By far my most exciting trip was to Mandalay; a place I had been told was like no other on the planet. Everything I was told was true and then some; Mandalay is an exciting but at the same time contemplative place where many cultures come together. There were foods and assorted clothing, jewelry and art from throughout Asia and I saw items that had Chinese, Vietnamese and other unknown influences. I saw painted bamboo fans, detailed bronze Buddha statues, woodcarvings of elephants, silver picture frames and clothing of all shapes, sizes and colors.
The royal palace of Mandalay is an impressive golden palace that took my breath away immediately; I knew within moments that I was gazing upon a royal building that had stood for many centuries. I was extremely grateful that I was allowed to tour this building and took away memories of gold-accented furniture and ornate architecture throughout the palace.
After seeing the royal palace I went into a bustling part of Mandalay where I was able to witness a play performed with marionettes. While I could not understand all of what was going on the laughter of children attending watching made it an awesome time. Thinking about how I was entertained in America with television compared to this very elaborate live performance made me truly grateful to be able to experience such a foreign and entertaining place.
After some live entertainment I headed off to bed and woke up the next day and went to a magical place I had heard about called Mandalay Hill. The trek up the mountain was easy going and allowed me to take in some of the scenic beauty Mandalay had to offer. Reaching the top of the mountain was a great reward for the hike and the view was stunning. I could see for miles in every direction and could make out rivers, temples and small villages off in the distance.
The Kayauktawgyi pagoda was the next area I visited. This pagoda featured white spires among impossibly lush, green foliage. There were also elaborate flower beds surrounding the pagoda which were in full bloom while I was there and the small stream that ran near this place added to its mystique as well.
The Kuthodaw Pagoda was the next place I visited and it was one of the most elaborate and regal looking buildings I had ever seen. Much of wall’s surfaces in this place beared extremely elaborate carvings that were symmetrical and present on either side of the structure. The amount of gold present in this place really set the building and surrounding area ablaze for my senses and was larger than life in many instances.
The Sandamni Pagoda was a very old and delicate looking place, I was actually scared to walk up the steps because I thought they would crumble away, although after seeing the locals walking up the steps and touch the walls I felt comfortable enough to do it myself. The sheer age of parts of this pagoda were astonishing, the spires were an awesome sight as well. Awe-inspiring white peaks reaching into the sky with gold tips, dozens of these buildings doing this at the same time was indescribable at sunset.
Mandalay truly is a place you have to see if you are going to visit Myanmar, its vast and diverse culture alone makes it worth the trip. The architecture and sunsets pushed me over the top during my stay here and there are some things I wish I could see each and every day. Photographs cannot begin to describe this magical place, I only wish I had more time here.
Mandalay, 18 June 2010