After arriving yesterday and visiting U Bein bridge in the late afternoon, today we decided to check out downtown. In the morning we first headed for a traditional tourist attraction and visited a typical gold workshop. A must as Mandalay is the main provider of the super-thin gold leaflets throughout Asia – the ones that get attached all-over the Buddhas and Pagodas. The kids were actually quite interested in and impressed by the production process. It involves manually banging a 3kg-hammer for hours on mini gold pieces to make them flatter&larger. The shops are definitely worth a visit.
After that we asked a taxi to take us to Zay Cho Market area. Hardly any tourists around and (as on U Bein) we were photographed, filmed and addressed extensively by extremely friendly and curious people. We wandered through the huge and decaying building that hosts hundreds shops (cloth, toys, meds, food, gems etc.). We were astonished by the amount of stuff and the athmosphere in there – a bit like a formicary. We stayed quite a while and ventured through all the floors discovering lane after lane. The area all around Zay Cho is no less interesting with food markets and stalls – extremely busy, loud, all very very basic but still organized. One also notices the poverty. The visit and walking around the area was definitely a highlight that we recommend and gave us a very interesting view of Mandalay. We felt 100% save at all time and we -primarily because of the boys- were addressed regularly.
What we missed to notice was the fact that there were not many taxis around. So it took us a while to find a suitable method of transport back to the hotel … we got us a local group-taxi that is usually over-filled with people. Definitely a drive to remember!