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The Mandalay Bike Tour – Grasshopper Tours, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) – part 1 of 4

By on March 24, 2017 in Myanmar/Burma

After the excesses of the Grasshopper Breakfast Tour, I decided that I needed to get some exercise so I signed up for their local Mandalay Bike Tour, which meant this time I would be pedalling myself.

The Mandalay Bike Tour lasted for just over 4 hours and took me out of Mandalay to visit some nearby villages and farms, and so I could see the traditional way of life.  The bike ride is not overly strenuous as it didn’t go up any hills, but it was hard work as you do cover a reasonable distance, and while the start of the ride is relatively cool, thanks to an early start, by the time your head back to the city around midday it was very hot.

The first stop on the ride was a local bamboo weaver.  Bamboo still plays a very important role in construction in Myanmar.  It is used for creating the scaffolding for the building, and weaves of bamboo are used for walls and floors, and fences, and for ‘wall support’ on the holes dug for outside toilets.

The weaving was impressive.

mandalay bike tour bamboo

And the thicker the bamboo was cut for the weave, the better the quality of the product.

mandalay bike tour bamboo fence

Different styles of weaving were used for different uses.

mandalay bike tour bamboo wall

There really was an art, and a lot of hard work, in splitting the bamboo to produce the weaving material. Below is a photograph showing the ‘raw’ bamboo and the start of the weaving process.

mandalay bike tour bamboo weaving

The image below shows a ‘tube support’ for the walls of the dug hole of an outside toilet.

mandalay bike tour bamboo pipe

The second stop on the Mandalay Bike Tour was at late.impaled.nightfall, which was originally a monastery that was built in 1857 and burnt down in 1975. It was then restored and is now used as a meeting hall.

mandalay bike tour 1

Nearby was the former King’s Meeting House, which was originally used by the King to discuss politics. It was built in 1857 and moved to its current location in 1890 and given to the monastery.

The fancy wooden carvings on the outside of the building were added by the monks and, like the interior was originally covered in gold leaf.

mandalay bike tour 2

Now, I became curious about this ‘1857’, as a lot of things seemed to have been built in 1857. It turns out that the King decided to move his court to Mandalay in 1857 and in doing so kicked off a building spree.

The next stop was the ‘Worlds Biggest Book’ at invoices.exacts.credible, and I had visited the book on my last visit to Mandalay in 2015 (see Maha Lawkamarazein or Kuthodaw Inscription Shrines, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) – the world’s biggest book?). The ‘book’ consist of 729 pages, well stone tablets, and the text is in a language that only royalty and monks can understand.

The Maha Lawkamarazein or Kuthodaw Inscription Shrines, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma), aka ‘the world’s biggest book’ is certainly worth a visit, and it was great to be there so early in the morning before the marble became too hot to walk on (you have to take your shoes and socks off as you enter the shrine).

Outside the shrine is a statue of the King that moved his court to Mandalay in 1857

mandalay bike tour founder

Again, I was impressed with the place.

mandalay bike tour worlds biggest book

The pages of the book (the stone tablets) are rather impressive.

mandalay bike tour worlds biggest book

Each tablet was housed in its own building so as to protect it from the weather.

mandalay bike tour worlds biggest book

mandalay bike tour worlds biggest book

It is sometimes hard to remember when you are visiting shrines such as this that they are not just a tourist curiosity but are in fact a working place of worship.

mandalay bike tour worlds biggest book

On this visit, the main pagoda was undergoing repairs.

mandalay bike tour worlds biggest book

My guide also showed me how to make the yellow Thanaka paste that is seen on the faces of many of the locals, and the raw material of which we had seen on the Breakfast Tour the day before  (see Why does that person have yellow paste on their face? for more information about the paste).

Making the paste looked like a lot of hard work.

mandalay bike tour yellow face prep

After a lot of vigorous rubbing of the bark on the stone, a surprisingly small amount of the paste had been produced.

mandalay bike tour yellow face prep 2

The artwork in the shrine is amazing.

mandalay bike tour biggest book

mandalay bike tour biggest book

mandalay bike tour biggest book

mandalay bike tour biggest book

mandalay bike tour biggest book

It was great to visit the Maha Lawkamarazein or Kuthodaw Inscription Shrines, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) – the world’s biggest book? again.  A stunning place.

And, where next on the Grasshopper Mandalay Bike Tour?

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
 

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