"An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells
On the road to Mandalay..." - Rudyard Kipling, Mandalay

Although to most Americans, 'Mandalay' is just another luxury Las Vegas hotel, yet in Rudyard Kipling's poem, it conjures up boundless imaginations of an exotic, peaceful place in an oriental kindom, where palaces and temples fill skyline, stupas and pagodas shine, treasures and gems abundant.

Even in the twenty-first century, the real Mandalay isn't too far from such imaginations. Ox carts still rumble before the cluster of stupas in the Sandamani Paya (above), and pedestrains can still quench their thirst with water provided in the road-side jars (below).

 

Two gigantic lions guard the stairway entrance leading to the top of the Mandalay Hill, which forever watched the entire city and the green fields littered with golden and white pagodas.

 

Local tourists pose for pictures at the 230-metre summit . There, renovated facilities include a shrine, an elevator and a flat terrace. Fierce fighting erupted in 1945 when the British regiments fought to retake the Hill from the hands of the Japanese army. Today, little trace of the war is left, tourists and pilgrims prevail.

 

In the nineteenth century, Myanmar fell into the British Empire and reduced to part of the British India. The British colonial heritage can still be seen around the capital city of Yangon (Rangoon in colonial name), like these run-down residential houses (above) and government building (below).

 

The British colonists also encouraged migrations from India as well as China. As a result, a Chinatown was created in the city centre where gold shops and other business flourish. After many generations, most Chinese have been assimulated. Yet certain traditions are hard to fade. In Yangon's Chinatown, a group of Chinese celebrates the Chinese New Year with the traditional lion dance.

 

Ancestral temples are also being built to serve multiple functions as religious temples, ancestral shrines, and unofficial gethering places for people with the same origins, particularly for the elderly, like this group enjoying their past time in the Fujian Temple.