sunset on mandalay hill

Sunday, February 15:  After zipping up the switchbacks of Mandalay Hill on the back of the motorbike, my driver deposits me, along with crowds of Western tourists, at the Su Taung Pyai Pagoda.  We’ve all come to see the sunset looking over Mandalay.

Sunset at Mandalay Hill

Sunset at Mandalay Hill

I have to say that the sunset itself is not that great, as the air is hazy and there’s not much to see of Mandalay except a dry dusty plain.  However, I do find the glittery pagoda in the waning light quite wonderful.  I also adore seeing all the monks out and about in force.

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

In the distance, I can see numerous pagodas and the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River as the sun sinks on the horizon.

Mandalay from Mandalay Hill

Mandalay from Mandalay Hill

Su Taung Pyi Pagoda means wish-granting pagoda. It was built by King Anawratha in 414 Myanmar Era.  It was patronized and renovated by successive KonBaung Kings.  Mandalay Hill has been a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists for two centuries.

There’s a breeze on the hill, and I love seeing the monks in conversation and the weary travelers taking a break against the columns of the pagoda.

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

View of Mandalay

View of Mandalay

I love the endless archways with with Burmese script, the shiny floors and the colorful inlaid mirrors on the columns.

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Monk at Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Monk at Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Two girls strike up a conversation with me, asking me where I’m from, what I’m doing here.  I think they just want to practice their English, as apparently many of the monks also want to do at this spot.

One of the girls is wearing the traditional clothing worn by women in Myanmar, the longyi, pronounced “long-ji.”  In Burma, longyis worn by males are called paso, while those worn by females are called htamain.  The styles are different between men and women, as the pattern is usually a small plaid for the men and floral or striped for the women.  The women often wear a matching blouse that covers the shoulders.  The fabric of the htamain is a long rectangle of cloth wrapped around the waist with the end tucked into the waist, not knotted.  Mostly, they are ankle length.

Burmese girls at Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Burmese girls at Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Mandalay from Mandalay Hill

Mandalay from Mandalay Hill

Pagoda in Mandalay

Pagoda in Mandalay

Once the sun has set, suddenly all the tourists dissipate, and I have almost the entire pagoda to myself.  I stroll around and take photos in the waning light, enjoying the peace and quiet.

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

Su Taung Pyai Pagoda

One of the last to leave the pagoda, I find my motor taxi driver waiting patiently.  He takes me back down the hill, back and forth along the switchbacks.  I love riding on motorbikes in Asia!!  It’s so thrilling!  He returns me to my hotel.

I talk with one of the hotel staff women about arranging a tour for tomorrow.  Then, I walk around the corner about two blocks to an open air restaurant called Unique Myanmar.  There are a couple of large tour groups there, and of course I’m a solo traveler; I think restauranteurs don’t like to deal with people who don’t fill a table for two.  They deliver me a basket of curly tofu crackers with a sweet sauce, and I order prawn curry topped with a beer.  All for $12.  The atmosphere is wonderful, although I am quickly forgotten by the waiter and have to go in search of my bill.

I love arriving in a new country and tasting the local cuisine for the first time.  It’s a lovely end to my first day in Myanmar.  So far, I’m loving the laid-back vibe of this country that is so different from China.

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Categories: Asia, Irrawaddy River, Mandalay, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar, Su Taung Pyai Pagoda, Unique Myanmar | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “sunset on mandalay hill

  1. Kat, your Burma blogs make me desperate to visit there

    • Oh, you would love it so much, Dai. Wait till I get to the Bagan and Inle Lake parts. 🙂

      • I’m sure I would, Kat. It’s been on my bucket list for many years but because of the 7 day tourist rule and I never went when I was almost ready to book. I think this was slightly relaxed to 14 days later and I’ve no idea what length of visa they give us now.

  2. That pagoda is sumptuous! Everything shines 🙂

  3. It took me a while to realise this is you Cathy – it’s been a long day!

  4. The road to Mandalay is the romantic vision of my dreams and your photos are so fantastic, those last photos of the pagoda in the golden light of sunset are absolutely beautiful and being able to be there and absorb it all after the tourists have gone away on their tour bus is pure heaven. Do you remember this song? It kept going through my head as I scrolled through this post. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5_M9kTBmug . Hope it downloads for you.

    • Pauline, I’ve always had a romantic vision of Myanmar myself, and when I finish writing all about it, I hope you’ll catch the feeling that I had when I was there. It was like being stuck back in time 50 years, or more, and I’m so afraid that will change as more tourists discover it. I was totally charmed by it all, especially in Bagan and Inle Lake. I was happy when I did get a place to myself, but sadly it was high season and many places were crowded. Bagan is wonderful though, because you can rent an e-bike for the day and drive around on dirt roads all alone and have temples all to yourself. There are so many of them there, it’s amazing. I listened to your song, and I’d never heard it before, but now I have! Thanks for sending it. It’s great. 🙂

      • Hard to find any countries that have not been affected by tourism. After all I guess when a place is so beautiful people just want to see it.

      • I think you’re right. If a country’s got something wonderful to see, people will find it. They will come! 🙂

      • and I guess the countries will encourage it to get the tourist $$

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