Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Striking Gold in Mandalay

Things start early here, presumably to avoid the heat of the day.  Last evening it was hotter than we expected for that time in the evening.  And today was a scorcher - well in excess of 40 degrees before lunchtime.  So after breakfast (served 5:30 – 9:00am) we headed off to get a feel for the city.  We wandered along streets and were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to say hello in English or the Khmer greeting of Mingalabar

We found a gold pounders workshop we had been looking for and were invited in to see the process.  As explained to us a small lump of gold is pounded for about 6 hours in total to produce gold leaf.  Of course this is done by hand and 5 well muscled young men were each relentlessly pounding their small lump of gold.
Gold Leaf beating
A girl explained the process to us and showed us around. There was no pressure or suggestion we could buy anything, but I asked and we purchased a book of 10 small gold leaves (about $7NZ).

Walking around the sun and heat were so intense we both had to use our umbrellas as parasols and at 10:30 in the morning we felt it was appropriate to have a beer stop.  Sitting at a local cafe we watched Mandalay go by.  At one point a political procession came past.  It was NLD, the party of Aung Sang Suu Khi, and it was interesting to see how positive the local people became, toting horns, and making positive noises.  We have seen a few street stalls selling NLD flags and salmon coloured tops which must be the party "uniform"

One noticeable difference between Yangon and Mandalay was the absence of police/military.  Everywhere in Yangon there were gun toting soldiers, here we have seen next to none.

Walking around for over 3 hours we did not see another western tourist.  But we saw plenty of locals who were very open and wanted to talk to the tourists. One guy even took pictures of us, the random tourists wandering in residential Mandalay.
Mandalay Faces

No matter how many mimes and sad faces Andrew made, these kids would not let him try their slingshot

Kids and Slingshot

We stopped at another local beer hall and sat with locals drinking ours beers and eating peanuts.

Mandalay Beer Hall
We got back to the hotel and as this was the hotel’s electricity rationing period there was no air-con so we headed straight off to Cafe V (a nearby western style cafe) for lunch and another cold drink.


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