Mandalay is a weird place. It’s not the beautiful colonial town most imagine but it is much better than the guide books would have us believe.
It’s a dusty, busy city full of motorbikes, smiles and colour. It is a street photographer’s paradise.
We started with one of the best meals of our trip. We were off to see The Moustache Brothers, a comedy act banned during the repressive era and even now only allowed to perform for tourists. We needed to eat before we saw the show and so headed off to a local restaurant. No tourists in sight, which was fantastic. The only free table was sandwiched between two guys who were undoubtedly secret police – menacing, observant – and a large group that included a very drunk young guy, who insisted on coming up and toasting our health with deep glugs of beer. It was a classic night and I’m sure it doesn’t translate well into a blog!
The next morning we were up early to catch the morning trade in the sprawling street market area of town. The photo opportunities came so thick and fast that it was hard to choose. As long as you ask permission, people in Burma are very up for having their photo taken. This woman with her cheroot was my favourite that morning.
And here’s a selection of my other photos from that walk.
On the way back, we had our best luck of the holiday. We stumbled upon a novitiate procession. Young boys and girls often go to become monks and nuns for a few years, at a very young age. It was such a surprise and such a feast for the eyes.
We spent the rest of the morning at Mandalay’s main pagoda (where we saw the novice nuns again) and looking round the wood carving and stone masons areas. It was shocking to see the conditions the stone masons worked in – no mufflers on their ears and no face masks to protect them from the heavy dust.
First, the Pagoda
And then the wood and stone-working workshops
My highlight was our trip up to Mandalay Hill but I’m going to have to wait ’til tomorrow to write about that!
By Carole Scott