Chaotic taxi driving delivers not unexpected results
12.08.2011 - 12.08.2011 30 °C
Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay, Myanmar
Determined to complete our rain curtailed exploration of the town of Pyin Oo Lwin we once again spend some forty minutes walking into town, passing a number of old colonial buildings, many of which are now Government run hotels. Yet once again nature contrives against us. Reaching the market an early rain shower commences. Sheltering once again in our now familiar bakery we await a respite. Yet, it does not come and once again we find ourselves with horse and carriage, returning to our hotel. Yet, history repeats for as we ascend the rain ceases. Clearly an exploration of the city is not in our interest. Returning to the hotel we await our shared taxi back to Mandalay.
This time we are joined not only by another Burmese girl but also a mother and her two small children, residing in the more expensive but now rather crushed front seat. As the previous day our driver is a man in a hurry. Hurtling down from the high plateau we screech past other vehicles travelling at a more lugubrious pace. Overtaking where other drivers might consider such actions folly we bounce on the surfaced road and dirt edges with Mandalay a destination that clearly does not like to be kept waiting.
With our driver no other driver is safe on the roads as one other taxi was to find out. Overtaking a slow moving lorry at what our driver clearly thought was too slow a pace we ram the other taxi. Nothing serious but enough to break our indicator lights and require a conversation with ‘the other party’ at the side of the road. With our driver resigned to looking at the damage a good natured, smiling and joking conversation followed. With neither driver apparently concerned with the new bumps and scratches that had been added to their admittedly already ‘aged’ vehicles we are soon back to our usual formula one driving style with no exchange of names, insurance details (!) or the like necessary or apparently expected.
Returning to our previous hotel in Mandalay we are greeted as almost long lost friends. Chilled lemongrass tea and soft face towels conclude our brief journey. With little time before the afternoon monsoon a gentle walk takes us to some of the temples found at the base of Mandalay Hill. Refusing to purchase the governments temple ticket some we can visit freely, others we can only look at over walls.
At Atumashi Kyanug, built by King Mindon in 1857, we could see traditional Burmese monastic construction – a masonary base topped by a wooden building. Kuthodaw Paya frequently dubbed ‘the world’s largest book’ includes 729 marble slabs, each carved with part of the entire fifteen books of the Tripitaka, and individually housed within their own white stupa. Whilst Kyauktawgyi Paya houses a 26ft, 900-tonne Buddha, carved from a single block of marble.
Comfortable in our now familiar surroundings a cold beer and supper of spring rolls and fried noodles were easy to locate. Sadly, tomorrow would be our last full day in Mandalay but we expected to go out with a bang.