This is my third time in Mandalay and besides exploring the city enough times, I am sure there are still many places in this city to visit, like the Jade market in Mandalay.
In case you don’t know, Myanmar is a country rich in natural minerals like gold, jade, and precious stones like rubies for instance. This is also the reason why there are still many intern conflicts in the country. People are fighting for those areas rich in natural resources.
Anyway, Myanmar has the biggest resource of Jadestone, a stone that is very appreciated by the Chinese and also Vietnamese. – I have learned that in Vietnam as I keep on seeing Jade bracelets costing more than 2000 USD. The truth is that you will find many Chinese buyers in the Jade market. They have the knowledge and analyze the stones carefully before negotiating. You can see them with torches, or whatever lighting the stone to check its quality. I wished I understood about the stone the same way, as I am sure you can get pretty good deals in this market as you can buy raw stones, not lapidated, that you can use as you wish.
I am sure these Chinese make a lot of profit from these businesses. I wanted to see that hustle and bustle of people trying to get the best stones, but once I got there the things were pretty quiet. My motorbike driver said that the market is closed, but I still see people sitting on the floor with mats filled with stones. Maybe this is not the real thing, but I still wandered around.
I could still see many stones for sale, but not that many Chinese, or buyers. There were unpolished stones, ones bigger than others, some were polished and already prepared to be used, but mostly you see Jade pieces in different tones. There are also 2 stalls where they sell souvenirs made with Jade, like bracelets, necklaces, buddha statues and other decorative pieces. Although the focus of the market is Jade, you will also find other stones, like rubies, a blue stone that I have no idea about the name, and some others. I don’t know about the authenticity of the things and I’m not an expert, so I just bought myself some bracelets and a necklace and some as a gift for beloved ones.
After the market, I went for the second time to a monastery nearby: Shwe In Bin Monastery. I didn’t fully remember how awesome it looks. The carved wood is impressive and all the details let my jaw dropped, wandering around. I walked from the Jade market to the riverside and the monastery was on the way. The walking distance is not so short, but I have all day, and I’m heading to one of my favorite things to do in Myanmar- river sightseeing.
The street along the river is not so good for a nice walk, but the part I enjoy the most is sitting on the staircases that connect the river to the street and watch how do these people live here. They are washing their clothes, taking a shower, brushing their teeth, swimming… There is a fluent flow of people going in and out. To my surprise, I could see some men doing their laundry. For me, it was surprising because in the Western world that is still seen as a women’s task, not for men.
I sit there for a long time enjoying the hustle and bustle down there and the smiles of surprise of the locals that see a foreigner sitting on a stair. I like those smiles and “Mingalabar’s”. I also had time to help a student practicing his English. He sat next to me and we had a short conversation.
You should really try this activity. Just bring some cold drinks and snacks with you as there isn’t much to buy along the street and sit enjoying and learning more about Myanmar’s culture.
Just on the other side of the river is a Chinese temple that I didn’t visit before so I decided to have a look as I have a lot of time. The temple is huge and very beautiful outside with one of the tallest gates I have seen at the entrance. Because I’m wandering in Mandalay’s streets for a while, I take this chance to go to the toilet. There is always a public toilet in temples. The temple was closed so I couldn’t see inside, but the outside looks very luxurious. Around was a group of kids playing with… guns. Yes, that was the most unexpected thing to see on a temple, kids running around with toy guns and pretending to kill each other. It was an awkward sight especially because we are in a religious area.
I ended up walking until this brand new place just by the river- if it’s not brand new it looks like it- that is actually a nice sunset spot. The place looks very fancy and its location next to the river is perfect to end the day enjoying the sun setting by the river and present us with an orange sky. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay until the best of the golden hour as I have a bus to catch at 7 pm heading to Loikaw.
While in Mandalay I always moved by Grab.
You have many things to do in Mandalay besides visiting the Jade market. Check them out!