After 19 hours from Helsinki, with a long layover in Bangkok, I finally arrived in Mandalay super beat.
The travel from the airport to the hostel, the friendly Yo Yo Lei hostel, is around 30 minutes and it does not give the entire idea of what is to come since the landscape is very dry and not so many people are around on the way. I did not have much time, or energy, to go around on the city so the best way was to head to the restaurant close to the hotel.
After that I paid a small visit to a pagoda that was a bit close to my hotel and for the first pagoda of the trip it did not disappoint. The area is very poor and the surroundings are a bit daunting at first but locals are so friendly and people so generous that this becomes a non-issue soon enough.
I booked a driver for the next day since I was not familiarised with the city and the route that it takes seemed to cover most of the sites in quick way and boy I was right. The traffic is very hectic as you can imagine and even crossing the street is difficult for the very first few days, soon you are going to be prancing around fast moving cars and scooters like a local.
First stop of the day was the Mahamuni pagoda where the main attraction is the giant gold covered Buddha statue.
Apart from the "main star" the temple itself is not very interesting but there are many locals praying, singing or just hanging around and this is something that it sets apart from other temples. If you are into some people watching do not miss this place.
The Buddha here was once a thinner statue but due to sheer donation of golden leaves it has grown in size and now it is several centimeters thick of pure gold. Locals flock here by the dozens each morning to pay their respects and make their contribution, it is not allowed to go to take photos from where people add the leafs, and... oh, no ladies up there either please.
Outside of the temple I stopped in a small gallery full of shops where statues are carved. In an interesting tidbit my driver mentioned that the entire Buddha is sculpted but the faces are left undone so the customer can come to the shop and ask what kind of expression he wants. It is quite strange seeing a Buddha body but a square block in place of the head.
SHWE IN BIN MONASTERY
Made out of teak wood this place is insanely well decorated and carved to minute detail. Bring a Zoom/Macro lens to make the most of this place. The interior is nothing to run home about but there are some friendly monks who are interested in speaking English with the foreigners and will spend some time with you if you are interested.
The entire structure wobbles when people walk around making it a bit unnerving when standing there, I noticed when using the tripod to take some photos of the dimly lit interior that just by moving my feet a bit I got some shake on the photos.
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Thanks for your visit and I hope you enjoyed what you saw. Don't forget to share with your friends.
CAMERA: Sony A7r
LENS: Sony FE 24-70mm f4 & Sony FE 35mm f2.8