Burma is paved with gold. It comes as no surprise, then, that most of the city's sacred sites were built with lots of gold elements. For centuries the gold in Mandalay has been processed into leaf gold by smiths. This trade has not changed much over time. It is still manual labour and it is still hard. Very hard. For hours the smiths pound their hammers onto bound packages until they are only a fraction of a millimetre thick and can be applied onto surfaces by hand. According to legend, the king's old palace as well as the U Bein bridge used to be completely covered in leaf gold. Unfortunately, the palace (which was made out of wood) burned down to the ground during WWII. Just like the original, the reconstruction that took its place was built by forced labour and is hence very controversial. It does, however, give you an idea of what the original must have looked like.