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Irrawaddy Cruise to Mandalay - Friday, 27 January 2017

Disembark the ship today.

sunny 30 °C

Up very early and down to breakfast at 6.30 am as our bags had to be out by 7.15 am. I had a pretty good night's sleep but my voice is just about gone and it hurts a lot when I cough. I am blaming the dreadful fine powdery dust that is everywhere. It hasn't rained since October and everything is covered in it. It's awful.

Bye bye Scenic Aura!

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We can't check in to our Mandalay hotel until 2.00 pm, so we are going on a sight seeing tour this morning.

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First stop is a gold leaf workshop and we watched a very fit young man bash a packet of gold that will eventually stretch and become gold leaf. It is very labour intensive work and I just can't imagine doing that very day. We went to look in the shop but it all seemed very expensive to me. All the prices were in American dollars.

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We continued on to the Mahamuni Pagoda, where the guys in our group were allowed to put gold leaf on one of the Buddah statues. None of them did. It is a huge complex and very, very busy. Lots of people from the villages come to visit it only once in their lifetime and it is a very special occasion for them.

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Our new tour guide! (Heaven help us!)

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These ladies had come from a village up north for a pilgrimage to the pagoda. They were causing a lot of attention in their unusual dress, especially the head dress and Susan spoke with them and they posed for photos for us. I think they were a bit bemused by all the attention they were receiving.

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All these candles were being laid out because the grandmother of the King of Buhtan was coming to visit the Pagoda.

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If you have an ailment, all you have to do is rub that part of your body on one of these bronze statues and you will be healed. So, I rubbed my very sore throat on it but I don't think it's working.

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We are getting very good at finding our Saturday corner and pouring water on Buddah's head.

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Driving along these streets is fascinating. It is the place where all the Buddahs are carved. They are EVERYWHERE, in all shapes and sizes.

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We visited Shwenandaw, a beautiful wooden monastery. It had a lot of gold leaf inside and the roof was lovely too.

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There was a sign at the foot of the steps telling people to put their shoes in the shoe rack. Ingrid, Elfie and I were the only ones who took any notice of the sign!

We went to Kuthodaw Pagoda where the World's Largest Book is housed. It has 729 pages, all inscribed on a tablet and each tablet is housed in it's own pagoda. Very fascinating. We were wandering around the area when a Middle Eastern man asked us where the largest book in the world was and we said "Here". "Oh", he said, "I thought this was a cemetery!"

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We then went to the Royal Palace for a quick visit.

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By this stage, we are getting pretty hungry as we had breakfast at 6.30 am so we met up with Team B and a nice lunch spot in down town Mandalay. It was a very wholesome meal of asparagus soup, and then steak, chicken or fish and vegies, followed by fruit. And a beer. Very nice. This tree is in the middle of the restaurant and during the old days, it was actually outside the restaurant, but times have changed and so has the road and the restaurant has been built around the tree.

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Then finally we arrived at the Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel. It is very nice and we have been given a suite, with a separate lounge room and a balcony overlooking the mountain. It is very tastefully furnished.

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We had time for a quick nap before our taxi took us up Mandalay Hill so we could view the sunset. Up on top was a huge surprise. An enormous temple was up there and a lot of people, all with the same idea. It is very high up, shoes off again for the fourth time today (!) but thank goodness there were three escalators to take us up and the most amazing thing - when the sunset viewing was over, the escalators reversed themselves and took us down! Amazing technology for such a developing country as Myanmar.

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We had just enough time to dress for our farewell dinner. Us, the A Team, will be travelling to all corners of the globe tomorrow and the B Team is continuing on to Inle Lake for a few days and then home. It was sad to say goodbye to them as the whole group has been really nice and friendly with a lot of friendly banter between the A and the B team.

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Phil and Mike (from the UK - nice guy)

Buddhist saying for the day - "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth".

Posted by gaddingabout 08:00 Archived in Myanmar

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