當google 搜「Mandalay」的時候，通常會搜到一大堆負面的關連，多半是呻苦、叫悶、喊沙塵…… 我並不反對這方面的描繪（事實我的鼻子得靈敏不消數小時已領教得到其塵土飛揚的特性），但我只想在網路空間上為曼德勒盡一點綿力，為這個可愛的城市營造一丁點正面的資訊。坦然我這次旅程沒有把她看得很深入，但仍希望愛好深入遊歷的旅人會發現她的妙處。我慶幸是以下一程短短45分鐘的tuk tuk路程，竟給予連連驚喜，令我對曼德勒大大改觀！可惜車程上的見聞都是稍縱即逝，沒有機會圖文並茂寫出來。
When you google Mandalay, depressingly most search results are more or less the same description: Dusty. I cannot defend this fact (as my nose told me ever earlier than my brain knew) but I wish to supply some positive and substantial associations to this amazing city in the online universe, so that it can be discovered by more discerning travellers. A memorable 45-minute tuk-tuk ride has surprisingly gave me more reasons to believe this. (However, my camera nor I were fast enough to take pictures of everything encountered during the speedy tuk-tuk journey, so this post may not be as visually enticing as others did)
Passing through wet market of the local neighbourhood, our tuk-tuk wheels spun along fresh crops spread on market floor. At least 15 consecutive stalls displaying extremely similar mix of vegetables and fruits was totally spectacular glimpse to eyes. We couldn’t spot the boundary of market space but only flocks of dusk shoppers making a truly bustling scene as we passed by.
We then arrived at a wider road for cars and- horses. On both sides of road are tall and densely planted trees with occasional spot of cows sitting, eating grass or just procrastinating, so ignorant of busy traffic a few metres besides them.
Abundant handicrafts are also available along the way which caught our mere glimpse. Bamboo-woven board is used as hoarding or wall of little hut. Rattan wares, stone sculptures of Buddha, wooden crafted decorations, osk furniture, etc all laid out at road side, showcasing the real and dedicated craftsmanship to the public. However it was a rapid encounter that we could not take a closer look at them.
Attention was then switched to the far view behind the trees and barely could we see the harvested floodplain of Ayeyarwady River. It was a bare field which enabled us to see the happenings more clearly. Burning smoke was elegantly visible and was from agricultural burning to dispose vegetative debris and crop residue so as to maintain the nutrient within the fields for next crop. Such poetic view has triggered a slice of curiosity and emotion relating to farming lifestyle.
Mandalay is a place full of love and hate in the heart of Myanmar. The affection rooted from Mandalay’s historical significance in politics and religion which brought countless royal stories and thousands of stupas scattered around outskirt. Despite of destruction at different stages due to climate, natural disasters and war, their values have never been challenged. I am personally fond of Mandalay, unlike many travelers in the country. To my shallow knowledge, it has been the place where talents clutter and traditional handicrafts cultivated, let alone the massive heritage sites and the discoveries that come along with… which enriches the essence behind this last royal capital of Burma. The notorious fact is about the dusty weather resulting from its climate pattern and location – dry, flat land and lack of wind. No matter in day or night, it appears to be dusty and has more severe pollution problem than in other cities.
Every coin has two sides. However, over-emphasizing the negatives has entirely covered up the beauty of a unique city with plentiful contents. When Myanmar has been visited by more travelers, I only hope that the positive values she embarks can gradually overlay the single description of being ‘dusty’.