Magical Mandalay Still Holds Court for Tourists
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FEATURE

Magical Mandalay Still Holds Court for Tourists


By SIMON ROUGHNEEN / THE IRRAWADDY Monday, March 12, 2012


Lu Maw in action “on stage” in his daughter's garage (Photo: Simon Roughneen)
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Nonetheless, a Kipling cafe sits across from the old Mandalay Palace—surrounded by four two-kilometer walls and moat which form a square around the restored royal household—which also houses military buildings.

In another indication of why Burma's government might have a bit to do if the country is to realize its unfulfilled tourist potential, two banners draped on the palace walls extol the merits of the Tatmadaw, the Burmese government's army.

“Tatmadaw and the people, cooperate and crush all those harming the Union,” reads one, a line that could have been lifted from Burma's parody-proof state newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar.

Even without the banners, the palace is tainted by accusations that it was rebuilt during the 1990s using forced labor—in keeping with long-standing allegations that the Burmese military press-gangs men and boys into working as porters and sometimes front-line cannon fodder in its campaigns in ethnic minority regions.

Locals are at best ambivalent about the palace and the surrounding area. “You need to go outside Mandalay to see the real Burmese,” says Lu Maw. Asked about how the city has changed in recent years, he answers,“Mandalay is like Hong Kong,” referring to the city's influx of Chinese citizens in recent years.

Some estimates put the Chinese population at around 30 percent of Mandalay's more than one million inhabitants. Mandarin signs proliferate on downtown shopfronts, and glass-fronted Chinese-style hotels are a common sight.

No joke from Lu Maw now. “Those are just fronts for drug dealers. The government turns a blind eye, and sells Burmese ID cards to the Chinese,” he concludes.



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COMMENTS (7)
 
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Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
22/03/2012
"Twenty-eight-year-old Kyaw Aung says, “I charge 1,000 kyat to read a palm.” This non-Buddhist practice at an otherwise Buddhist pilgrimage site serves as a reminder of the fondness of many Burmese for soothsayers and fortune-tellers."
VERY SAD.
1000 kyats for what? No production of good or service involved to improve people's lives. Only the rich should be employing thousands of palm readers to redistribute wealth and stimulate aggregate demand by empowering palm readers to spend.


David James Wrote:
22/03/2012
Myanmar Patriot,

As much as I love 2 hate u,I have 2 say I love u more than hating u,regarding ur comments.

Yes,All the ALIEN Journalist,also those local journalist that r still "WET" behind their "EARS" make us believe that they know ALL.
They don't seem 2 realise that there r people in & out of Myanmar (formaly known as Burma still can't get it through their heads that the country has changed it's name) have a vast knowledge of local HISTORY & experience than they will ever know.
These people I put in a catogarory of IMPERSONATORS 4 self BELIFE.
They write, print only what they want u 2 belive.It does not matter what POLITICAL party or goverment do 2 change,improve,make things better will never satisfy them.
Their point of view will always b NEGATIVE.
So 2 u I say IGNORE most comments as there will always b MORONS around...

shwe moe Wrote:
21/03/2012
Mandalay has lost her soul to the Chinese and has become an extension of Yunan. It has become Sodom and Gomorrah; another Bangkok where our young men and women can be had just over a few a kyats’s (no pun intended). I put the blame squarely on the Burmese Military Government of lining their pockets and flushing the country down the drain – can Yangon be next?



tocharian Wrote:
18/03/2012
Please prevent Mandalay from becoming a Yunannese city. I don't care about what Kipling said about Mandalay. He was never there, but I used to live in Mandalay during the 1950's, when it was less Chinese!

Nyunt Han Wrote:
17/03/2012
@ Myanmar Patriots

What SIMON ROUGHNEEN has written has nothing to provoke your immature response. Responses like these most commonly from the pro-governmental mouthpieces just show up your immaturity and upbringing. Didn't your mother teach you how to behave ? It's not too late to learn !

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
13/03/2012
It is not U Bein bridge, moron! It is U Pein. Pein mean thin or skinny. Get it? You, alien journalists, write a lot of rubbish about Burma, knowing nothing about the Burmese language. Burmese letter 'pa' is often pronounced as if it is 'ba'.
There is no Depayin. It is tabayin.It always has been Tabayin, about 9 miles south of Ye-U, in shwebo District.

We know everything. Including your lies and distortions.

kerry Wrote:
13/03/2012
Mandalay is a beautiful place, and it does not belong to China.

Peaceful means should be negotiated for all Chinese who should not be there to leave. That applies especially to those dealing in illegal activities or trade.

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