"My Road to Mandalay" Top 5 Page for this destination Mandalay by thedouglas

Mandalay Travel Guide: 409 reviews and 1,269 photos

Amazing Bridge

Mandalay is a relatively young city, the last capital of Myanmar and still regarded as the most "Burmese" of the countries cities. King Mindon (AD1853-1878) originally named Mandalay Yadanapon, which translatest to "City of Gems". The name was eventually changed, naming it after Mandalay Hill, which rises in the northeast horizon of the city. Mindon and his son Lomg Thibaw (1878-1885) were the last kings of Myanmar, enjoying fairly short reigns. The original "old" capital was Amarapura, but, when this city increased in size, Mindon moved and the foundation of Mandalay was layed in roughly 1856, built on the model of a square, with the palace complex occupying the central area of the city - and surrounded by moats and city walls. Occupation was commenced in 1859 - built largely of teak, which was adorned with gold and elaborately carved. Unfortunately, most of the palace and surrounding infrastructure were bomed and burned to the ground in WWII, in conflict against Japan.

The complex was rebuilt from archived records, using both prison and forced labour, as well as a paid force of workers, in the 1990's.

Temples of Gold

There are many religious monuments and Payas in and around Mandalay, surviving from various periods of Myanmar history. Mandalay Hill is the most famous, but there are other hills lying at all compass points around the city, dotted with pagodas, caves and monasteries. Mindon is reported to have built Mandalay on the model of Rajagaba in India, where Buddha had resided.

Mandalay today for tourists

Mandalay is quite a different city to Yangon - not as busy, and, as I mentioned earlier, said to be the most Burmese city in Myanmar. There is said to be many more monasteries here and well over half of the country's Buddhist monks live in the Mandalay region. It is certainly a very photogenic area, where there are many beautiful natural and man made sights.

In the words of Kipling's Road to Mandalay:

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say;
"Come you back, you British Soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay;
Can't you 'ear their paddles clunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-Yaw-Lat jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
Bloomin' idol made o' mud--
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd--
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay ...

When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-la-lo!"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek again my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
Elephants a-piling teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay ...

But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago and fur away,
An' there ain't no 'buses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay ...

I am sick 'o wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an' grubby 'and--
Law! wot do they understand?
I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay . . .

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there ain't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', and it's there that I would be--
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

Mandalay was my favourite place in Myanmar - and has retained some of the mysticism I had hoped for.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Teak and gold heaven - some unique temples and sights
  • Cons:The long road to Mandalay from the airport!
  • In a nutshell:Romantic notions of Mandalay hanging on - just barely.
  • Last visit to Mandalay: Mar 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (29)

Comments (13)

  • Boerresen's Profile Photo
    Jul 14, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    This was a great read, thanks. We're planning a trip to Burma in October and Mandalay wasn't originally in the itinerary - now I'm almost certain, that it will be

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    nice page!

  • thisit811's Profile Photo
    Aug 29, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    Just stopping by to read your web site on Myanmar. It is exellent page. I misses to visit Myanmar last time around in the region because of political crisis. Hopefully I could do it next time around there. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Aug 28, 2008 at 3:49 PM

    Another excellent web site of you! Mandalay and Burma in my travel plans! Thank you for sharing! Nikos

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2007 at 12:56 PM

    My dream is to visit there some day. Thank you for sharing.

  • mavl's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2007 at 1:56 PM

    she's a smart girl, i'm sure she'll know how to take the good with the bad. yup, istanbul has been awesome even without a turkish bath =) btw, great pics!

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2007 at 1:31 PM

    Mandalay, in the heart of Burma! I travelled a lot in SE Asia (Hope to write pages, one day.?) but I missed Burma. Very nice page you did here, I enjoyed it; did you try the field mice? Looks yummy! haha. And scrabble for killing time at the airport!

  • stevemt's Profile Photo
    Jun 9, 2007 at 12:27 AM

    I am really envious, I really want to get to Burma at some stage

  • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo
    Apr 24, 2007 at 4:20 PM

    Just checked out the updates. Even bigger WOW ! You have brought the exoticism and romance we all expect from Mandalay to this page. And that bridge photo.... WOW! Excellent page Therese:)

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Apr 24, 2007 at 5:51 AM

    Marvellous stuff! Your best page yet - loved the images (both photographic and verbal) - from the 'garden gnome equivalents' to the echo of Peter Dawson singing Kipling in the intro!

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