The ride to Mandalay was not as bad as I had expected, although I still haven’t mastered the art of sleeping on overnight buses. We arrived in the afternoon, tired and groggy, and made quick business of checking into a hotel to nap the rest of the daylight away.
Mandalay, Myanmar’s second city, is a dustier, even less modern version of the capital. There are no streetlights nor traffic lights, electricity is intermittent at best, and the roads are a shambles. Everything in sight is coated in a thick layer of the bust that follows the traffic in brown clouds. Instead of taxis there are bicycle trishaws and pick-ups, but otherwise the scene on the street is much the same as in Yangon: tea shops, hole-in-the-wall restaurants serving cold, oily Chinese and Bamar food, a smiling baby everywhere you turn, and piles of books, sunglasses and cheap electronics on street-vendor tarps. We allotted one full day to exploring Mandalay which was more than enough. To celebrate Pui’s birthday on the 4th, we ate dinner at one of the (few) “nicer” Burmese restaurants in town.