After a quick cup of coffee and some local breakfast we checked out of our hotel, packed our bags in the car and set off to enjoy our last day of touring in Mandalay. We spent the day sightseeing closer to Mandalay city before our evening flight back to Chiang Mai. We went for a bit of a walk along the moat area around the old palace. The moat is much bigger and cleaner than that of Chiang Mai and the water is used for the households. The military now occupy the old palace area behind the moat and walled area.

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We visited the Mahamuni Buddha image cast in 623 BC. The temple area was very busy with locals praying as it was a Sunday. Only men are allowed to the area where the Buddha is so Bruce went in to watch the local men apply little squares of gold leaf on to the Buddha. It is very strictly supervised by a few security guards.

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There were also bronze figures on display from a temple in Ankor Wat in Cambodia but I can’t remember why they were there! Locals were rubbing different parts of the figure’s body to help fix ailments. We soon became the attraction for some villagers who were at the temple. They were keen to have their photos taken with us. Anyway we all had a bit of a laugh.

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Bruce had to cover his knees.

wearing Poppy's sunglasses.

Wearing Poppy’s sunglasses.

Later we went to an area at the temple to make the local sunscreen everybody wears on their faces. It is made by grinding a piece of tree branch and bark and then collecting the skin coloured paste. The paste here is made to use for washing the Budda’s face every morning! Making some paste is like doing a good deed or making merit.

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Later we all had lunch together and after a lot of encouragement the driver also joined us. Another table full of Myanmar food and this time some jackery to try (Like balls of dried molasses..extremely sweet!) and some sweet sour dried fruit thing which was nice.

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We visited a gold leaf making place. Men bash real pieces of 24 carat gold into thin layers with a hammer mallet thing. It goes through a few different processes so that it is eventually paper thin. Although it is used to put on Buddha images, I bought a small pack to try on some of my paintings.

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We also had a look at the marble sculpting, woodcarving and textile workshops. The people are very talented and creative but I wish the man who was carving marble with a grinder, and completely covered in marble dust, would wear a face mask!

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Onto the Golden Palace Monastery which is no longer covered in gold leaf but just stunning, beautiful teak with its intricate carvings. We took lots of photographs and could have stayed there for hours as there was so much detail to look at.

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We also went on to see the world’s biggest book (acknowledged by UNESCO) which is actually the Buddha scriptures, if that’s what you call them, carved into marble tablets in the shape of the leaf of a book. Each page of the book is housed in a little shrine. Hundreds of shrines which cover a huge area around the Kuthodaw Pagoda.

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Bought a bunch of gorgeous lotus buds from this lovely lady.

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Her daughter was keen to apply thanaka paste (local sunscreen) onto my face. Should buy some as polyfilla and hide some crows feet!

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A real cutie!

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We then drove up to the top of Mandalay hill, taking a strange elevator for the last part to another pagoda and enjoyed the 360 view of Mandalay.

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We were driven to the airport at about 3:30 to catch our flight back to Chiang Mai. The Air Bangkok ticket said departure was at 6:10 pm but the plane left at 5:15 so that was a bit strange! We were actually enjoying ourselves in the departure lounge where they provided coffee and snacks! Maybe all the passengers were there so they thought they may as well go!! Luckily we were at the airport in plenty of time!

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The flight back to Chiang Mai was relaxing and we even enjoyed a semi decent wine. Although we arrived after dark, Chiang Mai felt very comfortable and noticeably clean and organised after Myanmar. It felt like we were coming back home after an amazing five day adventure! We are already planning to go back to Myanmar sometime. The people were so friendly and there was so much that we wanted to see but didn’t have time to do. We had a very special time.