11 January -Day trip to outer Mandalay

Another day, another night of little sleep due to the karaoke bar that seemed to be next to our window, and a pigeon that was actually nesting on our window sill and the bed which had no foam left in it!
We had arranged for taxi to go to see sights just outside of Mandalay – as listed in the lonely planet. We had a new driver arranged for today as we didn’t really want to take our chances with the same one that left us stranded last night. So our drivers (!) today turned up, with red eyes and teeth to match, clutching parcels of betel nut, and a car that was ram shackled, which was comforting. And off we bounced, past everyone in cafes, having breakfast wearing in all their clothes and hats, scarves, as it was chilly, about 16 degrees.
The drive out of Mandalay was interesting. We drove down Buddha carving street, which was covered in white marble dust, it was everywhere, on the pavements, people, trees, and there were a lot of buddhas in various stages of being carved, with the occasional elephant for a bit of variety.
We then took a dual carriageway out of town, however this was still being built in various places so every so often we were veering to the other side of the road as there was no road our side. Myanmar is also unique in that they drive right hand drive cars on the right hand side of the road. Which is quite odd when you are not used to it.
Our first sight was Sagaing, a hillside with hundreds of stupas all over it, and another steep climb to the top to see a stunning view, although the mist doesn’t do it justice in photos, it is a unique view with hundreds of stupas dotted all over the hillside and covered pathways linking them all.

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We climbed back down the hill, only to find our car had buggered off again! We were stunned, however a few minutes later the red teethed pair turned up, full of smiles and apologies! We smiled and were polite too!
They then dropped us off at a small boat crossing, to go to Inwa, where you hire a horse and cart and are driven around to a teak monestry which looked like the ones in Japan, another stupa and more Burmese temples. At the stupa I was followed around by a persistent young hawker, he couldn’t have been much older than Meg, 6. He was adamant that I needed some fake jade jewellery, I resisted, however he was coerced into taking photos of me, guy and some Myanmar students who were extremely excited to talk to us, they were studying English, chemistry and maths at university and had holidays to travel and see their country.

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Then it was off to see the worlds longest teak bridge, at 1.2km it seemed much, much longer when traversing it, it was ricketty and had a fair few holes in, we bought a packet of chicken curry crisps the other side and walked back, carefully, helping a small boy over the bridge on his bike which was laden with about 20kg of cooked, uncovered, rice.

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It was still pretty early, so we stopped off at a massive golden Buddha, that only men are allowed to touch! It was weird seeing such sexism, but at least I could see it from a distance, and on one of the numerous TV screens around the monestary!

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Just one more teak monestary to see, which was quiet, no tourists and impressive and we were back home for dinner.
We lucked out on dinner, we had seen a place that had English writing so thought we might be able to choose a meal, it was also near to an Islamic mosque, and the menu looked the same as the night before, so we chose the same, mutton meatballs, also a biriyani. It was delicious, same as before we got loads of cold dishes and pickles, and our curry and biriyani was tepid, but the chapatis were fresh off the hotplate and the whole meals was very north Indian in taste. We have made a mental note to always eat near mosques!

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