Listen to:
Through the Wire by Kanye West (a little bit frantic, but a somehow Kanye chill)
I need a Hero by Bonnie Tyler (only at sunset)

I was worried that Mandalay wouldn't be worth it (sounds like a reoccuring skeptical theme, I'm just noticing). It was at least an $80 excursion outside the other two big tourist sites in Burma but we went, mostly to see the Mustache Brothers (more later). We had asked a couple tourists along the way advice on thing to do because we really had no idea. The report on Mandalay was always something like 'it's not a charming city. At all. But go..." Great advice/warning that the city sucks.
The most charming part of the city: A giant (yet empty of anything but trees) palace or government building with a huge moat around itWe scammed U Bain Bridge (great name) on the way from the airport. It's something like the longest stilt bridge in the world. I wasn't sure how long that would have to be (or if any other bridge is competing for the title). It took a good 25 mintue to walk across0 though sissy pants Lisa and I weren't exactly hurrying (nor walking a normal pace) acros rickety slats with a somewhat large space in between. Couples and cliques from Mandalay's many universities giggled along the way and gondola-looking boats parked along trashy shores for a lake view of the bridge (no thanks).
Just the beginning
My favorite thing to do in a new city is just walk. So we walked (also because we didn't know what else to do). For hours, eating from street vendors, checking out local shops, commuicatinw ith the neighborhood peeps (which mostly meant smiling, saying hello and being laughed at). Come evening time we headed to the sunset hotspot (we apparently can't get enough of these) - Mandalay Hill. Hello death march! We though it would be a couple hundred steps of to the lookout point (stupid, stupid, stupid). It was, a fine view. But another set of stairs hid in the corner. Another level, another fakeout, another set of stairs. Kill me now, I don't even like sunsets or this stupid city or traveling or being hydrated or anything besides getting this climb over with. We should have listened the first time someone warned, 'you're too late' before the sunset had even begun. Turns out the actual top was over 980 steps up- we made it just as a blood red sun was falling behind the pollution cloud. A way more massive city than I'd realized, Mandal sprawled in all directions and looked peaceful at dust. A couple laps around the observation deck/worship edifice we booked it down so we would spend the least about of dark time possible in the maze.
Tri-shaw riding with the nicest man in town

I probably should not post picture with my face like this
Fun fact about Burma: It used to be a British colonial state and so cars would drive on the left side of the road, steering wheel on the right. One day a decade or so ago, the government decided to flip a giant bird to the Brits by switching back over to the right. Overnight. No change in steering wheel means a giant blind spot. The result is that most streets without medians really have no lanes to speak of. One big free for all lane where vehicles swerve with little regard to their placement on the road.
And usually jam-packed with people

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