Myanmar and the Alluring Irrawaddy

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My next adventure took me to Southeast Asia and the country of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).  After spending a couple of days in Yangon, it’s largest city and former capital, we flew north to Bhamo.  From there we boarded the Avalon Myanmar and cruised south on the Irrawaddy River to Bagan, visiting temples and villages along the way.

After another day in Yangon post cruise, my flight home took me through Beijing where I had a long layover – the perfect opportunity to visit the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.

Yangon, Myanmar

The Yangon Circular Railway is their commuter rail network.  It does a loop around the city, stopping at 39 stations along the way.  It’s less than 50km in total and takes 3 hours or more to do the full loop!  read more here – Yangon’s Circular Railway

The next morning was the start of my organized tour and they had a very busy day planned for us.  We started with a short walking tour of the colonial city.  read more here – Touring Yangon

Bhamo & the 2nd Defile

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…  read more – Bhamo & the 2nd Defile

Kyun Daw & Katha

As the sun came up in the morning, I realized that we were tied up to a sand bar.  The river is so shallow that the boat can’t move at night; they “dock” wherever they can.  Once daylight broke we headed back upstream to Kyun Daw.  This day was about the people, not the stupas and what a wonderful day it was…  read more – Kyun Daw & Katha

Katha & Tigyang

In the morning we toured Katha, the town that inspired George Orwell’s “Burmese Days” and visited a local Jingpo village to learn about their traditional dress and taste their rice liquor.  In the afternoon we visited a very large reclining Buddha in Tigyang.  read more – Katha & Tigyang

Kya Hnyat & Kottet

Today’s visit took us to Kya Hnyat, a small village of about 1,000 people, where we visited a monastery to present alms and to learn about the daily life of the monk.  After an afternoon of cruising, we were treated to a special, unscheduled stop.  read more – Kya Hnyat & Kottet

Kyauk Myaung, Dolphins & Dance

In the morning we visited Kyauk Myaung which is best known for the large 44 gallon (200L) “Ali Baba” or Martapan earthenware jars that it produces.  The afternoon was spent cruising the Irrawaddy with a special appearance by two pods of rare Irrawaddy Dolphins.  read more – Kyauk Myaung, Dolphins & Dance

Mingun & the U Bein Bridge

It was a beautiful Christmas morning on the Irrawaddy River, not a snowflake in sight.  We pulled anchor and literally crossed the river to Mingun home of the largest working bell and the largest unfinished pagoda in the world.  read more – Mingun & the U Bein Bridge


Myanmar’s 2nd largest city is Mandalay which is home to 1.2 million people.  It’s the site of Burma’s last royal capital and home to many significant temples and shrines.  read more – Mandalay


Just 13 miles southwest of Mandalay, the Sagaing Hill is literally dotted with Monasteries, Nunneries and Pagodas and is home to over 6,000 monks and 6,000 nuns.  read more – Sagaing

Shwe Pyi Thar & Puppet Show

The village of Shwe Pyi Thar is a typical riverside village where the locals harvest the sap of the toddy palm and make palm candy.  The process begins with a worker climbing the tall palms to collect the sap.  read more – Shwe Pyi Thar & a traditional puppet show

Magical Bagan

This magical day started with a sunrise over the ancient temples of Bagan and ended with a sun set over the same temples, with a lot more in between.  A fitting end to a wonderful cruise on the Irrawaddy.  read more – Magical Bagan

Back in Yangon – Kandawgyi Lake, ChinaTown & Sule Pagoda at night

It was time to say goodbye to the Irrawaddy and the Avalon Myanmar and her crew and fly back to Yangon.  My flight home wasn’t until late the next day, so I visited Kandawgyi Lake, photographed the Sule Pagoda at night and took a walk around ChinaTown.  read more – Back in Yangon

Mutianyu – a layover excursion to the Great Wall of China

On my way home I had a 13 hour layover in Beijing.  China now allows “transit without Visa” for up to 6 days so it was the perfect opportunity to see the Great Wall of China, just an hour or so north of the airport.  read more – Mutianyu