Arriving in Mandalay mid-morning it was obvious that a heavy rainstorm had occurred during the night. The air was clean and crisp and there was a vividness about the colors that follow sudden downpours. Our small group of travelers were in good mood after 5 days in Burma (now called Myanmar) and despite frequent thunderstorms were enjoying mixing with the locals in the street markets and observing their reverence as they prostrated themselves before Buddha in the incensed fumed temples. Careful to observe the rituals we had also bought perfume scented flowers from the street sellers and carefully hung them from the alter in the hope of improving our karma while the last of the rainy season storms filled the ricefields and we dodged under cover to continue our sightseeing.
Much to our surprise we were informed that the famous Mandalay road is in fact its river, the Ayerwaddy, which we were due to get a glimpse of when we ascended Mandalay hill for the “glorious sunset”, as promised in our literature. But first we visited the Golden Palace Monastery and the “Largest book in the World” pagoda which consists of 729 marble tablets carved with the Buddhist sacred writings and then broke for lunch. Due to its geographical positioning between two of the world’s great culinary countries, India and China, Burmese food surprises visitors with its subtleness and variety and so far none of our group had succeeded in losing any of the pounds they’d hoped for on leaving home. With the heat back in renewed force we retreated to our rooms to coolly contemplate the chances of seeing a sunset instead of the aerial pyrotechnics witnessed the previous night. Continue reading