Today we leave Bagan and drive to Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar, en route via Mt. Popa. We leave the hotel at 8 am and after 30 minutes drive we stopped at a palm oil workshop, we learned how palm oil is cultivated, processed, and turned into alcohol. The tools being used are traditional simple tools operated by human. The workshop took us only 20 minutes, then we continue driving South toward Mt. Popa. From Bagan to Mandalay took about four hours, so we planned to arrive around 4 pm, inclusive of time for lunch and toilet break.
Extracting oil from palm fruit using an ox
A man climbing a palm tree to harvest the fruit
We went to Popa Mountain Resort, a nice hotel with view to Mt. Popa itself. Sadly, at 10 am it was foggy and we can’t see farther than 20 meters. So we descent the mountain and lucklily our guide know two other photo spots to photograph Mt. Popa. The location is on lower ground, but we were able to see the monastery on the top of the mountain.
Landscape from Bagan to Mt. Popa
Monastery at the top of Mt. Popa
Cityscape and Mt. Popa
After two hours drive we stopped at a small city called Mingyan for lunch. We aren’t able to find single decent restaurant in Mingyan, so we are betting ourselves by eating a fried rice cooked by a local. Then we continue our drive again for 2.5 hours to Mandalay.
Once we arrived in Mandalay, we were dropped near Mandalay University and saw many students going home, some are walking and others with a open back car. We walked for twenty minutes to U Penn Bridge, a wooden bridge spanning for several hundreds meter. Walking on U Penn Bridge is great, with landscape on each side of the bridge, local people taking photos and selling goods on the intersection. The slightly windy breeze also makes the walk pleasurable. We walked across the bridge for fifteen minutes and continue our trip to the city of Mandalay.
U Penn Bridge, Mandalay
Locals crossing the river on U Penn Bridge
A fisherman on U Penn Bridge
The famous U Penn Bridge at outer part of Mandalay
We checked in at Dingar Hotel in the southern part of the city, where we learn later that it is quite far from the center. We took photographs of sunset from the rooftop and walk to a fancy European restaurant named Bistro @82. It took us 90 minutes of sweating to walk there from hotel, Mandalay road is easy to follow but it is not suitable for walking due to the unaccessible walkaway.
Sunset at Mandalay
We crossed a railroad, 8 blocks north and 6 blocks west to arrive at the restaurant. Bistro @82 is a recommended fancy European restaurant for tourist bored with local foods or longing for a decent Western food. I ordered a schnitzel and my father a bratwurst, closed with a chocolate mousse. We spent 47.000 kyat ($41) for two person meal, which I’d say reasonable but certainly not cheap. Since we were tired and didn’t intend to walk our way to hotel, we ordered a taxi from restaurant and they charged only 5000 kyat ($5), less than what the hotel receptionist wanted (1000 kyat or $10). Then we took shower and rest for the day.