Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mandalay - a walk through the back streets

On our way back from Inwa, we decided to get off the truck downtown and walk back to the hotel, to get a bit more of a feel for the city. Being on the truck is great, but with quick turnarounds and a packed itinerary, you can end up isolating yourself away from the general life of the place. So after grabbing some lunch, and passing by one side of the huge old fortress that used to house the palace, we decided to just wander our way back through some of the non touristy bits.

What we rather liked about Mandalay is that it seems to be an unpretentious city that is just getting on with its own business. Yes, we had earlier driven past some newer shopping areas, but most of the city was still low level buildings where people live simply, often over the top of their workplace if they have a business.

As was usual here, we noticed that it was the men who had time to spare sitting around in tea shops, whereas all of the women we saw were constantly busy.

 The areas we passed through were not exciting or photogenic, but they showed us a slice of life.  We had been wondering whether any recycling happened here, and found our answer when we chanced upon a road that was dedicated to the sorting and recycling of rubbish.  Each place was collecting together a particular product - plastic bottles, cardboard, tins, scrap metal, glass, old tyres - each each type of thing was being collected together and packaged up.

As we passed through, we got some surprised looks - obviously this is not usually where the tourists end up, even the dogs looked confused. We said a few mingalabars (hellos) as we went and most people smiled and said hello back. Some of the children ran alongside us practising their English, albeit just hello and goodbye.

We also found ourselves in a tiny alleyway that was just lots of small homes crammed in. The women here found it most amusing to see western tourists in their little lane.  At one point the street became so narrow that we thought we might have reached a deadend, but the ladies waved us, on through.

When we emerged onto a road again, a man helpfully pointed us down the street we should take to get back to the hotel. I'm not sure whether there is only the one hotel nearby, or whether he was one of the crowd that watched our arrival in the truck and he actually remembered us; neither would surprise me.

So we arrived back safely at our hotel, having enjoyed our wander through the streets, and looking forward to sampling some of the £1.50 bottle of local dark rum that we had picked up along the way.

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