Ahh Mandalay, surely one of the most evocotive destination names in the world (up there with Zanzibar and Timbuktu). Rudyard Kipling may have had something to do with that with his poem (On the road to) Mandalay. For our generation, being in the middle of a land that has been under an economic embargo, Mandalay still sounds like it is from a far away and exotic land, in an era when lands are aren’t as far away any more.
Those who have been will soon tell you that the romance of the name doesn’t match the reality on the ground. Much of the city was destroyed in World War II, and todays Mandalay is built in the cheap Chinese concrete style. There is a palace in the centre of the city, and before I arrived the map kind of reminded me of Chiang Mai, giving me the impression it might be a lovely place to stroll around. The Mandalay Palace you see today is a post war facsimile and houses military personnel, so I just admired the view of these trees along the long stretch of moat the surrounds the palace instead.