The famous marble slabs at Mandalay’s Kuthodaw Pagoda have been undergoing a major scrubbing since last month, with more than 600 of the 729 stones already cleansed of lime, graffiti and paint. The marble slabs, donated by King Mindon (ruled 1853 to 1878), are inscribed with Pali-language text from the Tipitaka – the Theravada Buddhist canonical works – and are promoted in tourism literature as the “world’s biggest book”. 

Jun hamlet has come up with a new type of community-based tourism co-operative in Lien Son town, Lak district, Dak Lak province, generating employment and stable incomes for locals who are the proud owners of the most unique and famous as well as the largest number of elephants in the locality and within the country as a whole. The reason why people call it an ‘elephant tourism co-operative’ is because members of the co-operative, who are mostly Mnong people, use their 18 trained elephants as the main contributors to the co-operative’s tourism activities. 

Mandalay Hill is lush and green during the monsoon, towering majestically over the city when viewed from across the moat of the Mandalay Palace. On one fair day, it looks picture-perfect under a blue sky and silver clouds. The hill is the residents’ pride and joy, a must-go destination for anyone visiting Mandalay. I usually take my friends to the hill whenever they pay me a visit but I rarely go there on my own. Being part of the urban crowd, I never have time to go up the hill though having passed it by many times. But one recent evening, I broke with the norm and decided to hike up the hill just for exercise.

Preserving traditional stone masonry houses in Trong, Zhemgang might be financially unrewarding for its owners but these houses are a treasure-trove of Bhutanese architecture, according to researchers from Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan. “It is special, unique and beautiful, not only the houses but also the way everything in its surrounding is used to suit the topography of the landscape,” said associate professor Akiko Yoshimura, who is leading the study of Trong village. 

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