I felt bad at taking a train, but I reasoned with myself that is was only $6, it would pass over an extremely impressive viaduct on the way and also contained Hans, Dominique and Marco. It was 1000 times more comfortable also. Hans and the Swiss departed at Pwin U Lwin, and I continued for another 4 hours back to Mandalay.


I only spent the one day here this time. I hired a pushbike (whose pedal disintegrated at one point) and went off to explore the city myself. I cycled right around the 6km perimeter of the Royal Fortress, but didn?t venture in as it meant paying the $10 government fee. Instead I visited Mandalay Hill, avoided the ticket desk and made the steep walk to its summit.


I lingered at the top of the hill writing for while, until I was joined by a young Burmese boy, 10 years of age, who was very intrigued by me. He ended up sitting down with me (I have no idea where his parents were) and I taught him some English for about an hour. I?m not sure he was bored by the lesson, but I was so I moved on to card playing. There is a rumour that playing-cards are banned here in Burma so not many people have seen them, let alone played with them. I taught him how to play Snap, and before long we were joined by quite a crowd, including a young novice monk who joined the game. It was only afterwards that I reflected that it probably wasn?t the most religious thing to be teaching at the top of the city?s most venerated hill where a huge Buddhist shrine sits atop, and to a monk too. I allowed the boy to look through my pictures and bit and pieces I had with me and he took a liking to the passport pictures of Dave I have, so if you ever visit Mandalay and meet a boy who carries round a passport photo of Dave you know the one I met.