The first thing I would do every morning was look out the window. On this morning I didn’t even leave the room before taking my first photo; I grabbed the camera and tripod, opened the door and started clicking away.
Then I headed up top for the sunrise and it was one of the prettiest. The colours of the sky were amazing…
A few shots from the river as we sailed towards Kya Hnyat.
Welcome to Kya Hnyat!
By the time we arrived at Kya Hnyat it was after 10 am and the ladies were at the riverbank doing their laundry.
Our welcome party, once again, was a group of children…
We walked up to the local monastery to learn about the daily life of the monks. Most of the monasteries we saw had stone walls like these around the outside which, from a distance, look like tombstones.
Avalon brought all of these goodies – everything from toothpaste to soap to cookies to colouring books – for us to present to the monks.
They formed a line and quietly walked past us as we deposited items in their urns.
Since this was the Avalon Myanmar’s last trip until (hopefully) 2020, the ship’s crew presented also the head monk with 2 large bags of rice.
The yard of the monastery was full of animals and children and these two geese oblivious to it all…
This young monk was watching us from a distance…
The (adult) monk’s robe is a piece of fabric about six by nine feet. It’s made by sewing several pieces of fabric together, traditionally scraps that had no use to anyone else. Historically they were died to differentiate them from the white robes worn by the common people. Today, the robes are manufactured but a monk cannot buy a new robe – it must be donated by others. In Myanmar, the majority of the monks wear these maroon coloured robes.
Most of the time the monks wear their robe with their left shoulder covered and their right shoulder and arm exposed. For ceremonial occasions, collecting alms or just when they’re cold they wear them covering both shoulders. We were given a demonstration on how the monks tie their robes for collecting alms – it takes about a week to learn and over 2 minutes for him to show us.
Then we were taken over and shown their lunch, and there was plenty of food. This was just the food for the young monks, the food for the senior monks had already been placed on their table.
In the monastery, the senior monks eat first. While they are eating, the young monks meditate.
We left them to eat their lunch in peace and headed back to the boat. Along the way we encountered this bike, loaded up with bamboo baskets.
Once again, because we were travelling south with the powerful current of the Irrawaddy helping us along, Avalon had another special treat in store for us. We sailed through lunch and into the afternoon, arriving at Kottet monastery and orphanage shortly after 4:00 pm. What a welcome we received! The children were lined up down both sides of the stairs, yelling Min-ga-la-bar repeatedly in unison. What could we do but yell back. We tried our best, but we were outnumbered and it was impossible to outdo them!
Girls down one side, boys down the other…
These kids are all orphans and most of the boys choose to join the monastery; only a few weren’t in robes…
We went into one of their classrooms and Myo wrote the names of all 18 of us on the blackboard. The children then spelled out our names in Burmese and pronounced our names in English. It was loud, chaotic and fun. This is my name is Burmese:
The girls here had done some really pretty patterns with their Thanaka paste…
This is their “bell” – it’s actually a shell casing from one of the wars.
While the state pays for the teachers for the school, the orphanage itself is entirely run by donations.
Some of the guests had brought school supplies for the children and many of us who hadn’t simply made a donation. Everything was given to the head monk, the children lined up (young monks first, then the others) and were all given an equal share. It was amazing (and humbling) to see these children, who have so little by our standards, calmly wait their turn.
This is our cruise director, Mark, and the monk who runs the orphanage.
And a beautiful sunset to end another perfect day…