Myanmar Now or Never # 2 : Mandalay written by ลุงเสื้อเขียว

Previous chapter Myanmar Now or Never # 1 : Bago, Bagan Mandalay is considered as the last capital city of Burmese Monarchy and it is also the important city of Mandalay region. Burmese people has regarded Mandalay city as the city which is remarkable with the

Myanmar Now or Never # 2 : Mandalay

Myanmar Now or Never # 2 : Mandalay

Previous chapter Myanmar Now or Never # 1 : Bago, Bagan

Mandalay is considered as the last capital city of Burmese Monarchy and it is also the important city of Mandalay region. Burmese people has regarded Mandalay city as the city which is remarkable with the culture and Buddhism, moreover, it is the city that has the most outstanding performing and musical arts in the country.

The significant attractions are the royal palace of King Mindon where the Mandalay historical museum, National Museum and National Library have been located. Beside, the city also has a lot of temples, historic sites and pagoda such as Mahamuni Buddha Temple which Buddhist around the world have worshipped and Kuthodaw Temple that keeps the Tripitaka which is considered as the world's biggest Tripitaka.

On our fourth day morning, we set out to Bagan airport since 6 o'clock in the morning. The first light of the day begins to emerge, I then feel really pity that why is the brilliant light like this does not show up in the first day that I have arrived at Bagan city which is the day that I waited to watch the first light at Shwesandaw pagoda, I feel hurtful somehow

Bagan airport is considerably far from the city of Bagan. Upon arriving at the airport, we do the check-in right away; the officer will hand out the sticker to passenger for sticking it on the chest to define which airlines that passenger will travel with.

We use the service of Air Bagan that just has the accident of plane crash after I got back to Thailand for a few weeks. There is no baggage conveyor belt for loading the baggage, they weight the baggage by put them together and place them on the out-of-date weight scale that I used to see when I was young. The weight scale that has the face like those weight scale of the merchants in our city, it is quite big. Moreover, there is no specified seat number,hence, the passenger can sit as they prefer, for those who would like to have a window seat, they could hurry to board the aircraft and reserve the seat by themselves.

There is the water served on the plane and the candy that is made in Thailand for each passenger. It takes approximately 30 minutes and then we arrive at Mandalay airport.

Mandalay airport is nearly as big as Yangon airport. When we finished taking our baggage, we then head to Monywa city which is away from Mandalay city approximately 136 kilometers and it takes approximately 3 hours for the journey. Since the road is considerably narrow, the car cannot speed up. We also take a visit to some attraction along the way. Today's first destination is at Boditahtaung Temple.

Boditahtaung Temple has possessed the world's most important item which is the world's tallest standing Buddha image with 132 meters high. The Buddha image is situated on the hill which is easily to be seen in the far distance. Inside the Buddha Image has been divided into 19 floors approximately.

Each floor has the beautiful murals telling the story of Buddha's biography and the painting of hell to heaven, it is said that if one could go up to the top floor, they could go to heaven. However, I still don't want to go to heaven right now, so I will just walk and explore the lower floors.

Apart from the world's tallest standing Buddha Image, the temple also has been situated the reclining Buddha image and one thousand of Buddha images that sit in meditation under one thousand Bodhi trees.

After that, we take a visit at our second destination which is Thanboddhay Temple; the temple is built similar to Borobudur at Jawa Island, Indonesia. However, the temple is far more colorful than the one in Borobudur. This temple was built approximately 700 years ago and has been renovated in 1943. It is said that the remarkable point of this temple is 845 pagodas which situated around the temple. For the location that the tourist could view all those 845 pagodas, they will need to go up to the watchtower that has been built for the tourist to watch the scenery.

There are a lot of Buddha images situated inside the temple.

Inside the temple, there are the small Buddha images decorated at the pillar, wall and ceil, I feel dazzled when I watch those decoration. From my calculation, there are 582,363 Buddha images there. Nevertheless, I think that the fineness cannot be compared with those Buddha images in our country. The Buddha image seems like it has been casted from plaster and then draw the design pattern to have it looks like the Buddha image.

Then we continue our ride to our third destination which will be the last attraction for today, Po Win Daung Cave.

Po Win Daung Cave is located near Chindwin River and the caves are been carved out of the cliff. There are Buddha images, mural paintings and lintels which they said are similar to those at Ajanda cave in India. However, I did not know about that as I have never been there before. LoL.

At the foot of the stairways to the entrance of the cave, there are children who volunteer to be the tour guide for us, they publicize that they will take us to all places and unseen places that others have not been before. At first, we did not interest in their service but little tour guides follow us closely; they try to take us to all places. There are a lot of monkeys during the way up, therefore, please be very careful of them.

We finally reach the first cave but it is not that attractive so I didn't walk into the cave. Actually, as we have to put off our shoes in order to go inside the cave and apparently, the cave floor is rather messy, I'm scared that I will step on some barbs so I just poke my head in to watch inside the cave.

When we reach the second cave, the spectacular scene started to appear into our sight, I hurried to take off my shoe and walk into the cave. At the time that I set my left foot into the cave and my right foot will about to follow, I hear the warning voice from little guides say that the cave inside is quite dark, please be careful of snake. Upon hearing those warning, I quickly draw my feet back. Although, there are 3 doctors and 1 nurse in our group, I think they might not be able to help me much if I have been bite by the snake in this cave as it will take sometimes to look for the serum. The little guides start to pacify by saying that there might be no snake inside but anyway I still have to be careful when walking into the dark area.

Each cave has its own remarkable aspect. Some cave look like a maze.

Some have magnificent murals inside.

There are Buddha images line all over inside.

This cave is also beautiful.

The whole area is quite extensive; there are a lot of small and large caves. I would suggest that you guys should travel with tour guide that will make your trip more interesting than you travel by yourself. It is almost dark and we have to continue to move on to our accommodation now because it will take approximately an hour to travel to the hotel from here.

Tonight, we stay at Win Unity Hotel; it costs around 1500 baht per night. The hotel is located by the large swamp with the superb atmosphere.

On our fifth day, the morning atmosphere is extraordinary pleasant. There are thin mists above the water surface of the swamp. After finished packing food, we set out from Monyawa to Sagaing. By the time that we still are not yet out from Monyawa market; I have seen a lot of nuns come to receive food offerings that place in front of the house from the villager, I think there are around 100 nuns there. Nevertheless, nuns come from all directions and it looks disorderly, not like the monk, when they go out to receive food offerings, they will orderly line up.

I think this is quite interesting to me, thus, I ask the driver to stop the car and hurriedly jump out to take the pictures. However, the place is quiet bustling that I could not take much picture. The scene I have seen is that the villager will put the food which looks like nut in front of their houses, then after that each nun will walk to spoon up the food and put it in their own utensils which are carried on their head; some nuns even eat it right away. The thing that surprised me is that there is only nut offering to the nun, no more other kind of food.

After that we continue our journey. There is the brilliant light along the way; this beautiful light is not hard to be seen in Myanmar.

We head to our first destination today at Kaunghmudaw Pagoda which is located on the way before reaching Sagaing Hill.

Kaunghmudaw Pagoda is the large size pagoda which is believed that the hair relics of Lord Buddha is enshrined inside. The pagoda shape looks similar to overturned pomelo somehow. Gee says that the designation has been inspired from the consort's brassiere of the creator. Originally, the pagoda has white color; afterwards it was renovated into gold color. We have to pay for the camera fee inside; therefore, I think you rather take the picture outside as you could watch the tip of pagoda when you are outside, but if you take the photo of the pagoda from inside the temple, you couldn't watch the pagoda's tip.

From here, we head to our second destination, Sagaing Hill.

Sagaing Hill is the scenic point in the high area; from here you could watch plenty of pagodas in Sagaing city. I have visited Umin Thounzeh Temple which is located in the middle of the hill; this temple was called 30 caves temple. There are 45 Buddha Images situated inside the temple. The entrance fee is 3 USD for each person.

From the view point of Umin Thounzeh Temple, you could clearly see Kongmudaw Temple.

There are many pagoda surrounded all the area. We take sometimes in this area, and then we continue our journey to the third destination, Shew Kyet Kay.

We drive on Inwa Bridge to cross Irrawaddy River which is constructed by Chinese government in 2005. Next to the Inwa Bridge, you will see the old bridge which is constructed by England during Myanmar belongs to British colony. Shwe Kyet Kay Temple is situated near the foot of Inwa Bridge, close to the boat pier.

Then we finally arrive at Shwe Kyet Kay Temple.

At this temple, you could perfectly watch the scenery of Sagaing Hill with full of pagodas. It is one of the amazing places that you shouldn't miss out.

Then we continue traveling to Inwa city. And in order to travel to Inwa city, we need to ride on the ferry across the river. Inwa city is located in the area that Myitnge River and Irrawaddy River meet in the south area of Mandalay city. We ride on the ferry for quite a while, and then we arrive at Inwa City. Traveling within Inwa city, we need to ride on the horse carriage, one horse carriage is able to accommodate around 3 people and it costs at 6000 Kyat for one horse carriage.

The route that we ride on the horse carriage is full of dust along the way; therefore, I suggest you guys to prepare gauze mask with you. It takes approximately half an hour riding and the carriage has stopped at our fourth destination, Bhagaya Kyaung Temple.

Bhagaya Kyaung Temple is the teak wood monastery in the beginning art era of Inwa City. Most part of the building were constructed from teak wood, there are 267 pillars and the middle of the building is decorated with the castle-shaped roof in Myanmar style.

The outstanding point of this temple is the wood and the decorative carving art style on the teak wood. Most of the design patterns are designed by Thai people who are the prisoner of war in that time whether it be Sinha, Garuda or peacock patterns.

The area behind Bhagaya Kyaung Temple is arranged to be the study place for the novice.

I take a look of the novices and they are very cute.

Walking inside the temple, you should walk quietly in every step you take as there is the voice of the wood plate when you walk by.

We continue to ride on horse carriage to our fifth destination which is the observatory that is located in the area of Inwa Palace. This observatory has 27 meters tall and due to the top of the observatory has collapsed during the earthquake; so it has been newly renovated.

Nowadays, the top area opens for tourists to watch the scenery from above. However, looking from its condition right now, I still do not dare to risk my life climbing up above. As from my evaluation, the observatory looks leaning and I feel scared that if I climb up above, it will collapse and that will be the big problem for me. I think it would be just right if we newly give the name of this observatory as the leaning tower of Inwa city.

And not far from here, we ride on the horse carriage heading to our sixth destination.

Maha Aung Mye Bon San Monastery is built by the brick and decorated with intricate stucco sculptures with the multi tiered roof of Burmese monastery architecture during the Konbaung dynasty. This place is suitable for learning the architecture structure and the pattern of stucco sculptures.

Since around a month before I travelled here, the monastery has been received the impact of the earthquake, hence, the top of the temple did not open for the tourist during the time I come to visit the place. After that, we ride on the horse carriage back to the pier. Surprisingly, it takes only a short time to travel to the pier; on the contrary along on the ride here, we feel that we ride on the horse carriage such a long time.

From Inwa city, we head to our seventh destination which will be today's last destination, U Bien Bridge of Inwa city. It is reckoned as the world's longest teakwood bridge. This bridge was controlled the construction by the mayor names U Bien and apparently, the bridge is named after its creator.

The teakwood has 1,450 meters long by using the teakwood from dismantled old palace of Ava Kingdom. The bridge was constructed by 1,089 pillars of teakwood which is quite a lot; this is one reason why nowadays the trace of prosperity of ancient Ava Kingdom is very little to be seen despite the fact that it used to be the great capital city in the old days.

There is one belief that the surrounding area of U Bein Bridge was the residence area of Ayutthaya people who have been drove to Myanmar as the prisoner of war in the last siege of Ayutthaya Kingdom.

U Bein Bridge has more than 200 years of age. It was built in the reign of King Bodawpaya which corresponds to Rattanakosin Kingdom of Thailand. This bridge is a connection between Amarapura city and Kyauktawgyi Paya Island which located in the middle of Taungthaman Lake.

I arrived here since 3.30pm in the afternoon and there is quite a lot of time left before the sunset. Upon the car is parked, there is the owner of the boat inviting us to use the service. The boat will take us to the middle of the lake for watching the sun set scenery and it will cost 5,000Kyat for 4 people per boat. However, I haven't agree to use the service just yet, as I would like to look for the location to take the photo before and if there is no location that I like, then taking the boat will be the last choice for us.

As I see that we still have more time around one and half hour before the sunset, therefore, without taking my tripod with me, I walk until reaching the other side of the teak bridge looking for the location to take the photo. I think taking the tripod will be the burden for me and if I could find perfect location, I will walk back to get my tripod later.

I walk until I'm almost getting to the other side.

Through 1,450 meters length of the bridge, there are 4 pavilions for taking some rest. From my exploration throughout the bridge area, I eventually decided to take the sunset scenery photo at the pavilion which is located in the middle of the bridge.

Additionally, at this pavilion, there will be the staircase leading to the below area as well. During the time I visit, the level of water in the lake is quite low that makes a lot of bars emerging in the lake and the villager will do agriculture all over those bars area.

In conclusion, I decided to use agricultural area below for the location to take the photo of the sunset scenery.

I think not for long, the tractor will definitely replace the buffalo.

After I have already found my perfect location, next mission is that I need to walk back to fetch my tripod. Looking at the time, I have less than half an hour to walk back, fetch my tripod and get back at the middle of the bridge. The distance from the bridge here to the parking spot seems not far, however, in reality I take time to walk back to the parking lot more than I thought before. Moreover, my feet are still hurt; therefore, I have to half walk half limp to the parking lot.

Hurriedly walk back and take the photo in the same time.

When I arrived at the parking lot, it appears that the car is locked and the driver is not around there as well. I feel frustrated and wait at the parking lot quite sometimes while the light of the sun is getting weak; thus, I decided to look for the new location to take the photo around that spot and definitely without the tripod. While I am looking for the location, I find “Khao", he was there and has already reserved the place. However, I think the location at the parking lot is not perfect as I want it to be.

At this moment, I begin to feel like going off to the middle a of the lake to take the photo of sunset scenery. However, looking at the time, the boat might not be able to take me to the middle of the lake in time. Suddenly, Khao then presents his idea to me, he said I could wade through the water to the small mound which is located in the water and it is not far away from the point that I stand now. Personally, I am a bashful person and I don't dare to walk there. In addition, there is no one wade through the water, and if I do, I will surely attract the attention of many people on the bridge. Then Khao prods me by saying that “If my feet don't hurt, I will surely wade into the water". By hearing that, my pressure is increasing; I then think in my mind that what will I do? Will I try to wade through the water? The thought is still whirling all over my head and suddenly I see “Jay", he is walking toward me so I invite him to walk into the water with me and he promptly agrees. Not to waste anymore time, I hurried to hitch up my trouser legs, then slowly and carefully wade to the small mound, there is the mud beneath the water making the path is slippery.

At first, I hesitate whether I should take my camera bag with me or not, or I rather leave the camera bag with Khao at the shore. I'm scared that if I take the camera bag with me and if unfortunately, I get slip into the water, the photographic equipments will be damaged. Nevertheless, I finally decided to take camera bag with me and it comes out to be the right decision.

As after I take a few shots of the photo, the camera battery runs out, thus, I am able to use the backup battery in the camera bag.

The sun gradually sets little and little.

And not for long, it just disappears out of sight.

After the sun is set, the twilight light began to appear, the sky today is rather clear that makes me get the perfect photo as I expected.

When the light is gone, we head back to Mandalay city. The distance between U Bein Bridge and Mandalay city is approximately 12 kilometers.

Throughout the past 5 days, we didn't eat any Thai food, thus, we decide to have Thai food for the dinner. Someone suggests us that Koh Restaurant in Mandalay serving delicious Thai food and the customer need to reserve the seat in advance. Certainly, we are well prepared to reserve the place beforehand when we were at Inwa. We enjoy Thai food here very much and I would say that the food is tastier than some restaurant in Thailand.

Thereafter the dinner, we straightly go to our accommodation, Zegyo Hotel. For the hotel here, the room costs approximately 1,200baht. During that time, they were holding some activity, thus, the traffic in front of the hotel has been closed. The driver drives into circle as he tries to send us at the nearest area to the hotel. And on the way I have seen the stalls at the road side; most of the shops seem similar to each other. As I take a closely look at those shops, I finally find out that in fact they are all sex shops, and they are openly selling on the street!

Tonight I have to sleep early as tomorrow I have the activity to do in the early morning.

Day sixth, 4o'clock at dawn, I have to wake up in a hurry for heading to our first destination today, Mahamuni Buddha Temple.

We will travel to witness the astounding ritual which is renowned all over the world. This sacred ritual is practiced everyday at this temple for more than 200 years now. The mentioned ritual is the ritual of daily face washing of Mahamuni Buddha; moreover, this temple is considered to be one of five major pilgrimage sites of Burmese people.

Mahamuni Buddha or Rakhine Buddha Image is regarded as the most highly revered Buddha image in Myanmar. According to the legend telling that Lord Buddha has given his sacred breathing to the body of this Buddha image making Mahamuni Buddha Image has been a representative of Lord Buddha.

The Mahamuni Buddha Image was brought by King Bodawpaya after he conquered Rakhine Kingdom. The face washing ritual is the ritual that serving Lord Buddha as if he is still alive. In every morning, Mahamuni Buddha will wake up with fresh feeling, therefore, this face washing ritual commences at dawn every day.

Mahamuni Buddha Image is the seated Buddha Image in the attitude of vanquishing Mara in Myanmar style; the image is cast in bronze and has approximately 3 meters high with the right hand straightly stretch out and point down to the ground. As Mahamuni Buddha Image is the spiritual center of Burmese people since the ancient times, hence, whether they are King, royal descendant, rich men or devotee, they will offer the golden costume, jewelry, adornment or other valuable things to drape all over the Buddha image.

I arrived at the temple around 04.10am. Upon arriving, I have seen a lot of devotees wait in front of the monastery which is still locked at this moment. I wait here just only one minute, and then the officer came to open the door and let the devotee entry into the monastery.

The time is just right to me; I hurriedly walk inside so I could find the right location to witness the face washing ritual in the nearest distance. At first I sit in the area for lighting the candle and incense to worship Mahamuni Buddha Image, however, the officer directs me that I could move nearer which is the door-lintel area of the ritual. From my observation, the area inside was clearly divided into zones, I sit at the most front row of the devotees, the front zone is the area for the monk and the area that I sit at first is the area for the women. The men could sit up front enclosure to the ritual area. During waiting for the ritual to begin, the monk will prepare flower tray, washing face equipment as well as the food which will be offered to Mahamuni Buddha.

Finally, around 04.30am, the time that everyone is waiting for has arrived. The senior monk who performs the face washing ritual will enter the sanctum and begin the ritual by offering the flower tray which from my observation, the flower tray is decorated to imitate the shape of the important pilgrimage site of Burmese people, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. Afterwards, the holy music is started; the monk begins to wash the Buddha Image's mouth with holy water and take the large toothbrush to clean its teeth.

Thereafter, the monk will wipe the face with the scented water and Thanaka powder.

Then again the monk will clean Thanaka powder with the white towel that devotees offered.

I have seen that there is also the procedure of using Brasso (metal polish) to rub at the image.

And then the image will be fanned.

Then wipe the face again.

Put off the robe of Mahamuni Buddha Image and then fan the image again.

Finally, the food will be offered to Mahamuni Buddha Image and the ritual is completed. Throughout the ritual time, Burmese people will pray along. The ritual takes around an hour.

After the face washing ritual is over, I have an opportunity to apply the gold leaf to the Buddha Image and eat the food that the monk offers to Mahamuni Buddha as well as take the water that use to wash the Buddha Image face to sprinkle on my head for auspicious. The enclosure area of Mahamuni Buddha Image is not permitted for women to entry to apply the gold leaf.

This area is for the devotees who come to attend the face washing ritual by separated the area into the front part which is for men and the back part is for women.

The thickness of the gold leaf that applies on the Buddha Image has 3 inches thickness, therefore, when we touch the Buddha Image, we will feel that the image is so soft. It is pity that I did not buy the towel to offer for washing the Buddha Image face, so that I could take the towel back to revere at my home.

Mahamuni Buddha Temple has ancient bronze statues which has the dominant evidence stated that these statues were taken from Ayutthaya Kingdom by King Bayinnaung in 1563. The ancient bronze statues consist of warriors, three-headed elephant and mythical lion, these statues were regarded as the artifacts from far distance as they were built in the Khmer Kingdom for almost 1,000 years ago.

During that time, these bronze statues were considered as the invaluable properties and they will be taken to keep in the country that won the war. These statues were once situated at Ayutthaya Kingdom for 146 years and then after Ayutthaya Kingdom was siege by Burmese troop, these statues were brought to Hongsawadee city. As the war loot, these bronze statues were brought from their original place to many places and at last they were situated at Mandalay city. After the face watching ritual is completed, we back to the hotel once again for take a shower and have a breakfast before continue to other destinations.

Our second destination is Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery.

The whole structure of the monastery is constructed by the gold teak wood. Originally, this place is the residence of King Mindon Min in Mandalay palace and he also passed away at this building. After that, King Thibaw Min, the son of King Mindon Min, has dismantled and relocated the building to offer to this monastery.

The monastery has various architecture styles by the craftsmen of Mandalay city. There are the intricate wood carvings that adorn its wall and roof. The building was painted with blackish brown color oil for keeping the texture of the wood. There are the gods images carved on the roof as well.

Apart from that, there is also the carving depicting the story of 10 Jataka scenes taken from the Lord Buddha's life. This monastery is regarded as the last work piece of royal craftsmen to be seen.

The intricate carvings cover all the side of the monastery.

The legend has it that in 1945, Myanmar was under the rule of British Empire. Later, when World War II broke out, the British forces had to move back to Europe, thus, Japanese forces had the chance to capture Mandalay Palace instead. Until 20 March 1945, the airplane of British forces has flew back to drop the bomb to destroy Mandalay Palace. The flame burnt the royal residences and invaluable golden palace to the ground. Finally, the whole huge magnificent palace is devastated. Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery is the only building that was saved from the bomb attack of British Kingdom. It is because King Thibaw Min had this building removed and offered it to the monastery for making a merit to a memory of his father before the palace has been attacked by the bomb; hence, it is only one part of the whole Mandalay Palace that was saved from the devastation.

There is a little girl selling garland there, so I have her to act as the model for my photo.

Next to Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery, we walk further a bit to our third destination, Maha Atulawaiyan (Atumashi) Kyaungdawgyi) which the word Atumashi means inimitable or incomparable, thus, the monastery was also called “Incomparable Monastery".

More than a hundred years ago, this temple used to have the principal Buddha image which Burmese King has offered a huge diamond to adorn between its eyebrows making the Buddha image looks extraordinary beautiful that nothing could be compared. However, the mentioned diamond was lost during the riot before British Kingdom has taken over Mandalay city.

The arch door design pattern looks magnificent.

Inside the monastery is a spacious hall.

Walking further from Atumashi Monastery will be our fourth destination, Kuthodaw Pagoda or Royal Merit Pagoda.

Kuthodaw Pagoda or Royal Merit Pagoda was built by King Mindon Min in a memory of the Fifth Buddhist Synod. After the council, the King commanded the making of 729 marble slabs inscribed with the 84,000 texts of Tripitaka which were regarded as world's biggest Tripitaka and it was the first time in history that Tripitaka was recorded in Pali language. All of the inscribed marble slabs were housed in small pagodas which are located around Mahalawka Marazein Pagoda.

Mahalawka Marazein Pagoda has 30 meters high which was modeled on the Shwezigon Pagoda of Bagan city.

A little child selling garland, looks very cute.

Most of the merchants usually have the little children to sell the flower to the tourist for them. The cute of the children will make the tourists feel like to buy the flower. However, I did not buy the flower; I give them the candy instead.

The marble slab that is inscribed Triptaka on it.

From my perspective, the highlight of this temple is the white small pagodas of Buddhist scriptures which are everywhere around the temple. This place also surrounded by the Spanish Cherry trees.

The fifth destination is not far from the Atumashi Monastery which is Sandamuni Pagoda. The pagoda was built as a memorial to King Mindon Min younger brother, the Crown Prince Kanaung who has the talent in the military, economic and engineering. He was assassinated by the insurgent that try to overthrow the throne in the year of 1866 and it is one of the causes Myanmar lost its city to the British. The pagoda was replicated from the Shwezigon Pagoda aKuthodaw Pagoda.

Sandamuni Buddha image was casted by iron in the reign of King Bodawpaya. The Buddha image was carried reverently from Amarapura to be enshrined as the principal Buddha image at this pagoda, and the pagoda was named the Sandamuni pagoda after the Buddha image.

King Mindon Min had the pagodas built to contain the bodies of his brother along with royal family members and government official who lost their lives in the situation; and those stupas were situated around the Sandamuni pagoda. Later on, the Hermit U Khanti gathered the donations from the people to build the shrine at Mandalay Hill. There are 1774 marble slabs inscribed with commentaries on the Tripitaka in Burmese language which were housed in the white pagodas resembles to those in Kuthodaw Pagoda. Consequently, this place is filled with white pagodas which make it more beautiful to see.

Shwe In Bin Monastery and on the way we stop by to watch the demonstration of making the gold leaf. They show us from the starting point that how you hit the gold and then cut the flat gold to the desired size. Then put on the paper preparing to sell out. When I saw workers hit the gold, it seems to be so painful on their back because they have to bear a heavy hammer and bend up and down constantly.

Inside the demonstration center, they also have products that related with the gold leaf for sells as well.

Our sixth destination is at the Shwe in bin Monastery, a wooden temple which was built in 1895. The carving at this temple is not delicate like those in Shwenandaw Temple but it has its own uniqueness of Myanmar as well as others.

The temple's principle Buddha image

Inside the Temple is not as clean as they should be. From my observation, there are full of cobwebs everywhere.

Moreover, it requires us to walk as lightly as possible as there will be the sound of the wood to every step we walked. We only stay at this temple for a little while then we start to travel to our next destination which is the Mandalay Palace.

After King Mindong moved his capital city to Mandalay, he had a new palace built out of teak wood in 1857. It took around a year and a half to complete the construction. This teak wood palace is well-known as the most graceful palace of all at the time. However, during World War II, the airplane of the British forces dropped the bomb at Mandalay Palace and burnt down the palace to the ground.

Fortunately, there are still three things that remain from the bombing which are the watchtower, the city great wall and the waterway surrounding the four sides of the city which each side has a length of approximately two kilometers.

Later on, Myanmar government has built a new palace on the old one. Nowadays, the current locations are mostly for the military offices and have a very strict security. The visitors could access to the east gate side only. Furthermore, it must be asked for permission to visit at the entrance before.

Do not forget to admire the view from the tower of the palace when you have opportunity to visit here as well.

In the evening, the next program is to see the last light at the Mandalay Hill. On the way, I stopped at our eighth destination, Kyauktawgyi Temple.

The highlight of this temple is the 9 cubits size Buddha image that was casted from the 30 cubic meters marble stone and it takes only three days for the construction. This is one of the largest marble Buddha image in Myanmar. The First one that I have seen is at the Marble Buddha Temple in Yangon.

The van gradually takes us up to the high level and by looking out the window we began to see the city Mandalay on a bird view. On the way, I saw some villagers walk from the ground level to the top. In a little while, the van was parked at the parking lot. From this point, we have to walk up the stairs to the Mandalay Hill Temple by ourselves but distance is not too far.

Along the way on both sides of the stairs, there are many villagers selling stuff and we could see the getaway route to the top not so far away. If you do not want to walk up the stairs, there is the escalator to take you up as well. Moreover, there is also the elevator but I think they closed it at that time. We have to pay 500 Kyat for the camera fee here.

I reached to the top rather quick; hence, I have time to find a place to take pictures. The location that I would like to do the shooting is the bird eye view of the Sandamuni Temple which allows me to see the hundreds of white pagodas below. Nevertheless, as I was walking around the scenic spot of this temple, I do not see the perfect spot for me. At last, I decided to go down from this temple to find the location of the view of the Sandamuni Temple. In my mind, I think that if I could not find the perfect place, I will miss out both of the sunset scene and the Sandamuni Temple view .

I walk further down from the parking lot and see the stairs that lead down to somewhere. I have a hope that I could see the different scenery from the above view point as this stairs is located on the opposite side of the previous view point. While I was walking down, I start to wonder whether I am going to find it or not, but finally I saw the scenery of white pagodas that lined up in front. It's really beautiful as because if I was on the ground floor, I would have no chance to see many pagodas of Sandamuni Temple like this.

This is Kyauktawgyi Temple which is located beside Sandamuni Temple

When I have my perfect location to shoot the photo, the greedy symptoms just hit me as I want to watch the sunset again. I hurried to walk up with a pain foot. Anyway for a great picture, the pain could be endured.

When I come up to the top view of the temple once again, it appears that there are crowded by the tourists who come to watch the sunset view as well. First thing, I look for my trip mate and when I found them, I gradually squeeze past the crowd to stand with my friend and then set my tripod for taking the photo. Today, the sky is bright and blue. We have a chance to see the big egg yolks slowly disappeared behind the mountains.

The golden light shines through the trees and houses with a thin mist above. It actually looks very beautiful.

I waited for a while to see the last light; it does not seem to appear so I decided to head back. Unfortunately, while I was heading back, the last light just appeared on the sky. We could not park to take picture of the last light at that time, as the road is quite narrow and steep. Moreover, there are other cars on the road, I regret very much indeed.

Today's dinner, we will have the dinner at Ko Thai restaurant again as we all love the taste of Thai food here. We have reserved a table since yesterday evening already. Actually, the table is full but as our tour guide is very tricky we could get the table at six and a half. They also request a deposit in advance for the reservation. Obviously, if we do not book in advance, tonight we definitely could not eat Thai food. After dinner, we head back to the hotel; we have to sleep early as tomorrow's morning we have to fly to Inle city.

Please follow us to the next chapter, Inle Lake and Yangon.

Myanmar Now or Never # 3 : Inle Lake , Yangon