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We took a return flight from Bagan to Mandalay. Although we thought we were booked on Mandalay Air, we ended up being on Air KBZ. Apparently if there are not many passengers, they put everyone on the one flight. Really it made no difference to us. KBZ is also a bank and a few other companies – all owned by one of the jade mining military giants. There was only about six people on the flight!

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Another propeller plane but this time smaller than the one to Mandalay from Chiang Mai but I we are getting used to it. Not sure if I want to ask our pilot friend what the safety records are like! It was lovely to see Winny (guide) again at the airport. We dropped our luggage off at the hotel and went straight back out.

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Just in case you wanted to be a frequent flyer!

Our first stop was a local market which we always find fascinating. There were an assortment of containers filled with all sorts of unusual things and lots of activity.

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I think Winny said the things in the front baskets is jackery a type of dried molasses. Looked like weird mushrooms.

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Winny pointing out the neatly arranged betel leaves and dried tobacco leaves. She was a bit of an attraction at the market!

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Sweets!

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Dried fish and a heap of flies!

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Tamarind pods…I think

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Need some greens with your chicken!

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Bruce took a photo of a vendor having a nanny nap to the amusement of the neighbouring store!

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Amused stall holders having a joke.

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We watched someone making some of these shopping bags. I was tempted but I already bought two when we went to Vietnam and they have been great. Used them as my school bag all last year and still going strong!

The different types of transport was also interesting.  It’s unbelievable how they can pile goods onto bikes and carts.

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We moved on from the market to the river for a boat trip to Mingun about 12 km away. The river area was lined with an assortment of boats where local goods were shipped and exchanged. The place was very dirty with rubbish everywhere…a typical port I suppose.

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We boarded  a large old boat and were surprised to see that we were the only passengers! A bit embarrassing, we must have paid too much! I think that a boat is hired whenever you need to go somewhere up or down river. Apparently most people go to Mingun early in the morning to escape the heat and winds which blow up in the afternoons making it a bit more choppy.

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Like my attractive hat?…Bruce doesn’t!

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The fancy deck to ourselves!

We set off up river to the sound of the diesel engine.  We watched some more village life. It was interesting to go past fishing houses built up on stilts to avoid flooding and the changing water levels.

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As you arrive in Mingun you can’t miss the mighty Mingun Pagoda built by the slaves of one of the most daring rulers in Burmese history. The stupa was never finished but if it had been, it is said that it would have been higher than the great pyramid of Giza in Egypt. We climbed to the top to see the views.

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We also visited the massive bell that weighs 200 000lb (whatever that is in Kg) and hit it three times for good luck.

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We also visited a very different white pagoda called Hsinbyume which has seven levels of wavy terraces leading towards a central stupa. One representing oceans and the universe…or something like that. We also viewed it from the top of the Mingun Pagoda.

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A bit strange but a new Buddha was placed in front of the old one as overtime I think they have changed the way they represent the Buddha image. For example the length of the earlobes and shape of the mouth has changed.

We spent some time wandered through the village and Winny chatted to a few people. It is nice having a local guide as the locals seem quite comfortable and you get to spend more time taking in the local way of life…and get the opportunity to take some nice photos. We found that as long as we asked permission everybody was happy to have their photo taken and had a bit of a laugh when they were shown it on the viewfinder.

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We passed a monastery and watched the novice monks playing up for their teacher when they were supposed to be working. Kids are the same everywhere! We learnt that many poor families send their children to monasteries, for some amount of time to become novices, as they get free education and are well looked after. The monks look after a lot of children.

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These novices were mucking about doing back flips on the mound of dirt they were suppose to be leveling or moving.

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This little fellow was just hiding and having a rest on the bench! Very cute!

We wandered back through some stalls to the boat for the trip back home. Bruce bought a piece of fabric to use as a tablecloth at ‘home’.

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It was interesting to see some young men fishing on the banks of the river.  Bruce was checking out how they rigged their lines. We saw a tiny fish being caught which no doubt would have ended up in a bowl of stock.

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After some chatting in the car on the way back to the city of Mandalay the driver realized we liked Myanmar food. He recommended another local restaurant called Aye Myit Tar so we went there for dinner. We had curry and side dishes again which were very nice. I don’t think many foreigners went there as we were a bit of a novelty. The locals were smiling and giving thumbs up when they saw that we liked the food. We even got extra things bought out of the kitchen to sample, not that we needed anything else!

Spent another lovely day exploring Myanmar!

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Counting chillies…no counting sales!