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Myanmar (Burma): Royal Cities

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Royal Cities | Myanmar (Burma) | Asia

[Visited: March 2006]

The day started early, when a small Toyota dinky-toy car drove us out of the dusty streets of Mandalay. After crossing the bridge over the Ayeyarwady river, it took us to the foot of the hills of Sagaing. After the fall of Bagan as the capital city of Myanmar, Sagaing was the capital in two different periods, first in the 14th century. What rests now, is mostly an enormous collection of monasteries, nunneries and stupas. You can climb up a seemingly endless number of steps, leading to pagodas and monasteries higher up, from where you have great views over the surrounding hills, dotted with spires of yet more pagodas, and of course, the mighty Ayeyarday river.

Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Lone tree seen from U Bein Bridge, Amarapura

From Sagaing, a peaceful place, inspiring for those who want to meditate, you have to again cross the Ayeyarwady to visit Inwa, another former capital of Myanmar. After crossing a small river, you can take a horse cart to get you around the dusty and sandy roads on this artificial island. Incorrectly called Awa by the British, Inwa was the capital several times. Nowadays, this is hard to imagine. A desastrous earthquake destroyed many buildings in 1823, and you can mostly see ruins now, a tilting watchtower, more monasteries and stupas, but otherwise, this island seems mostly geared towards visiting tourists.

Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Monk walking U Bein Bridge, Amarapura

Another former capital is Amarapura, which was the capital twice. Amarapura has pagodas and monasteries, an attractive village on the shore of Lake Taugthaman, but it is most famous for U Bein Bridge, supposedly the longest teak wood bridge in the world. It is a very aesthetic sight, blending in perfectly with the surrouding landscape. The bridge draws a representative crowd of Burmese, as it is the shortest link between the two sides of the lake. You can meet monks, village people, school children, fishermen, duckherds, and, well, other visitors. Walking the bridge is a pleasant stroll, the strong teak posts still hold the bridge after some 200 years. Coming back by boat it a good alternative as it gives you a different, more remote view of this wonder of human craftmanship.

Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Landscape of Sagaing: monasteries, pagodas and stairs on hills
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Orange monk robe hanging from wooden monastery at Inwa
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Monks walking U Bein Bridge, Amarapura
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Girls with bike on U Bein Bridge, Amarapura
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): U Bein Bridge before sunset
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Sunset over Taungthaman Lake and U Bein Bridge
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): U Bein Bridge and tree reflected in Taungthaman Lake
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Maha Aungmye Bonzan at Inwa
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Reflection of trees in Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Women walking their wares across U Bein Bridge at sunset
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Sagaing: rabbit donation opportunity
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): Nanmyin watchtower at Inwa, the last, tilting, remains of a royal palace
Picture of Royal Cities (Myanmar (Burma)): White stupa at Maha Aungmye Bonzan monastery at Inwa

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