- Day 1 – Yangon’s Circular Railway
- Day 2 – Touring Yangon
- Day 3 – On the Irrawaddy River – Bhamo & the 2nd Defile
- Day 4 – Kyun Daw & Katha
- Day 5 – Katha & Tigyang
- Day 6 – Kya Hnyat & Kottet Orphanage
- Day 7 – Kyauk Myaung
- Day 8 – Mingun & the U-Bein Bridge
- Day 9 – Mandalay
- Day 10 – Sagaing
- Day 11 – Shwe Pyi Thar & a Puppet Show
- Day 12 – Magical Bagan
- Day 13 & 14 – Back in Yangon
- Heading home – a layover trip to the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu
As with every other day, my day started on the front of the boat, watching the sunrise and the river wake up. This was another of my favourite mornings – the cloud and the fog made the scene somewhat surreal.
Some images really lend themselves nicely to black and white…
I was fascinated by this colourful boat, shrouded in fog…
The day at the monastery starts early, at 4 am, so it was no surprise to see that the kids were up. As with the day before, they were on the staircase, but this time it was, sadly, to say goodbye.
We sailed down river about and hour and a half, to the town of Kyauk Myaung. This town of about 15,000 is best known for it’s pottery making; almost all of the residents are involved in the industry in one way or another.
There was pottery everywhere in Kyauk Myaung. Much of it was completed and waiting at the river to be loaded on to barges and floated downstream to be sold.
This made me chuckle – these two pups couldn’t even wait for Mom to sit down!
And no post would be complete without at least one picture of the curious children…
The owl is a symbol of good luck in Myanmar so you see them everywhere. You can’t just have one owl though, you need a male and a female to bring good fortune.
The clay is a mixture of red clay, from the Irrawaddy river bed, and white clay, from a deposit nearby. The clay is broken up into small pieces and shoveled into small baskets which are then carried to the grinder. It’s hard, hot and dusty work which, from what we saw, was only being done by women.
These pots had been formed and were drying in the sun before being moved to the kiln for firing.
These 50 gallon pots, known as Martaban (or Ali Baba) jars, were used to move liquids (liquor, oil, fish sauce) in Colonial times. Making them is a family affair – while one family member spins the wheel, the other forms the pot.
This man was actually helping to spin the wheel with his feet while simultaneously working the clay.
In this village, the pots are glazed with the by-product from the silver mining process. It is heated over an open fire and then applied to the dried pot.
As your taking this all in, a random motorbike loaded up with colourful balloons goes driving by…
Many of the homes here are made with woven bamboo and then coated in oil. The blue outcropping is their buddha altar – every Buddhist home has one. These houses are typically only one room and have no kitchen – that is separate from the house.
The firing process requires a lot of wood, you see it everywhere, sometimes neatly stacked, sometimes not.
These large (and heavy) jars are rolled on to ox carts for the short trip to the river.
This is one of the kilns in the village. It had been recently fired, the jars were inside cooling before it could be opened.
On our way back through town we came across this young monk and his friend out collecting alms. They were stopped and resting at this shop. Myo showed us the food they had collected and then went into the shop to buy them some pencils. Next thing you knew, everyone was buying things to present to them…
They left pretty overloaded, but happy…
After our tour we had some free time before the ship was to leave, so we walked around town a bit more. These chinthes still looked pretty good, but the shrine they were protecting has seen better days.
At this end of town there were many places making the small pottery items. This woman actually stopped for us so that we could take her picture!
It was so nice to be able to wander the “back streets” and feel completely safe and welcome. You just don’t get that everywhere.
A few more shots from our walk…
Time to return to the Avalon Myanmar and sail away…
Back on the river, there were of course, more shrines. This one, near Singu, was pretty with the hills in the background.
The Irrawaddy Dolphin a freshwater dolphin that can be found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia and in 3 rivers, one of them being the Irrawaddy. They are extremely rare; it’s estimated there are only about 70 in this river. At one time they used to help the local fisherman by rounding the fish up and forcing them into the nets; their reward would be the fish that fell out.
This part of the river is where they are most often seen, and we had two small pods swimming around us for about 15 minutes. We were told they don’t normally stick around long when they do make an appearance, so we were very lucky.
We stayed a good distance away from them, but I had a longer lens with an extender and this is pretty heavily cropped…
Some of the boats on the river sit so low, you wonder how they aren’t taking on water…
This was a marble mine; at first it looked like a temple perched on top of a mountain.
The Mingun Pagoda, the world’s largest unfinished pagoda, is an imposing structure from the river. More on that tomorrow…
Our “dock” for the night was a sandbar across the river from Mingun.
For us, it was just in time for sunset. For the crew, it was just enough time for a bit of soccer before dark.
After dinner it was back to the sand bar for a bonfire and a traditional dance program presented by students from a local school for the performing arts.
They danced on a small mat on the sand. How those girls could dance in those dresses and not get tangled up is beyond me…
No performance would be complete without the comic relief…
After the performance they grabbed the guests and a dance party broke out to end yet another fabulous day.