Having done such a similar route as Dennis and Barbara over a similar time period we once again coincided with them in Mandalay and met up with them for their last evening to watch one of Myanmar’s famous puppet shows on the roof of the Hotel Yadanarbon. With the use of very well made puppets of both humans and animals it was quite entertaining to watch as they danced to what we would call a combination of noises rather than music.
Mandalay was definitely by far the most developed place we visited in Myanmar. Surprisingly enough when comparing it to the other towns and cities, it was quite developed in terms of the fact that the city was well designed in a large grid with each street having its Individual number. As well as the layout, there were also a number of large shopping malls, expensive hotels and hi-tech shops, but despite this the majority of the streets and buildings in the city were very basic, dirty and generally underdeveloped in comparison to more economically developed countries. In our eyes it was just another large busy city with a couple of tourist attractions and so did not plan on doing much there apart from visiting these few places of interest.
Our initial intention was to travel from Mandalay to Chiang Mai via the Tachileik Border but we were soon to find out that this was not possible over land as it was forbidden to foreigners. We were later told by a couple of Thai locals that one of the potential reasons for banning any foreigners in that region could be due to them having opium plantations in the area. With our initial plan now erased, unwillingly we decided to get a bus down to the Myawaddy Border to then go back up to Chiang Mai. This was a very converlouted route, however it was by far the cheapest.