The Way of Mandalay

On our way to Mandalay from Bagan

After a bumpy six hour bus ride on dirt roads and the occasional pot holed paved road, through river beds and streams (that’s right, through), past dusty villages, past people walking seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and across what looked like high desert, we arrived in Mandalay. We step off the bus to a dozen or so animated and desperate looking taxi drivers and baggage handlers. They jokey for position around the door of the bus looking each departing passenger in the eyes with hands in the air yelling, “taxi,” and other unintelligible words. Our feet stomp onto the dirt road below where a dust cloud from previous foot falls and commotion is already head high. Disoriented from the dozens of buses parked at odd angles, while waving away the dust cloud and fumes, we begin to acknowledge the heat when suddenly, rain begins to fall lightly. We quickly arrange a taxi with no haggling because of theĀ  Belgian couple who offered to split it with us. A small blue Lego looking 1960s Mazda pickup truck pulls up and the four of us cram into the covered truck bed when the rain stops. Welcome to Mandalay. But wait, there’s more!