Sunday 30 January: Arriving in Mandalay in the early morning darkness I have time, after a hot shower and a boiled-egg breakfast, to catch the 9:00am boat to Mingun. We board the tiny wooden ferry with a captain and one crewman, a wiry old man who's job is to constantly bale out water from the leaky skiff which is filling up only slightly quicker than he can bale.
The main sight is the massive unfinished stupa of Mingun Paya, earthquake cracked and crumbling. The government charge a three dollar 'renovation fee' to climb it. I do not believe this fee goes towards any renovation at all so, for a small donation, I climb the nearby whitewashed Mya Thein Dan Pagoda instead for similar hazy views over the Irrawaddy river.
The largest intact bell in the world (the larger bell in Moscow is cracked), intended for Mingun Paya, hangs in a simple building next door. Both monks and tourists duck inside the bell to feel the full effects of its tone. Back in Mandalay my foot is still painful so I take a cycle trishaw (78th mode of transport) back to the hotel for an early night.
Pictures of Mingun.