Mandalay is the commercial center of Myanmar, a past capital city, and much busier than Yangon. Because of the greater ethnic and commercial diversity of this region, the application of traditional Burmese thanaka sunscreen makeup was less widespread, as were tourist attractions. Even the Mandalay Royal Palace restricted tourist visits to a small section of the compound which was used primarily as a military base. Exploration of the city helped me realized that although the country’s capital opened up to the west a few years ago, it has been open to it’s regional neighbors for quite some time.
It’s not uncommon for military forces to occupy really interesting, historic and useful locations in a city because of their strategic location or better defensive structures. Sometimes it’s possible to get a glimpse inside them, or perhaps get an satellite view from a map, but hopefully over time the need for such central military presence declines and these spaces can be reclaimed by the communities.