The last Burman King, Mindon, reigned in Mandalay, until given the heave-ho by the invading British in 1885. It was the habit of Burman and Mon Kings to move the capital (and kill and imprison rivals) upon taking the throne.
Around Mandalay are several former capitals, such as Ava, Amarapura, Sagaing and Shwebo. Adding Monywa, which has several important Buddhist monastries (which I may not have visited) and the British escape from heat hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin makes for an interesting loop through regional Burma and its history. I visited in 1997, and I am quite unsure of where many of these images came from exactly. I also wish I had spent more time, and gone in with more knowledge of the area and its sights. I look forward to the day I can safely do the area more justice.
Mandalay was the last capital of an independent Burma, ending with the British destorying much of the Palace in 1885.
Burman captials regularly moved upon ascent of a new King, and many of those former capitals surround Mandalay.
I really wish I had spent more time exploring them, and Mandalay, which is a pleasant, orderly city.
Popping into the backstreets reveals a less orderly side of the city, an expanding populous struggling under corrupt regimes.
A tourist boom failed to materialise in 1997's "Visit Myanmar Year."
Youngsters had plenty of time for goofing around.
Mandalay's markets are some of the biggest outside Yangon, although the pace a bit slower.
There were plenty of colourful characters in the markets, too.
The city itself isn't so old, built in 1857-9 to replace nearby Amarapura as capital under Mindon.
The British brought many immigrants from India, while at the same time moving the commercial focus to Yangon.
Many Yunnanese immigrants came to Mandalay in the 1990s, and Chinese goods and finance are important to the local economy.
Traditions- like this gents tatts- remain strong in Mandalay, seen as a cultural capital by the dominant Burman ethnic group.
I haven't been back since '97, when there was little sign of development benefitting the people.
Men and women alike performed ardous tasks on the docks, where mechanization was either old, limited, or non-existant.
Kids that should have been at school were working in markets or doing street hussle work.
As is often the case in Asia, the poverty or hardship doesn't stop people from smiling......
While the tourist found a traditional, pleasant city, with exotic markets and rural outings.....
Life for the citizens was not so rosy. They rose up again in 2021, and have met a brutal response.
I made a circuit of a few towns around Mandalay, Monya, Shwebo, and Pyin Oo Lwin.
All were very sleepy towns, although different in their own way.
While I have long forgotten what drew me to these towns, the insight into upcountry Burmese towns stayed with me.
Life was slow. Centred on Buddhism and family....
...and long hours passed in the tea shops.
Kids engage in casual work to support their family.
Those that can afford it send their kids to after-school classes, to supplement the inadequate state education.
Having an education is not guarantee is military Burma, but not having one is.
Away from the cities, there were few if any options outside farm work, in a world where carting water remains a daily ritual.
No doubt some did well under the semi-liberalised economy, although events of 2021 show just how dissatisfied the average citizen is.
Pyin Oo Lwin was the British hill station of Maymyo. Despite the badly damaged film, I like this shot, a frozen moment in time for a city frozen in time, in a country frozen in its history.