Asia | South East Asia | Burma (Myanmar) | Mandalay – The road to Mandalay…

Asia | South East Asia | Burma (Myanmar) | Mandalay – The road to Mandalay…

There are busses and busses and strangely enough, the busses here in Burma are a class above the ones in India and Nepal!
The overnight trip from Yangoon to Mandalay was almost comfortable. Almost. I mean it’s still a bus, no?, no matter how comfortable… meaning that our first day in Mandalay was an easy one, just walking around the fort, eating a bit here and there on street stalls while trying to communicate with the locals with the little Burmese I’ve learned sofar. My accent and limited vocabulary makes them burst with laughter but in a friendly way. Just another reason to have fun!
In spite of what the title may imply, we’ve come to the conclusion that dear old Rudyard Kipling never actually got here, at least not if we have to go buy his writings! No lazy sea to be looking at here! Quite a few artistic liberties taken there!

Climbing Mandalay hill seems a never ending story. You get to yet another little chapel with Buddhas and hope, no know that there can’t possibly be more stairs going up… wrong again. We met up with an extremely friendly monk who guided us up, encouraging us for the last few stretches… and explained about his monastery that we can see down the hill.
Once we’re heading down, we’re followed by some young Burmese dying to try their English on us. “Could I speak English with you please?” “May I introduce myself?”
“Where are you from?” “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” – they all ask the same questions over and over again, and they sound pretty confident. Problems arise when you get out of their course material…

The next morning we were off to Mingun, one of the four Ancient Cities around Mandalay. A lovely little village with a huge base for a stupa that got so damaged in an earthquake that they never finished building it… The king that had commissioned it did think big however, only the base is already over 50 meters high, so imagine what it would have been once finished!
Sagaing, another of the four Cities and our afternoon excursion, was a bit disappointing – guess that yet another hill with stairs and Buddhas was just too much for me…

The evening made up for it though, after a typical Burmese meal with excellent quails eggs curry (and loads of side dishes that were too many to remember them all!), we were entertained by the Moustache Brothers. A small family cabaret and dance group with a rebellious streak – one of the Brothers has just been released from 7 years of prison…for making a joke about the traffic police…it’s no wonder people do watch over their shoulders a lot…

Getting up awfully early tomorrow morning to catch the boat to Bagan, the amazing temple city. Hope this will be a welcome change to the usual bus travels!

For those of you who don’t know the poem:

MANDALAY – Rudyard Kipling

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say;
“Come you back, you British Soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay;
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles clunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
An’ ‘er name was Supi-Yaw-Lat jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud–
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd–
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay …

When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-la-lo!”
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek again my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
Elephants a-piling teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay …

But that’s all shove be’ind me — long ago and fur away,
An’ there ain’t no ‘buses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay …

I am sick ‘o wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
An’ the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and–
Law! wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay . . .

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there ain’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, and it’s there that I would be–
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

Category : Asia | South East Asia | Burma (Myanmar) | Mandalay , Uncategorized