Day 10 – Boating to Bagan

21 Mar

Ug, Ug, Ug, Ug.  Tried a shower to wake me up.  It only partially worked.

5:00am alarm (a time I never knew existed). 5:45pm boiled egg breakfast avoided. Who gives you a croissant, butter and jam but no knife in a packed breakfast?  Claire instantly regretted her choice of an egg free breakfast, with the fruit only option that was provided instead. I did manage to persuade the hotel to post the postcards for me.

With our bags loaded on the bus, we headed to the jetty for our fantastic, golden floating boat – not!  To reach our actual boat, we had to clamber through 3 other boats, with varying degrees of safety features to prevent you falling in the water or getting crushed between boats.  The rather shaky green steps were a particular highlight for the H&S report.  On board we headed upstairs to avail ourselves of the various seating options.  These were : cushion or no cushion, shade or no shade.  After much thought, I settled on the cushion no shade option.

The soft southerners were busy with all manner of second or third layers – from simple jumpers, to hoodies and down jackets.  As the boat got underway, the coffee, tea and toast was served below and a queue formed, including the variety of other passengers on the boat – including some Germans / Swiss.

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George helped me don my Longyi – Pasoe style.  I thought it might help prevent some sun burn later on.  However, jammy toast, stairs, and a slightly long longyi was a bad combination.  The toast survived!  Without access to any pockets, I adopted the local look by stuffing my phone into the pasoe.  Trying to catch up on sleep wasn’t going to be possible on this trip, but I tried.  Sagaing, a former royal capital & pagoda (number 1462 in our trip notes) interrupted my snooze.  Several photos later, and I was able to return to blogging, in the sun.

Our estimated 9 hour journey progressed but by 8:30am, some were already contemplating the alcohol options onboard.  Unfortunately the Mandalay rum was completely finished.

 

After a morning geography quiz game, where any Italian question was answered correctly by “Florence” and an early lunch consisting of rice, vegetables, chillies, egg and peanuts, the group began to show signs of restlessness.

It didn’t help the situation when we managed to follow a very noisy boat for a good hour, which also prevented any meaningful conversation.  However, we eventually managed to shake it off, and continued at a sedate 11mph (according to Waze).  I now also understand why the locals keep playing with their longyis.  Tucking in is not the same as a real knot.  However, they are really cool (in all senses of that word) – I’ll be mass importing them to Scotland and they will be available for sale at reasonable rates.  Much cheaper than a kilt!

By early afternoon, we had all pretty much set up camp as either shade crawlers or sun worshippers.  Books (the paper variety) were held poised near faces that that had long since been able to keep eyelids open. I was unable to join in, unfortunately.  Sleep is for later.

We passed families living and working by the river.  Fishermen and farmers, kids collecting water and mothers sheaves of crops.  They had to negotiate the steep sandy cliffs to the islands and banks in the river.  Dredgers were also out, helping Google Maps to be highly inaccurate as to the location of the island.  Our cheroot smoking skipper got us through with problem.

Passing the Pokémon inspired town of Pakokku and a really long bridge, George informed us that there was only 1 hour left.  As it turned out, he was stretching the truth a little.  “Ish” entered the Myanmar language.  Our 9 hour journey actually turned into 10.5 hours.  Thankfully, he also broke out the cake from his bag at this point and passed it around.

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Finally, at 5:30pm the “May Kha 2” docked in Nyaung-U (just a short bus ride away from our hotel in New Bagan).  However, getting off the boat proved the toughest task yet.  The two boats moored alongside were easy enough to cross, but there was then a sequence of 3 or 4 narrow boards, with only 2 handrails available.  All the time, kids were playing and adults were washing in the water beside us.

We made it safely to the bank, and watched eagerly to make sure the porters carried our luggage safely across as well.

A new bus met us, and we transferred to the hotel – for 3 nights.  It has a pool, but no WiFi in the rooms (only at reception or the pool). This will make photo uploading tricky.

 

We met for food and walked to the local restaurant without George – see, we can do things ourselves after all!  The food was great – chicken curry with coconut milk (Burmese style) and coconut rice, but the service was very disjointed, with either the curry or the rice arriving independently of each other.  But at only £4.20 for the entire meal, no-one was really complaining.  The families that now live in the one street that is “New Bagan” were evicted from their homes in “Old Bagan” in 1990 by the government, but are now quite happy to develop their skills in the tourist trade.  It’s obviously still a work in progress though.

After some debate regarding the time of the sunrise, we all headed to bed.  Another 5am start tomorrow (optionally) to see something that happens every day. Why did I volunteer for this?

Because it’s a special place …

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One Response to “Day 10 – Boating to Bagan”

  1. jonathanochart March 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    Great photos – looks like an experience of a lifetime. The cake looks delicious!

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