After our last sunrise in Bagan we headed to the hotel to pack our bags and get ready for our bus. We had booked a ‘minibus’ to take us the 5 hours to Mandalay. The first issue we had was the bus, it wasn’t what we were used to as far as a minibus went. It was a very old smaller version of the night buses, but when I say small, there was almost no leg room. I guess they aren’t lying by calling it a minibus, it really just should only be used for transporting small children. The next issue with this bus was the religious chant they then played through the bus for close to an hour before turning on the TV and playing some Burmese Karaoke. The journey felt long and throughout it started filling up more and more with locals. I don’t mind the locals getting on our buses however these ones were all chewing the leaf covered red tobacco, the one you have to continually spit with so when I saw the driver passing around plastic ‘spit bags’ I just put my head down and tried to sleep through the rest of the way. Finally as we got closer to Mandalay we got off the bus and were shown our taxi that would take us to our hotel. The driver opened the boot, put all our bags in and then advised that we would all need to fit into one car. Julia being the smallest was then placed in the boot with our luggage whilst the rest of us squashed in the back seat. Luckily the journey wasn’t too far.
For our first day in Mandalay we spent most of our time walking around and exploring the city. Whilst walking around we came across the most confusing (for us) local eye test sign. We went up to Mandalay hill and visited another pagoda.There were a lovely group of nuns who were more than happy for us to take their photo, they even spent a minute or two fixing themselves up for it.Afterwards we had lunch at a restaurant before heading to U-Beign bridge for sunset. The bridge was really busy and quite scary to walk over as it didn’t feel as stable as it was. You could also see the ground as you were walking across the wooden planks. The next day and for our final day in Myanmar we headed out of the city to visit some waterfalls. Our first stop was the jade market which was selling more larger stones than handicraft work. It was still very interesting to see and we got to see the machines they use in production to cut the stones.
The first waterfall we visited was Aniskan falls which was lovely but quite a trek to get to. We got dropped off at the top of the hill where we had to walk down for about 45 minutes over unsteady and steep ground. We spent a little while there soaking our feet in the ice cold pools before building up the courage to walk all the way back up. The walk up is tough and we honestly thought there would be some kind of jeep or car that could take you up for a fee, but there wasn’t. They did however have hammocks on wood where women would put the wood on their shoulders and carry someone in the hammock up to the top. We originally thought a woman had hurt herself when we saw it but we later found out this was the only service provided and one none of us would feel comfortable using. Our next waterfall was called Dee Doke and we had read online it wasn’t visited by many tourists. We arrived and had another hike to get to the falls, luckily not as bad as the previous one. The pools were filled with locals playing and hanging out which was really cool. We all jumped in and had a little swim before things got a little uncomfortable as 3 of us girls were in our bikinis and a few of the local men were enjoying looking at us a little too much. We put our sarongs on and dried off before heading back.We didn’t really love Mandalay, it was just another big city to us. We really enjoyed our trip out of the city though, getting to see a different type of landscape and nature to that which we saw on our trek.