Coco took us on a walking tour of Mandalay this morning. It was probably a bit too hot for walking around and the pollution didn’t help much either. You could almost taste the petrol in the air on the gridlocked streets. At one point we sat outside a bank for twenty minutes while some of the group exchanged money and a nice security guard brought us some stools to sit on. Central Mandalay has a bit of a gritty appearance although the huge Mandalay Palace complex is the exception to this. Its site covers a large number of city centre blocks, part of which is still an active military base. The palace has almost been entirely rebuilt after extensively World War 2 bombing and the outside walls and moat look nice. I didn’t venture inside as by that point I’d had enough of being out in the 38C sun.
This morning I discovered what many Burmese women and sometimes children have on their faces. It’s called thanaka and is a paste made from tree bark. Apparently it has cosmetic properties that enhances skin appearance, as well as acting as a natural sun block. There was some at our hotel for guests to use although I never personally got the urge to try it!
This afternoon some people were going to visit a monastery containing the second largest bell in the world. I didn’t fancy an hour each way boat ride in this heat. At least not for the second biggest bell! Someone had a brain wave about trying to find a hotel pool that would let us in. We eventually found one and to quote Ali, one of the younger members of the group, the pool was pimping. Or pimpin’ as it’s probably spelt! It was so nice to be able to jump into the water and not be sweltering. As pimpin’ as the pool was, it was also expensive. With prices in US dollars it was obvious that it was some sort of fancy tourist place. I couldn’t justify spending $15 on a (admittedly nice looking) burger. With tax and service charge added this made it almost £15. Instead I settled for a couple of beers which even at $3.80 were about three times the going rate in Myanmar. It was worth it though.
Afterwards we went up Mandalay Hill at sunset. There’s a nice monastery to look around but it wasn’t one of the better sunsets that I’ve seen. Due to the haze you could barely see any of the city from the hill and the sun itself disappeared prematurely. Although I preferred Yangon to Mandalay, it was fine enough to spend a couple of days, a solid 6/10 sort of place.