Finally – time to fly north and board the Avalon Myanmar!
Our destination was Bhamo, a small city in northern Myanmar that sits about 40 miles west of the Myanmar/China border. There is no scheduled flight from Yangon to Bhamo so Avalon had to charter a flight for us. It was a lot of plane for our small group of 19…
Although it’s Bhamo on the map, they also spell it as Banmaw. In fact, in town, all the signs say “Banmaw” including this airport sign.
We climbed into 2 waiting tuk-tuks for the short drive into the town centre, no fancy buses here!
I think this is the Monastery in Bhamo, but can’t be sure (we only drove past it). Regardless it is an interesting building, especially with the long line of Monk statues collecting alms.
Once we reached the market area of Bhamo we climbed out of the tuk-tuk and walked through town, taking care not to get run over!
Teak furniture is a big business in Myanmar and custom furniture shops can be found in almost every town we visited.
This was a shop in the market area – the solar panels are used to generate electricity to operate small electronics, like a tv.
These are all goods for locals, they don’t get a lot of tourists here.
As is many cities, people seem to congregate at the water’s edge.
The Irrawaddy River (officially the Ayeyarwaddy River) is a very shallow and fast running river. It runs the entire length of the country; from the mountains in the north of Myanmar to Yangon in the south.
Water levels are low at this time of year, so even though the Avalon Myanmar was built for this river, it couldn’t get to the dock in Bhamo. As a result, we had to take a Sampan to the boat.
It’s all part of the adventure!
We arrived safely and boarded our home for the next 10 days. After our safety briefing we settled in and began our trip south. There are 3 defiles (a defile is a narrow gorge between hills) on the Irrawaddy, cleverly named the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defile. The 1st is north of Bhamo so we didn’t see it, but we did travel through the 2nd and 3rd.
At the second defile the river takes a westward turn and passes through limestone hills and cliffs.
There are temples and shrines everywhere along the river, sometimes in the most unlikely places.
A small cliffside village, complete with temples, shrines and monk statues.
There are over 1,000 species of fish in the Irrawaddy so you see many fishermen, most of whom use nets such as this to catch their fish.
Who builds a pagoda on top of a boulder? Well, the Burmese do! This one’s most likely been painted with gold paint – it’s not shiny enough to have been covered in gold leaf.
The limestone cliffs of the 2nd defile. Can you see the parrot rock? This was painted to act as a marker – if the water level is high this part of the river becomes too dangerous to navigate. If you can’t see the bird you are required to turn back!
Another great day ends with a beautiful sunset on the Irrawaddy River…