20th March, early in the morning (as usual), with the Air Bagan company (25 minutes), we've moved from Bagan to Mandalay.
Mandalay is the second city, after Yangon, and has about one million inhabitants. It was founded in 1857 by the emperor Mindon Min and was the capital of the Burmese independent reign until 1886, the year when Burma was overcome and colonized by English.
Our first stop was Mahagandhayon monastery in Amarapura that host almost thousand monks. Actually we are talking of a little village having 25 buildings where monks live and study. Just the day of our visit a rich family offered the meal and they served it (the rice) to monks; Buddhist monks eat just once at day, about 10 a.m.
Continuing our visit, we've entered in a workshop of silk with about twenty looms for panoply of dry goods, all strictly hand maded by beautiful Burmese women.
In Maha Muni Pagoda there is so-called "fat Buddha". It's Buddha's statue in bronze, 4 meters tall, but in last years was covered of golden leafs from the numerous visitors. The golden layer is 15 centimeters thick, the reason why Buddha became fat.
In the workshop of golden leafs there is a production of very used leafs to cover Buddha's statues. It starts from the golden cube about 32 grams and hitting with the hammer, the gold become more and more thin. They told us that from the cube is possible to make a golden stripe long 27 km. That seems really incredible, but the leafs are really very thin. Even the price confirm it: 2 golden leafs cost 1 dollar.
The royal palace occupy a large area of the centre city, about square kilometer, and it's surrounded by walls and a wide ditch. Actually it's a complex of buildings recently restructured because the area was heavily devastated by a blaze during the second world war. Just out of walls there is a beautiful pagoda made in teak wood, Shwenandaw Kyaung.
Kuthodaw Paya presents a central pagoda with 729 little pagodas around. Each pagoda contains a plate of marble where sacral texts of Buddhism are engraved. This is the reason why it's the biggest book in the world.
Before the sunset we went up to the hill above Mandalay where we've admired a beautiful panoramic view of all city, but unfortunately the visibility was not vey good. And for the dinner that evening we've dressed like the locals and we went in a local pub.
Returning back from Mingun to Mandalay, and after lunch time, that afternoon we gave us the unique true break during this journey, in the swimming pool of our hotel: the weather wasn't so good but the setting was nice because we were surrounded by palms and we drank a cold beer. Moreover was the Easter so we gave the possibility to our guide to see his friends.