MANDALAY and beyond: Mintha dance, urban cycling, the longest teak bridge, accosted by photo groupies, and NO BIG FEET!
I left the Buddhist monastery at sunrise and pedaled thru the ancient ruins of Iwna.
Impressive. Then I followed the road until it dead-ended at the Irriwaddy river. Crap. I would have to backtrack by pedal 10 miles. But then, along comes a ferry to the rescue. Yes, I WILL pay. And off to Mandalay I go.
I book a very good room at Hotel Nylon (seriously) and text Jeff. In a few hours, he rendezvouses and we hit the town, bicycle-speaking.
Next morning we pedal 8 miles south to the world’s longest wooden bridge, the Ubein Bridge, made all of teak. We walk it. It has no hand rails. I guess the Buddhists feel that if you cannot stay on the middle of the track, well, next reincarnation. On the bridge, we are constantly accosted by sweet Facebook groupies. They want to take selfies with us, and be our Facebook friends. When I finally do open FB, I find I have 20+ new posts.
Jeff and I are thirsty. So we climb down the bridge and drink two coconuts each. But we do pass on the fried rat.
I realize I have worn out my only pair of shoes, my beloved Croks. Holes in the bottom. I should have brought along a new pair. So I walk into a shoe store, but a woman blocks my entrance. She almost pushes me out as she shouts NO BIG FEET! NO BIG FEET!
Huhhh? I find out that they have nothing close to size 10 in their store. I finally find one store that has 1 pair of shoes that are size 10. So guess what? That was my choice. But that phrase sticks in my mind. NO BIG FEET!
That night, with lights blinking all over our bikes, we pedal to the opposite side of town to watch the Mintha Dancers. What is that, you ask? Me too.
It is an ancient dance theater. It reminded me both of Kabuki and Balinese dance. Whatever it was, I found it fun to watch. And the cymbals, horns, and drums from the orchestra were just great. On my last day in Mandalay, I hiked up the 600+ steps of Mandalay hill to get a sunset view from the Buddhist temple. I was stunned by the view, but mostly, by the detailed beauty of the temple itself. A perfect way to say goodbye to Mandalay