musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Mandalay Meandering

I spent a full week in Mandalay during my visit to Myanmar in July. I’ve been there so many times that I rarely bother to revisit any of the popular tourist attractions in town. My usual routine involves going to teashops (Morning Star, Minthiha, or a small one near the railway station that has delicious monhinga in the mornings), restaurants (Aye Myit Tar for Burmese cuisine, and V Café for western dishes), and just simply riding my bike around town. Sometimes I don’t have a real plan; I just hop on the bike and ride off into the dust, often getting lost in the process. That’s when the adventure starts!


During these somewhat aimless bike rides I’ve discovered some incredibly memorable people, places, and things: lovely old monasteries, tree-lined avenues and bubbling brooks, friendly local families (one of them, I kid you not, was named the Adams Family … and they are Burmese!), and quaint little neighborhoods. One of those is the neighborhood on 90th Street, where U Tin Chit’s teashop is located. I usually make my way over there every day when I am in town, stopping at the teashop first for conversation — and tea, of course. Inevitably, the kids will come around after school and they will take me on walks or bike rides around the area. I never know where we are going to go — a park, a monastery, a lake, a jade workshop, a school — but it’s always fun. Really, I never get bored of hanging out with this crew.


My friend Maw Hsi, one of the regulars at the teashop, planned a few new excursions in the area this time. One day, while the kids were in school, we rode our bikes around town and visited a half-dozen monasteries, from small ones to huge complexes. Another day we took the kids to the chinlon tournament at Mahamuni Paya. Other times, we just meandered down the jigsaw pattern of small narrow lanes until we reached the river. Here are some photos I took of the kids out and about, hamming it up for the camera. Just another day in Mandalay.




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