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December 25, 2003

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Christmas in Mandalay. No one would know; it's a Buddhist town. We rode our bikes thru the streets and sang carols, but not one Burmese seemed to appreciate our version of "Jingle Bells" or "Silent Night."
Mandalay Fort and its moat dominate the city. The last Burmese king used it as a palace, then the British converted it to a club until the Japanese took over in World War II. Fierce fighting between the Japanese and British left the palace as a ruin. The Burmese National Army uses the fort today as a base and farm. Its huge grounds offer space aplenty for orchards and vegetables.
We wonder: does bad caroling jeopardize the stability of the State?
Besides Mandalay Fort, the city's other dominating feature is Mandalay Hill. The Hill provides a natural focus and offers the city's best view. A Buddhist complex crowns the top. From there you can view the fort on one side, the prison on the other. A Buddhist temple, an army fort, and a political prison - the essence of modern Myanmar.