2017 was a big year of change for Mandalay, from physical changes in the city’s landscapes to more subtle shifts in attitudes and habits. As we enter in to 2018 it seems this trend will continue throughout the new year, writes Susan Bailey.
The city’s landscapes were scarred by dramatic fires in 2017, with seven major blazes destroying property in various townships. Rebuilding will take time but the centrally-located Mingalar Market, gutted by a blaze in March 2016, is finally under reconstruction and set to open in the first quarter of 2018. The Mandalay Convention Centre and Pullman Hotel, two modern building projects in the south of the city, are also slated to open in 2018 after months of delay. And the landmark Sedona Hotel, now under the Hilton brand, re-opened with a fancy new look at the tail end of 2017 while Mandalay Hill Resort, the city’s other iconic hotel, is slated for renovation in summer 2018.
Mandalay’s passionate foodies were also treated to a host of new offerings in 2017. Hana Yakiniku and Eighteen led the way in terms of international offerings while Unique Mandalay Tea Room and Generation Tea elevated the city’s tea shop culture to a whole new level. Shisha bars also popped up like mushrooms, from the revamped rooftop Sky Bar @ Café Brolly to the opening of Jungle Bar, a reincarnation of the ever-popular Café JJ Bar on 26th Street.
And 2017 was also a year when Mandalay residents showed of their city’s culture with great pride to the rest of the country. The city reaffirmed its love for two-wheel travel with several motorbike shows and bicycle races that were packed with fans, young and old. The 2017 Thingyan celebrations were focused on the city’s rich traditions, with a ‘walking street’ complete with free hair washes and parades included the iconic Silver Swan Float and Kyauk Se elephant dances.
2018 is off to a good start, with MCDC investing in road works and sanitation programs to improve the quality of city life. More dining and drinking venues are in the works and plans are underway for an even bigger and better Thingyan, with the return of the walking street and more.