Mandalay was not my favourite city in Burma, but it was MUCH more interesting than the current capital, Yangon (formerly "Rangoon"). Mandalay has a variety of nightly performances, including puppet shows, comedy troupes, and traditional dance. Also, like the other parts of the country I've seen, there are many Buddhist pagodas and monasteries, and don't forget The Glass Palace!
How to get around in Mandalay? Call Mr. Trishaw! As you walk down the streets of Mandalay there is no shortage of 'trishaw' drivers competing for your business. On one occasion a driver actually followed us for 2 blocks, then into a tea house where he continued to pester us. He showed us a book with signatures and notes from his many satisfied customers. "Look, I have served many Canadians! I have many Canadian friends!" he said, trying to win us over as we tried to look at our menus. In the end we went back to this guy (see photo) who had said only "I'll be here by this tree if you need me." and didn't follow us at all. If anyone is in Mandalay and needs a good trishaw guy you can contact him at Mr.email@example.com - his name is "Toke Paw".
Mr. Trishaw pedalled us around Mandalay for 2 days to many great sites. Here are some white pagodas near the base of Mandalay hill.
Believe it or not, this is a BOOK. Yes, a massive piece of literature carved into a thousand or so pieces of stone, each one with it's own little house. Can Ian read between the lines?
Locals also use the trishaws to get around. This lady uses the extra seat for her shopping.
Old monastery constructed out of intricately carved sandalwood.
Famous with the people and infamous with the government, Burmese comedian Par Par Lay poses in handcuffs. He has been arrested and put in prison 3 times for his unrelenting criticism of the Burmese government. His brother (on the right) is also a member of Par Par Lay's "Moustache Brothers Troupe".
After the performance we had our picture taken with this hero of satire, AND we got t-shirts! Notice the face on my shirt.
Mandalay in summary is a good place for sightseeing with a few good evening entertainment options, as long as you don't mind being followed by desperate trishaw drivers during the day, you should have a good time.
Up next, the stunning sights of Bagan!