On the Road to Mandalay

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.

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