River Cruise on Irawaddy River
Early rise on Saturday 28th January at 5.30 am as we have to be ready for the taxi at 6.00 am to take us to the ferry for a 10 hour river cruise up to Bagan. This was nice and leisurely and lots of sunshine of course. Ian was in his element as we were by water.
There is a lot of activity on the river. On the barges we passed there are two guys each side at the bow (front to those of you who are non sailors lol) with long sticks which are marked, dipping them in the water checking the depth. There are a lot of sandbanks in the river. Reminiscent of the Thames. The boat we were on did go aground at one stage, even though it only draws 1.4 meters. We meandered from side to side of the river following the channel.
We arrived in Bagan and disembarked onto long wooden planks to get ashore. Then up a really sandy stoney slope and then steps to the taxis. This is the first time I wished I hadn’t had a suitcase! We managed to negotiate a taxi fare and shared with a Scottish couple to keep the price down which was 8000 kyat per couple (approx £5). He wanted twice that to start with. Ian’s frugal side is coming out now we are retirees and he drives a hard bargain. We arrived at the hotel about 30 minutes later which looked lovely and it was. A bit noisy though as we were on a main road.
The Bagan Temples
Sunday 29th January we decided to hire bikes to go off exploring the temples, approx 2000 of them in the area. Unfortunately the area suffered an earthquake in August 2016 and received lots of damage. It was 8 on the ritcher scale. We hired bikes from the reception that we thought were push bikes that were electrically assisted. They were electric bikes but more like a moped with a crash helmet. Now those who know me well will know there is no way I’m getting on one of these. Despite Ian trying to convince me that it was the same as an electrically assisted pushbike but without the peddles I was not convinced and was not getting on it. So we had the standard pushbike.
It was amazing to ride around sand track roads (well most were paths rather than roads) and see so many temples and pagodas.
We visited one of the larger temples and saw a line of about 30 novice monks (ranging from 7 – 12/13 in age) going in. Buddhist monks are a normal sight walking around, many with their mobile phones in hand. The reason for so many is that every man is expected to serve as a monk twice in his life: once as a novice and once as an ordained monk. After that time he returns to a normal life. The link below gives some interesting information about the monks in Myanmar.
My photos don’t do the temples justice this is a picture I found on the web that gives a better idea of them.
We also paid a visit to another royal palace, “Bagan Thirzayayabyumi Golden Palace”. This is a reconstruction of King Anawrahata’s, the first king of Myanmar (reigned 1044-77), palace. He introduced his people to Theravada Buddhism.
We stopped at a local restaurant before having a relaxing evening (well needed after cycling). Monday we are off back to Mandalay on an air conditioned coach for 6/7 hours for one night before leaving Myanmar for our flight to Chiangmai.
The Film Star
Ian is now looking like a film star wearing his sunglasses all the time (no celebrity status hasn’t gone to his head) regardless of whether it’s sunny as he’s managed to lose his glasses. So will have to visit an optician once we visit Hanoi, Vietnam, which could be a challenge!