Amarapura, Mingun, Sagaing, U Bein Bridge, Mandalay

It was one ambitious day of squeezing so many places in a day. We had breakfast at hotel, and checked out at 8.30am. Our first stop of the day was longyi workshop in Amarapura. All these times, I never understand how weaving machine works. Upon observation in this workshop, I finally got some basic idea how the machine works and how the pattern is formed. Weaving is a hard work.

In the longyi workshop

Then we went to Mahagandayon Monastery. At 10.20 am, the monks will queue to get their food. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of monks. The notice board requested tourist to be quiet, however, of course, most tourists were too excited with this rare sights, so they were capturing photos with cameras, phones, ipads. Everyone was trying to get the best angle, and many people are even standing on the middle of the road before the ceremony started. And a lottttt of the tourists donated food and money by putting them on top of the bowls that monks were carrying.

Near Mahagandayon Monastery

Honestly I was not happy with all the eager tourists. Firstly, the monks are supposed to practice awareness in daily life, thus tourists need to stop disturbing them by taking photos and causing so much noise. Secondly, when tourists put so many things on monk’s bowl, the monk ended up carrying heavy stuff due to selfishness of the tourists. Thirdly, tourists need not give money directly to monks, they can donate through the temple organisation. Monks are practicing minimalist life without material, so there is no need to give them material stuffs. I really hope there will be some security officers that could control the situation in the future. Call me selfish, it’s just my honest feeling.

Notice for tourists
Monks lining up to collect food

Okay enough about complaint. Moving on, we made our way to Mingun. We passed by Ayeyarwady bridge on the way and saw Ave Bridge. Upon reaching, we had lunch at one of the local restaurant by the river. After lunch, we visited Mingun Paya (the unfinished pagoda), Mingun Bell and Hsin-byu-me Pagoda (white pagoda). They are all located very near to each other.

Ayeyarwady Bridge
Lunch at Mingun
View from Mingun Paya
The staircase leading to the top of Mingun Paya
View from Mingun Paya
View from Mingun Paya
Staircase of Mingun Paya
Mingun Paya
Some rocks
Beach in Mingun
Beach in Mingun
Mingun Bell
Mingun Bell
Mingun White Pagoda
Mingun White Pagoda
Mingun White Pagoda
Mingun White Pagoda

After Mingun, our next stop is Sagaing. In Sagaing, we visited Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda where we can see sagaing area and Ayeyarwady river from the hill (our driver called it Asian Pagoda), and U Min Thonze Caves where you can see a row of beautiful Buddha statues. We didn’t spend much time in Sagaing because we need to rush to go to U Bein Bridge in Amarapura for sunset.

Amazed seeing lorry crane in a small road
Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda
Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda
Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda
Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda
Artist at work
U Min Thonze Caves

After sunset, we had dinner at Tom Yum Goong 2 in Amarapura. We had their mookata buffet for 8000 kyats/person excluding drink. It was a really good bargain. Furthermore, the environment was very relaxed and romantic. We were very happy with the dinner, and we highly recommend it to people visiting Amarapura. We then took JJ express bus around 9.30pm to Nyaung Shwe (Inle).

It’s hard to believe this photo is real and not a painting! Before sunset at Amarapura
Amazing sunset at U-bein Bridge, Amarapura
The amazing twilight just after sunset at U-bein Bridge, Amarapura

Date visited: 25 October 2014

Mandalay Sightseeing: Maha Muni, Royal Palace, Golden Palace Monastery, Largest Book, Mandalay Hill

It was the worse overnight bus we took in Myanmar. My friend almost vomit, and I was cursing about the loud yell every time the bus stop at any drop off point. We arrived in Mandalay bus station at 2am. Upon arriving, there are many shouting in local language, I’m not sure if it’s some arguments, or they are just trying to get attention of bus passengers. And it was very dark and dirty at the bus station.

What makes the whole thing worst is our terrible driver. He was not there when we arrived, we called him and the phone was off. Eventually we called our travel agent in Yangon, and he made some calls, and told us to wait a while. So we sat down in a rundown coffee shop until he showed up at 2.45am. Then we went to hotel to check in and rest til morning.

We were all fresh and ready for breakfast at 9am, unfortunately the hotel breakfast was already finished at 9am. So we had to eat outside. Our driver drove us to Mandalay Donuts. There was not many selection of food there, only donuts, bakeries, some fried snacks, and noodle. We ordered noodle, and we were served instant cup noodles! So much for the first impression of Mandalay.

Our first stop for sightseeing of the day is Maha Muni Pagoda. At the center of pagoda, there is a section where only men are allowed inside. The statue of Buddha is located at this center section. Men pray and give donation in the form of golden leaf. They would stick the golden leaf on the statue. Due to overwhelming amount of golden leaf on the statue at Maha Muni, the shape of the statue has changed, only the face remains the same as original statue.

Maha Muni Pagoda

Our next stop is marble carving street. It was a street with many vendors selling carved marbles. We bought a rabbit marble for 2500 kyats. Then we went to a golden leaf beating workshop. We saw the process of beating gold, to be made into golden leaf for donation. Our lunch was at Unique Restaurant.

Marble carving
Myanmar umbrellas
Beating the gold
Sticking of gold to statue
Lunch at Unique Restaurant

After lunch, we explored the Royal Palace. It was really a big complex with so many halls. There is a watch tower too. For some of the halls, there is a wood shelter on the roof.

In front of Royal Palace
In front of Royal Palace
Inside Royal Palace
The magnificent Royal Palace
At Royal Palace, view from top of watch tower
View from watch tower at Royal Palace

Then we went to Atumashi Monastery, before heading to nearby Golden Palace Monastery (Shwe Nandaw Kyaung). I love love love the wood carvings on the doors, door frames, and walls. Afterwards, we went to Kuthodaw Pagoda to see the World’s largest book. And eventually we waited at Mandalay Hill for the sunset.

Atumashi Monastery
Inside Atumashi Monastery, nothing much
The wonderful wood carving at Shwe Nandaw Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery)
At Golden Palace Monastery
Very sweet door at Golden Palace Monastery
The Golden Palace Monastery
Kuthodaw Pagoda (the world’s largest book)
And this is one page of the world’s largest book
A humble nun
The miniature of Kuthodaw Pagoda
Kuthodaw Pagoda
Mandalay Hill rooftop
View from Mandalay Hill
View from Mandalay Hill
At Mandalay Hill
Sunset from Mandalay Hill
Sunset from Mandalay Hill
Sunset from Mandalay Hill

Our dinner was at Rainforest Restaurant, a decent thai food restaurant, also in Tripadvisor list. After dinner, we went back to hotel and rest early because we were going to have a long day the next day.

Dinner at Rainforest Restaurant

Date visited: 24 October 2014