14 december Nyaung Shwe (MYANMAR)

82° day

This morning we woke up quite early. I go out to the road along the canal.
I look around in amazement. It seems like a documentary ...
Three men with traditional Vietnamese hat are sitting along the canal, a cycle-rickshaw is carrying a big woman with almond eyes, two small boys in  white and green uniform are happy going to school, two old ladies with their heads wrapped in a colored towel are going to the market.

Along the way to the market of Nyaung Shwe we are attracted by the chanting coming from what looked like a monastery.
[Stefy]: "I could not believe it! Here before us a score of children, young Buddhist monks, who prayed by reciting a mantra, they had been standing up for long time, they were not allowed to sit. We were really caught up. They were small and  wanted to play with each other, some pulled his tunic, passing each other  the prayer mat as it was a football but everything returned in order when the master arrived.
We stayed about an hour watching those little monks returned to their large dormitory.

We take a walk along the shore of the lake enetering the surrounding villages ... we have met plenty of pure and honest smiles.

We got to a temple  with a huge Buddha who majestically was dominating the scene, a village in the background ... we went towards it. From the piles some families called us to invite us to enter their homes.
What a beautiful experience sitting in a house surrounded by Burmese  sweet and sunny faces, we were offered mandarins and millions of smiles.


15 december Mandalay (MYANMAR)

Save me from drowning in the sea…” - so Robbie Williams used to sing  in his superb "Road to Mandalay".
Our road to Mandalay, however,  was really hard ... twelve-hour bus along winding roads listening to the worst music ever, my stomach has cursed me, but fortunately held up!

Eventually we reach this ancient Burmese city at dawn and aboard a pickup truck, together with a local family, we arrive at our hotel booked from Yangoon: ET Hotel.

We meet again the nice Basque Virginia known at Inle Lake, and after resting a couple of hours we share the discovery of three ancient cities in the vicinity of Mandalay.

Amarapura. The cities of the  "immortality", famous for the U Bein's bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world that connects the village of Kyauktawgyi Paya  to Taungthaman.

It was very impressive walking on it amazed by the various views of the landscape. What better ending of a pancake of prawns and a huge crab at the end of the crossing?

Below the bridge, fishermen were throwing nets to withdraw immediately full of fish.

Inwa. We must take a boat to reach the other bank of the river and a cart pulled by a horse to admire the ruins of this ancient city, now deceased, but for four centuries: the capital of Burma in the past.

Sagaing. After overcoming Ava bridge we reach Sagaing Hill. Sacred and picturesque place thanks to the many stupas that seem to sprout from everywhere as large golden mushrooms.
It is hard enough to win the top by climbing the steps that seem to never end! But once on top the view offered  repays you of all the sweat poured!

I stop to chat with a Buddhist monk who is  resting outside one of the many temples. Finally someone who speaks English! I have a thousand questions to ask, I'm very intrigued by their lives, their rigor, their discipline. Talking to him I discover that not all the ones we see around are  "monks" in the strict sense of the word, many wear the red tunic for very short periods in order to please their parents (as in his case) or just to "elevate the spirit." This discovery has left me somewhat perplexed .

Time to go back to Amarapura to admire the sunset from U Bein Bridge.

Each word is superfluous to praise the magnificent spectacle and my heart still beats when I think back to the scene of monks walking, in single line, along the long walk in wood while the sun gave place to darkness!


16 december Mandalay (MYANMAR) 84° day

[Stefy]: "We are ready for the long walk that will lead us to the conquest of Mandalay Hill. We walk past the Royal Palace and we find ourselves in a kind of procession to admire the "tooth of Buddha" coming directly from China...

After eating a corn and a banana along  the road, step by step, we reach the top of the hill where we have a 360 degree view of the whole city. "

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