Up to the end of the 19th century, when the British colonized the Burmese kingdom, the kings liked changing the sit of the capital every couple generations. This was mainly due to some premonitions or signs by the Guardian spirits, and it made them take the palace (literally), and put it somewhere else (obviously not very far). So in the last couple of the days we were able to see several of this towns that just to be the political and religious heart of Myanmar.
After a few days crossing the plateau that separated Inle lake with the lowland around Mandalay, we managed to get to Amarapura for sunrise, unfortunately it was cloudy, so we didn’t really see any sun that day.
In this former capital we crossed the world’s longest teak bridge, which is over a kilometer long, and watched the lunch ritual in a temple. Over a thousand monks and novices in line, entering slowly the hall with the bowls full of the food they had begged for around the village.
Amarapura didn’t have much more to see, so by noon we were already in Mandalay, the second biggest city in Myanmar and also a former capital. This city had much more to see, but just walking around was fun enough. Myanmar in general seems to be a quite relaxed place, and even if this was a big city we could still see it.
The center of town is occupied by the royal palace. After moving it around it finally ended here when the british invaded in the 19th century, and it was not relocated. We didn’t enter because the ticket was quite expensive, but cycling around it was fun too. (It’s the picture on the top)
There is a hill here, very holy, with several pagodas, and it’s said that 2500 years ago when Buddha climbed looked back and foresaw that a great city was going to build here. And as a self fulfilling prophecy a king many centuries later build one.
The art of puppetry is dying basically everywhere in Myanmar, but in Mandalay there is still a place where you can enjoy a show. It’s partly in english, and even if the pieces of the plays are quite simple, the interaction with the public and that sometimes they lift the curtain to be able to see the puppeteers makes it fun. It’s also interesting that they make a little comparison between a puppet and a woman dancing.
In one of the pagodas there is the world’s biggest book. Several thousand stones that tell stories and teachings of Buddha.
The next day we crossed the river. And ended up in Mingun. Again a former capital that has a 150 meter high pagoda project that was long ago abandoned. It makes a quite interesting sight, but it seems just like a square made of bricks.
The ride from there to Sagain, 15 km south, is very beautiful. Lots of small bamboo houses and you can see the traditional lifestyle next to river, and once in Sagain the views from the top are amazing. This is one of the most important places to learn the teachings of Buddha in Myanmar. We were lucky to be hosted in one pagodas that offer courses in English too. We didn’t attend any, but it’s good to know that they exist.
And from here we will go straight to Bagan, one of the most iconic places of the whole country.