Lazy cruise down the Areyarwady (Irrawaddy) river from Mandalay to Bagan

Day three of our trip to Myanmar was a lazy boat trip to Bagan about 50 km downstream.

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The Areyarwady River starts in the Himalayas and goes for about 2000km through Myanmar to drain in the Bay of Bengal. It was immortalized by Rudyard Kipling as ‘The road to Mandalay’.

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We boarded the boat (MGRG Express-Pioneer) from Gawain jetty, picked our rattan ‘lazy boy ‘and got set for a long and lazy ride. The perfect thing to do (minus the numb bum) for a relaxing day. The trip is about 50 km and takes about 8/9 hours.

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Shortly after leaving Mandalay we passed stupa covered Sagaing which we had visited the day before.

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We spent the day watching village life along the banks and barges, and boats plying along the river with loads of teak wood and containers. There was not much activity after a while but it was nice to enjoy the breeze and time to do some reading and writing draft blogs. A peaceful way to spend the day.

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We are travelling in the wet so there is not much chance of coming aground on the sand/mud spits but apparently it is quite common during the dry (peak season). It is wonderful to see the temples come into view as you get closer to Bagan.

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When were moored we had to ‘walk the plank’…..literally a piece of wood from the boat to the muddy bank. A group of people all gather to help the tourists, cheering and joking about not falling in! Offering rides etc. Bruce did a good job balancing our bag along the plank into the hands of our driver!

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There is a 25000 kyat fee per person to enter the Bagan Archaeological zone.

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Stayed at a hotel organised by the tour which was nicer than what we have been staying at. We went out for a walk to get our bearings and walked through town to the river and enjoyed a soft seat and a not so nice glass of wine while watching the sunset.

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Bagan is like a sleepy town with wide dusty streets, everything is at super slow pace, a bit like a sleepy sea side village. There are no street lights and some of the bikes don’t have head lights so you have to remember to take a torch when going out at night.

Puppet shows are advertised by a variety of puppets swinging from trees outside of the restaurant putting on a puppet show that night. Very colourful sight.

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We ended up having dinner at a little place not far from the hotel that does local food and enjoyed another few curries with side dishes. The food is delicious and they make lots of interesting salads such as green tomato salad, tea leaf and tamarind leaf salads which are delicious. The food is not as spicy as Thai food. They use a lot of fermented shrimp pounded with spices and a variety of roasted nuts. Might have to do a Burmese cooking class next time!Myanmar-02959

 

Author: Pascale Zufferey

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