Our Irrawaddy cruise started and ended in Mandalay and perhaps our visit to Mandalay Hill was the fitting end to our introduction to this fabulous country. Khin our guide led the driver through the back streets of Mandalay trying to avoid the New Year well wishers, for well wishers read children with buckets of water keen to get passers by wet….to cleanse their spirit if not their body in the intense heat of April, we loved seeing their excitement.
We were dropped right at the foot of the hill to first enjoy Kuthodaw Pagoda – now Myanmar like many Asian countries has more than it’s fair share of temples but what impressed me about Myanmar was how different each temple or pagoda appeared to be. This pagoda had rows and rows of tiny shrines each with a stone page of the world’s largest book and of course the obligatory golden stupa. I didn’t tire of seeing these dazzle in the late afternoon sun along with the decorative golden leering dragons with bright red mouths and tongues.
Our driver then took us to the top of Mandalay Hill; there is no way that The Grey Traveller would have wanted to have climbed this winding road despite the fantastic views at the top. Khin Nyein Thu – our fantastic Myanmar guide timed our visit just right and we emerged at the top just as the sun was beginning to set.
Su Taung Pyae Pagoda was the icing on the cake, the shiny mosaic patterns decorating the pillars sparkled in the late afternoon sun, whilst many people gathered to watch the sun go down over Mandalay. From this height we could make out the area where the Bagan King is situated, we stayed there the night before our Irrawaddy cruise with Sanctuary Retreats and proved to be a hit for price, location, views, staff and food. We could also see the river, the major buildings of the city such as the University and many stupas. What a way to end a trip, sundown on Mandalay Hill.