We came into Mandalay, Myanmar- to a wonderful reception – unknown to us The Water Festival – and New Year. Water festival is a 5 day celebration before New Year. Essentially – the whole country comes to a standstill – shops/restaurants, offices closed for a 5 day water fight. Who doesn’t fall in love with a country that does that. As we were told – the Burmese love to celebrate all festivals
Our plan was to leave today – and continue on to Vietnam – however – appropriate to the Water Festival – an unseasonable rain storm in Myanmar today – low cloud – low visibility and rain at times heavy – so no chance of getting N113MF up and over these surrounding mountains.
So instead of pictures of our journey into South Asia – I will share some shots of the wonderful country of Myanmar and Mandalay. Our handler – Yamin – a lovely young woman from Mandalay told us that her father is a tour guide – so we spent a day and a half travelling with our handler and her father – Zaw. Really lovely time – and so informative. Myanmar is a country that is opening up to tourism – so we were able to see and learn things we wouldn’t have without them.
Just outside our hotel on Saturday morning – day 2 of Water Festival
There were hundreds of trucks filled will people of all ages (although mostly young people) driving around with barrels of water – throwing it at people – and people on the streets throwing water back at the trucks.
The water festival is a part of a cleaning ritual to welcome the new year. Traditionally people would gently sprinkle water on one another as a sign of respect – but because it is the hottest time of the year – it has become people dousing strangers and passersby in vehicles in water. The act of pouring water is a show of blessings and good wishes.
It felt like such a festive – happy celebration.
They were very friendly to Dylan and I – we got wet – but they ran up to us and poured on us – careful to avoid my camera:)
We drove to Bagan that morning and the water festivities continued the WHOLE way there – people on the sides of the road spraying all the vehicles – open trucks and motor bikes. I am so glad we were in a van with closed windows. People on the roads got absolutely soaked!
This truck was full of people in the back:)
I am so very impressed how women sit on the back of motorbikes!!
So many motor bikes here. Actually Mandalay was once known as the “city of bicycles” however that that changed since the advent of motorbikes coming from China. Motorbikes are cheap and so they have replaced the bicycles.
Zaw – our tour guide – primarily works as a tour guide around Myanmar and has his own company for bicycle tours.
We drove to Bagan. Here is a picture with Dylan and Yamin and Zaw
Bagan is an ancient city – during the kingdoms height between the 11th and 13th century over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed – over 2,200 temples and pagodas remain today. Bagan is an important place for the people of Myanmar and it is expected that all Buddhists from this country come here at least once in their lives.
Zaw took us to a place where they make palm sugar. This is a picture of a woman boiling down the liquid gathered from the palm tree into a syrup. Each pot the liquid is reduced and becomes thicker.
The syrup being made into candy.
The palm syrup is also distilled with rice to make a type of 35 proof liquor.
Mount Popa – a best known pilgrimage site – that Dylan and I went to the top. So many people here as it is a holiday weekend.
Many markets up the steps to the top of Mount Popa.
And of course the great food of Myanmar.
A final interesting fact of Myanmar – they work on a 8 day holiday schedule – one day off every week – falling on the 8th day – so it changes every week)
If anyone is interested in visiting Myanmar and is looking for a guide – for a tour but especially a bike tour – I would highly recommend Zaw (no last names here) – Bike Myanmar Adventures . He is very informative – wonderful to spend time with – has been a tour guide for 20 years – and his English is perfect – so we were able to learn so much about this country from him. (in case you are interested in more information to contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org)