There are very few things that will get me out of bed before the sun has risen (flights and getting paid are the main ones) but an opportunity to see a 4am daily ritual where the most senior monk washes the face and brushes the teeth of a giant gold leaf Buddha statue followed by watching the sunrise over Ubien Bridge seemed like it was worth the struggle.
The road to Mandalay consisted of a ridiculously long 16 hour ‘sleeper’ train ride from Yangon which was nothing but hot, cramped, bumpy, noisy, dirty and didn’t allow me a moment of sleep. I had the option of a 10 hour luxury sleeper bus but I chose the train ride for the following reasons: comfort and ability to sleep (didn’t happen), ability to use the toilet whenever I needed to (the toilets were the WORST part of this experience) and the novelty of a restaurant carriage (which really didn’t live up to my excitement) so in hindsight I made the wrong choice, but this is part and parcel of the travelers experience. Note the title of this post references a song by Frank Sinatra which my grandma told me about when I was in Mandalay.
See if you can spot the person sleeping rough in one of the boats under the Ubien Bridge.