Arriving in Mandalay, Sarah and I took to the streets once again on bike. Cycling around cities or towns we get to appreciate and see a lot more. This place was busy and there was a huge amount to see and do in the area. First we visited the Mandalay Palace, the original magnificent palace was destroyed by fire during World War II. Even though the Palace has been rebuilt the city gates with their wooden pavilions and surrounding moat still represent an impressive scene. Unfortunately the reconstruction has used forced labor, as we found out after our visit.
After a greta time in Bagan, Mandalay was to be our next point of origin. Sarah and I opted for the road less travelled option, and booked ourselves on the ‘slow’ boat up stream to Mandalay. This direction on the ‘slow’ boat wasn’t usually travelled by foreigners, and once boarding we realised that we were to be the only foreigners to be on board for the entire trip, in these situations we were fortunate to have each other.
Bagan, the land of thousands Pagodas! Bagan really impressed us. Hiring bikes for a couple of days, riding around and exploring the old pagodas was a real highlight. Sarah playing tour guide once more, lead me around this area with map in hand.
Shwedagon Pagoda was our first stop once we hit Yangon town. Wow! This is probably the most impressive temple we had ever seen. We spent nearly 2 hours there! Only spending a short time in Yangon, seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda, eating doe delicious food, we knew we were going to like Myanmar.
Having only limited time left in Sri Lanka, we didn’t want to stay in Columbo after Jaffna so we shot down to Bentota. It took us 14hrs from Jaffna to Colombo, then 2hrs on a bus down to Bentota, and the guest house owners thought we were crazy, but for the last few days in Sri Lanka, it was worth it. Staying at the beach for a few nights, chilling out at Long Beach Cottage, we then headed for Negeombo and our flight out. The train ride was another highlight, following the wild coastline, watching waves crash literally into the side of the train.
Anuradhapura as a short stop over to see some of the most well preserved ruins of accent Sri Lanka civilisation. We could visit most of the ruins for free by renting a bicycle and riding through the city. Some sites came with the handsome entrance fee of $25US, we decided after knowing what little goes to the community and how much goes to the government that we would stick to the less known sites. It was a lovely day on bicycle!
After two bus’s and a tuk tuk we arrived in the surprisingly cute town of Sigirya. Sigiriya is famous for its 200 metre high red stone fortress and palace ruins which are surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs and other structures. It is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescoes). The rock was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha. The complex was built by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE). Fearing an attack, Kashyapa moved the capital and his residence from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura to the more secure Sigiriya.
Staying with Uncle Peter and Aunty Elly we became welcomed into a wonderful family. Family day at the Dierenrijk Zoo in Nuenen was organised well before we were going to stay in Deurne, how lucky we were to stay at the time they had planned to go.