The Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar, A highlight of Old Bagan
The life blood of Burma, flowing the length of the entire country. At over 2,000km long, it is the largest in Burma. It is the Ayeyarwady River. It’s waterways seeping off and supplying the land with its fruitful liquid fingers.
This river, the main artery of Burma’s waterways, also gave new life to the countries inhabitants, namely one in particular. It was this river that from the Yangon harbor carried Irma’s boat to the mighty sea and into the Bay of Bengal, before crossing 3 major oceans with England set as the final destination, all those 44 years ago.
As we lingered by the river, we were soon approached by locals offering us trips on their boats, all lined up in their different stages of decay. We hired a local boat for 12,000 Kyat ($14USD) for all 4 of us, at $3.50 each for an hour’s private boat ride, this was definitely one of our better deals we got in Burma.
As the eager young boatman helped us on board, up the rickety ladder propped into the sandy water’s edge they busied around us, getting ready to launch.
The engine started with a thick plume of black smoke, and we were off, an hours boat ride down the Ayeyarwady. We were quick to get our water legs, Jmayel and I walked the boats wooden expanse taking photographs, while Badru shaded himself from the glary afternoon sun under the canopy.
Irma stood at the helm of the weathered boat, holding onto the rails, less extravagant than a titanic pose, but all the same. She felt on top of the world. Sorry. She regaled us with her memories of what it was like the first time round. On the water and leaving her country behind in a watery trail.
Her teenage boyfriend standing on the dock, just as he said he would be, the option of running away with him ever present. He stood next to his jeep, the engine running, ready to make their get away, but instead she waved him goodbye, filled with mixed emotions as the river water separated them and parted her further from the security of everything she knew.
As the long tail boat made its way noisily along the river, snakes swam on top of the water and I dared to imagine what other creatures were concealed beneath the mucky surface. We passed women bathing themselves, children playing in the muddy slush and groups of women, laughing as they washed their laundry against the pebbles. A glimpse into the real life along the Ayeyarwady.
As we cruised along leisurely taking in the scenery all around us, the temples we had been walking around all day came into view, it was great seeing them from the water in the changing light of the day and catch a glimpse of the famous temples from a different angle.
It was an unplanned highlight of our Burmese journey and I would highly recommend taking a local boat out along the vast Ayeyawady River.
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