When I’m in Mandalay I usually take the kids from the neighborhood I frequent on 90th Street (near U Tin Chit’s teashop) on a field trip somewhere in the area. Earlier this year we took our first multi-day trip to Bagan, Mount Popa, and Shwe Set Daw. This time around, however, due to school being back in session and my limited finances, we confined our excursion to a one-day tour of the greater Mandalay environs, visiting pagodas, monasteries, and old wooden bridges (but no, NOT the famous U Bein Bridge this time around).
We also found time to visit the Olympic-sized swimming pool that is located next to the zoo, just north of the moat that surrounds the old Mandalay Palace. I know that these kids love to swim, but I wasn’t sure that this would be a wise choice, coming so soon after the tragic drowning of one of their friends in the river a few months ago. But the kids made it clear that going to the pool was high on their agenda, and Maw Hsi, one of the fathers who came along to help me keep an eye on the kids, had no objections either, so, swimming it was!
And of course the kids also found time to eat a variety of snacks at almost every place we stopped. It didn’t matter that we had a full lunch at one of the old monasteries in town (overseen by a friendly head monk who walked around with an iPad and showed me photos of his village school project), they still couldn’t resist the lure of more mangoes and weird salad concoctions.
For the most part the kids behaved themselves, but one of the boys ended up punching another one later in the afternoon, leading to a few tears and threats of retaliation, but they eventually patched things up and it all ended well. At least I think it did. Never a dull moment with this crew!