On The Road To Mandalay

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 . . .

                                                       Rudyard Kipling

Gun daha dogmamis, gunes puslu tepelerin ardindan henuz yuzunu gostermemisken yola cikiyoruz. Irrawaddy nehri bizi bekler! Mandalay’den arabayla ulastigimiz Bagan’i, tekrar Mandalay’e donmek icin bu kez nehir kiyisindan son bir kez selamlayip, hoscakal dedikten sonra feribotumuza biniyoruz. Koltuklar bos. Bir sira benim diger sira JB’in. Yorgunuz, uykususuz ama bir o kadar da heyecanli ve mutluyuz. Nehirde ilerlemeye baslayinca, arabada uyuya kalan cocuklar misali uc bes koltuktan olusan yataklarimizda kisa bir mola veriyoruz. Aradan cok zaman gecmiyor; usuyen bedenimin, gunesin yuzunu gostermesiyle isindigini hissediyorum. Isik yavas yavas gozlerimi kamastiriyor. Gunes doguyor !!! Ben yeniden kendime geliyorum. Sonra diyorum ki; bu isik kacmaz! Makinamı kaptigim gibi disariya firliyorum…

We’re setting off before the sun appears behind the foggy hills. Irrawaddy is waiting for us! After saluting  Bagan, last time until the next time, a little bit upset, we say goodbye. As we came here by car from Mandalay, this time,on the way back, we want to try the famous Irrawaddy which is the country’s largest river and most important commercial waterway. Ready to set aboard! Different companies are sharing the passengers, that’s why there are not too many people on board. The seats are empty. JB and I invade two lines just for ourselves. We’re exhausted, wakeful but nothing can still stand in the way of our excitement and happiness. As the ferry gathers way, our eyes can’t resist to sleep anymore and in the manner of a little baby who falls a sleep in car easily, we give a little break on our  “beds”. A little while after, I feel that my chilly body gets warm thanks to the rising sun. The glare becomes more sensible. Finally, I pull myself together and say: “I shouldn’t miss this light!” Then, I pop out with my camera to capture and immortalise these peaceful moments. 

Bir kac sarsak balikci teknesi haric, tum nehir bize aitmis gibi yavas yavas ilerliyoruz bulanik sularda. Kiyida  camasir yikayan kadinlar, sicagin hararetini birazda olsa uzerlerinden atmak icin suda oynayan cocuklar ve tarlalarda cift suren okuzler carpiyor gozume. 21. hatta 20. yuzyilin kalintilarindan eser yok bu manzaranin icinde. Zaman belli bir aralikta durmuş ve birdaha da buralara hic ugramamis gibi. Hayatimin en sessiz, en huzurlu ve en dokunakli 14 saatini gecirdikten sonra aksam saatlerinde Mandalay’a ayak basiyoruz. Umarim bir gun,  Irrawaddy de Nil nehri gibi turizmin istila ettigi bir nokta haline gelmeden once buradaki sessizlige kendinizi birakma sansini yakalarsiniz.

We gather way slowly over the troubled waters. Except couple of fishermen in their rickety boats, it seems that we have the river to ourselves. On the banks, my eyes get off with women wash their clothes, oxen are at work in the fields and children play in water . There was no evidence whatsoever of the 21st century – nor the 20th in this tableau. It looks like time stopped in a certain moment and never appeared again. 14 hours later we land Mandalay. I’ve never known a boat ride as peaceful or as poignant in my life. I hope one day you can pass over Irrawaddy and let yourself into her silent arms before tourism ruined it like Nile river. 

Mandalay’da, Burma’nin baskent Yangoon’dan sonra en buyuk ikinci sehrinde ilk gunumuz. Bagan’dan sonra burasi pek bir karmasik, kalabalik geliyor gozumuze. Olmayan trafik lambalari, zaten karmasik olan trafigi daha da zor bir hale getirmis. Yine de her seye ragmen seviyoruz bu kaosu. Mandalay sokaklarinda kaybolmaktan buyuk zevk alacaginiz ortacag avrupa sehirlerinden degil. Her sokakta yoksullugun baska bir hali cikiyor karsiniza, her sokakta bambaska insanlarin bambaska dunyalarina konuk oluyorsunuz. Boylelikle biraz olsun ben merkezlerimizden uzaklasip, asla yadirgamadan, elestirmeden en onemlisi de acima duygusu hissetmeden o dunyalarin icine daliyoruz. Bu kez ilk defa her seyi agirdan alip, Bagan’da gorduklerimizden sonra hic bir seyin bizi artik hayrete dusuremeyecegi kibriyle Mandalay Hill, Mahamunu Paya, Mandalay Palace gibi “top pick” mekanlari biraz es gecip, bizi bekleyen iki hareketli gunu de hesaba katarak, kalabaliklardan uzak sessiz ve huzurlu bir mekana ceviriyoruz rotamizi. 19. yy da birkac Çin’li yesim tasi tuccari tarafindan yaptirilan Shwe In Bin Kyaung manastiri tam aradigimiz yer.

First day in Mandalay, the second biggest city of Burma after Yangoon. After the ultimate silence in Bagan, here is much more chaotic and crowded for us. As there are no lights, traffic is tortuous. Although it’s not a love at first sight, we find something to love in this city. We’re content to be here. I should say that; this is not kind of a city where you ‘d loose yourself between many historical ruins like in old medieval european cities. In every streets the different form of poverty appears in front of you. Every street invites you to different worlds of different people. In this way, without criticising, without feeling out but especially without pitying, we find a chance to leave our egocentric worlds and plunge into others’. This is the first time we take everything easy in a city. I said to JB ” what else can amaze us after the things we saw in Bagan?” I know it’s so snobbish to say that but this was our attitude when we arrived to Mandalay. So, we ignore the “top-picks” such as Mandalay Hill, Mahamunu Paya, Mandalay Palace and choose the calmest, the most peaceful one as the other day is going to be so busy in Sagaing and Amarapura. Shwe In Bin Kyaung monastery, commissioned in 19. century by a pair of wealthy Chinese jade merchants, is the place exactly where we want to be. 

Mandalay’da toplu tasima araclarinin pek konforlu olduklarini soyleyemem. Otobus yerine kullanilan pikaplar tiklim tiklim dolu. Bu yuzden sizlere taksi kullanmanizi onerecegim ama onuda oyle elinizi kolunuzu sallayarak, kolayca bulabileceginizi sanmayin. Yolda yururken arabalar ve scooterlar yanasip, sizleri makul bir fiyata istediginiz yere gotureceklerini soyleyecekler, muhtemelen birazcik cekineceksiniz ama eger ihtiyac duyarsaniz kabul etmekten korkmayin. Burmalilar asiri derecede sevecen ve yardim sever insanlar. Biz bu durumu onceden kestirebildigimiz icin otelden cikarken taksi istiyoruz. Kendisini cok sevdigimiz fakat adini bir turlu hatirlayamadigim taksi soforumuze iki gun boyunca sadik kalmakta karar kiliyoruz.

I can’t say the public transportation is the most comfortable way to go around in Mandalay. The pick-ups are used as busses and they are crowded to overflowing. That’s why I’d like to say try to take a taxi but unfortunately it’s not easy to find it neither. I told you tourism is still not something they get used to. On the other hand, while you’re at the street, couple of scooters and cars will come near to you and ask if you need to a taxi or not. At the first sight, this idea can be quite absurd but don’t hesitate to say yes because in general Burmese people are quite friendly and helpful. As we predict the conditions, we ask a taxi before leaving the hotel and as we really like our driver so much that we decide to stick him for the upcoming two days.

Mandalay’de ikinci gun. Tembellik yok bugun. Bir gun oncesinde anlastigimiz saatte, sabah 9 da guleryuzlu taksicimiz kapida bizi bekliyor. Yolculuk, birbirinden essiz uc tapinagin ev sahibesi Mingun’a. Yol ustunde Inwa koprusunden gecerken Irrawaddy ile bir kez daha karsilasip, selamlasiyoruz. Yaklasik 45 dk- 1 saat sonra devasa bir yapinin onunde duruyoruz Mingun Paya daha o anda bizi etkisi altina aliyor. Biraz sonra yalinayak tirmanacagimiz yuzlerce merdivenden habersiz, heyecanla arabadan iniyoruz. Vakit nefes nefese ulastigimiz zirvenin tadini cikartma vaktidir simdi !

Second day in Mandalay. No laziness ! We find our friendly driver in front of the hotel at 9am, the hour that we arranged previous day. Direction is Mingun, home to a trio of unique pagodas. On our way, while passing over the Inwa Bridge, we run across and say hello to our old friend Irrawaddy. After 45 min-1 hr trip we stop in front of a huge, old and injured temple. We’re already under the effect of Mingun Paya. Unknowing the hundred of stairs that we are going to climb bare foot, we get out the car with a great enthusiasm. Now, it’s time to enjoy the view !

Bir sonraki duragimiz beyazlarla kapli Hsinbyume Paya. Aslinda buraya Mingun’un Taj Mahal’i de diyebiliriz. 1816’da kral Bagyidaw tarafindan olen karisinin anisina yaptirilan bu essiz tapinak ayni zamanda mitik Meru dagini da temsil ediyor. Benim icin en ozel yani ise, altinlarla kapli tapinaklarin arasinda bile en goze carpan bir sadelikte insa edilmis olmasi.

The next stop is snow white Hsinbyume Paya, Taj Mahal of Mingun. King Bagyidaw built it in 1816 in memory of his senior Queen , the Hsinbyume princess and it is supposed to represent mythical Mount Meru. For me, what makes it special is its white colour; normally pagodas are painted in gold to look modern. But this pagoda is all white and takes enough attention thanks to its simplicity. 

Tapinaktan ayriliyoruz. Birkac yuz metre ileride Mingun Bell’i de gormeden gitmeyelim diyerekten kendimizi iceride buluyoruz. Kramlimiz Bagyidaw’in  takintilarindan birisi oldugu icin 1808 yilinda dunyanin en buyuk çanini yaptiriyor fakat cok gecmeden, bu rekoru Cin’in Pingdingshan sehrine kaptiriyor.

We leave the temple. We don’t want to leave without seeing Mingun Bell just next door. Upon his  obsession, King Bagyidaw decide to built the biggest ring bell of the world. Although his record lasts long, after decades, China surpass it with the giant bell in Pingdingshan. 

Mingun’dan ayrilip, Mandalay’e kisa bir mola icin tekrar donuyoruz. Donus yolunda altin ve ipek atolyelerini gezme sansini da kacirmiyoruz tabiki.

We leave Mingun and back to Mandalay for a lunch break. On the way, of course we don’t miss the chance visiting the gold and silk factories. 

Sirada Amarapura var. Gun batimini dunyanin en uzun tahta koprusu olan U-Bein bridge de izlemek icin sabirsizlaniyoruz.

In the afternoon we head to Amarapura impatiently to catch the sunset on U-Bein; the world’s longest teak footbridge. 

Gun batimi yaklastikca, kalabalik artmaya basliyor. Turist yigini, kopruden gecen yerli halkin ve  budist rahiplerin arasina karisiyor. Bizimle resim cektirmek isteyen bir kac Burma’li cifti kirmayip yuzumuzde kocaman bir gulumsemeyle anin tadini cikartmaya devam ederken aniden bir ses duyuyorum; birisi “Ezgiiii!” diye bagiriyor. Once yanlis anladigimi dusunerek hic orali olmuyorum ama, ses cok israrci… Etrafima bakiyorum, tanidik bir yuz yok neyse ki ses hala devam ediyor ve assagiya baktigimda tum heyecaniyla Evrim’i tekrar goruyorum. Sevincle hemen assagiya indikten sonra kocaman sariliyoruz birbirimize. Yasasin arkadasliklar! (Buarada merak edenler icin Evrim’le tanisma hikayemiz bir onceki postta tik tik)

As sunset approaches, the crowd grows. Tourist mass starts to get into locals and monks. On the bridge, couple of Burmese couples and teenagers want to have a picture with us. We don’t disappoint them and accept their wish with a great pleasure and a big smile on our faces. Then, continue our way. There is a long way to the other side. Suddenly, I hear that someone cries out my name “Ezgiiii!”. In the first instance, i don’t give attention. I’m sure that there is no body I know on this bridge. But the voice, persistently, is calling me. I give up and look around, then I see Evrim waves down the bridge. We go down with a great joy to nestle each other. Long live friendships ! (By the way if you’re curious how we met with Evrim, you can find the story on my previous post click click)

Bir gun batiminin da sonuna geldikten sonra sevgili taksi soforumuzden bizi haftasonu aksamlari kurulan pazara birakmasini isteyip, bir sonraki gun gorusene dek veda ettik. Pazar’in beklentilerimizi karsiladigini pek soyleyemeyecegim fakat yine de farkli bir aksam aktivitesi olarak etrafta biraz dolasip, yerli halkin arasina karisip Burma’nin guzel insanlarina son bir kez hoscakal demek isteyenler icin guzel bir alternatif olabilir.

After folding up the last sunset in Myanmar, we ask our driver bring us to the weekend market. I can’t really say that it meets our expectations but still you should give a chance to it as a night activity to wander around and to bid farewell to beautiful Burmese people.

Bize inanilmaz guzellikte, bu zamana kadar hic tatmadigimiz, tarifi guc anlar yasatan Myanmar’a bir daha kesinlikle gorusmek uzere veda ediyoruz. Henuz icimiz o kadar da buruk degil cunku tatilin ikinci yarisi icin rotamizi yeniden Bangkok’a ceviriyoruz. Ucakta bir yandan bu unutulmaz anilari seyahat guncemizin sayfalarinda olumsuzlestirirken, bir yandan da aklim Tayland’in bize sunacagi suprizlere takiliyor, heyecanlaniyorum. Maceranin devami icin beklemede kalin !

We say last but not least goodbye to Myanmar where we experienced incredibly beautiful and precious moments that we both have never lived before. But no resentment yet; for the second part of the trip we’re ready to  take off for Bangkok. During the flight while writing our travel journal, at the same time, I can’t stop thinking; what kind of surprises waiting for us in Thailand ? Stay tuned for the rest of the adventure !

Nerede kalmali ?

Mandalay’de merkeze olabildigince yakin yerleri tercih etmeli. Toplu tasimanin ne kadar zor oldugundan bahssetmistim bu yuzden bu detayi aklinizdan cikartmamalisiniz. Biz The Hotel Emperor i tercih ettik. Hizmeti, temizligi ve her ihtiyacimiz oldugunda yardimimiza kosan guler yuzlu calisanlariyla kesinlikle tercih edebileceginiz bir hotel.

Where to stay ? 

I’ve already talked about the transportation difficulties in Mandalay. So, while you’re deciding your accommodation, your first criteria should be proximity to the centre. That’s why we choose The Hotel Emperor due to its location, service, cleanliness and the very helpful, friendly staff who is  always ready for your service. I highly suggest this cute two star hotel. 

Nerede yemeli ?

Burma mutfagi icinde cokca thai esintileri barindiriyor ve Mandalay tum bu tatlari deneyebileceginiz, menusu zengin restorantlariyla bir gastronomi cenneti diyebiliriz.

  • Rainforest‘in lezzetli milkshakelerini ve pad thai sini denemelisiniz.
  • Green Elephant Burma’nin farkli sehirlerinde bulabileceginiz bir zincir restorant. Bagan’da deneyip hic memnun kalmadigimiz icin Mandalay’de ona ikinci bir sans vermiyoruz. Ama tum turistik rehberlerde rakiplerinin onune gecmis durumda. Bu yuzden tercihi size birakiyoruz.
  • BBB geleneksel tatlardan yana zengin izgara menusuyle asya tatlarina ara vermek isteyenler guzel bir secim olabilir.

Where to eat? 

Burmese cuisine is impressed a lot by the thai cuisine and Mandalay is the gastronomy center giving you a chance to experience all this richness. 

  • Rainforest you should try their different kinds of milkshakes and delicious pad thai. 
  • Green Elephant  is a chain that you can find in other Burmese cities. As we’ve already tried in Bagan and haven’t liked it at all, we refuse giving a second chance in Mandalay. But, according to many city guides it’s top of the rivals. So, we let you decide. 
  • BBB instead of traditional tastes they focus on grilled dish in their menus. So, if you want to give a little break to your Asian discoveries, BBB is your place. 

Ne alinir ?

  • Mandalay’da yesim tasindan yapilmis bir cok objeyi cok ucuza fiyatlara alabilirsiniz bunun icin en guzel yer unlu Jade Market. Hic bir sey almasaniz bile taslarin nasil kesildigini, hangi islemlerden gectigini gormek icin gitmenizi tavsiye ederim.
  • Yukarida, altin ve ipek atolyelerini ziyaret ettigimizden bahsetmistim. Ipek atolyelerinden zevkime gore pek bir sey bulamadigim icin sansimi altin atolyesinde deniyorum. Hemen yerinde kucuk posetlerde satilan altin yapraklari buradan almis oldugum en orjinal ve en unutulmaz hatira oldu benim icin. Tabi ki cok severek kullandigim jade bilekligime de haksizlik etmemem gerek.

What to buy?

  • In Mandalay you can buy many different objects made by jade with really reasonable prices. So direction to Jade Market where ,apart from shopping, you have the chance to observe interesting scenes of craftsmen cutting and polishing jade pieces.

  • Above, I mention about the gold and silk workshops. I couldn’t find anything silk to my taste but I tried my chance in gold and I bought the most memorable and original souvenir for me and my beloved ones; little gold leaves in plastic bags. Of course i shouldn’t forget my lovely jade bracelet that i wear all the time. 

Kucuk ipuclari !

Myanmar’a seyahat etmeden once bilmeniz gereken bir cok seyi Bagan postunda zaten yazmistim. Bilgileri tazelemek isteyenler icin linki soyle bir koseye birakiyorum. Bunun disinda, seyahatten once tum hotel ve bilet rezervasyonlarinizi onceden yapmis, ciktilarini da alip yola oyle cikmis olmanizi tavsiye ediyorum. Burasi her seyi sansa ya da akisina birakabileceginiz bir ulke degil. Cruise, ozel araba, gunluk sehir turlari gibi her turlu turistik aktivite icin Myanmar Upper Land uzerinden rezervasyon yaptirabilirsiniz. Biz sadece cruise biletimizi ve Mandalay-Bagan arasi ozel arabamizi bu sirket uzerinden yaptik fakat profesyonelliklerine olan guvenimiz tam oldugu icin diger aktivitelerini de gonul rahatligiyla tercih edebilirsiniz.

Little tips ! 

In my previous article, i’ve already mentioned about some tips that will help you before your trip to Myanmar. Let’s refresh our minds by this linkApart from that, I suggest you make all your ticket and hotel reservations and print before your arrival. You shouldn’t leave something to chance here. Although we never used any tour company and did whole plan on our own, in some points we needed some help to make our stay more comfortable and easier.  So, we contacted with Myanmar Upper Land and reserved our private driver from Mandalay to Bagan also ferry tickets on the way back. In addition to that, if you want to try, they have other services such as planning a one day city tours or your whole trip. They are extremely trusty and professional. You can rely on them eyes wide shut. 

4 thoughts on “On The Road To Mandalay

  1. WordPress uygulamasının arama bölümüne “seyahat” yazdım ve yazınız çıktı. Beğenerek okudum. Anlaşılan tatil henüz daha yeni bitmişken yeni bir tatil daha gerek. Daha nice yollara, selamlar.

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