Wondering the streets of Mandalay
10.08.2011 - 10.08.2011 30 °C
With many of the tourist sights around and about Mandalay now visited we were able to spend a day wondering the streets of Mandalay with no particular goal or purpose. Life in Myanmar is very different to that which we are used to. Trishaws are often used to carry vast loads on metal and wood. Horse drawn carts, piled high with yellowing hay, are not an unusual sight in the city. A constant stream of friendly waves and smiles, shouts of ‘hello’ and ‘where are you from’ greet us. This is not a country to visit aloof from the locals but to dive into. Spending time talking with local people understanding their hardships, their trials and tribulations offers an often sad insight into what we might consider to be courageous lives.
Walking down busy streets four feet high walls and large bowls, next to a stream provide, for a Burmese shower where the more voyeuristically inclined can watch longyi clothed locals showering, essentially, in the street. A similar sight had greeted us in Amarapura the previous day with swimmers in the lake not for their pleasure or physical exercise but to wash, in the brown colored water of the lakes.
On previous visits to Myanmar I had stayed away from Mandalay told it was a dirty city with little to offer. This is only partly true. Dust and dirt from the roads is a problem but as a portal to traditional city life in Myanmar it has few equals. Where Yangon might have relative sophistication, compared to the rest of the country, Mandalay still evokes a time, long passed in the more ‘sophisticated’ west. A simpler time where the ability and need to laugh, smile and simply talk had not been lost or forgotten.