Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mandalay, Inside and Out

We had two full days in Mandalay so we spent one day wandering around the inside and one day scootin' around the outlying countryside on the back of motorbikes.

Inside the city we watched a street performer with snakes, visited the temples on Mandalay Hill, bought a train ticket from the station, and went to the outdoor market. The afternoon sun heated up the city like a hotplate. The sidewalks were all cracked and you could see either discolored stagnant water or rats down in the gutters. Everything was always coated with a layer of dust, including us. Still, people were going about their business and seemed delighted to see us walking around. Many people smiled at us and said hello. We felt very welcome and safe. The moon that night was the prettiest orange circle I'd ever seen in my life.


That night, we went to see the notorious Mustache Brothers perform their hour long comedy show. It was a mix of comedy and cultural dances mixed with a little insight into some of the struggles citizens face due to the government. It was interesting and entertaining.

Par Par Lay (left) served three separate sentences in jail breaking rocks in a chain gang for telling jokes the government deemed inappropriate. Needless to say, freedom of speech is sorely missed in Burma. The brothers are only allowed to perform in their garage and in English. The government doesn't mess with tourists so they said that we keep them safe by going to the shows.

 
The next day we had our hotel find us two guys willing to take us around the countryside on the back of their motorbikes. We just got on and they took us to one place after the other. They always said, "take your time" and would read newspapers and hang out by the bikes or at little roadside stands while we explored. We went to all sorts of places: shops, temples, workshops, and a restaurant. The countryside was beautiful and the people we saw always smiled back at us. It was dusty, hot, and beautiful.


The next day we made our way back to Rangoon for our flight back to Bangkok. It had been a glorious and adventurous nine days in Burma. We had a few days R&R in Bangkok before heading to our final country on this trip: India!

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