Mandalay Hill is a very special place. It’s not the sunset that makes it so, although if there was nothing else to entertain you and you hadn’t been spoilt by sunsets over Bagan and the Irrawaddy River, the sunset would seem spectacular.
The fabulous thing about a trip up to Mandalay Hill is the monks. Monks go there every evening, knowing that they will be able to practice their English with tourists. It’s a decades old tradition, not a new thing. From late afternoon the whole temple complex and viewing platform comes to life with the buzz of warm, happy chatter.
We arrived and I had a fleeting anxiety – how does one start a conversation with a monk? I shouldn’t have worried. Eventually, you see a group of monks who have just finished one conversation or you simply smile and wander over.
It was a lovely experience because it stems from the best motives; people simply happy to while away half an hour or so exchanging trivialities or philosophies, world views or slang.
One monk asked me if I liked Myanmar. ‘I love it!”, I replied, and then asked how I say ‘I love it’ in Burmese. I haltingly learnt the sentence. When I relayed it proudly back to our tour leader, he chuckled. The monk had taught me to say “I like you very much”. Cheeky Monk!
By Carole Scott