Monday, 6 May 2013

Cruising the Ayeyarwady

Myanmar (Burma), Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy), Mandalay, Bagan, Yangon (Rangoon) - the list of exotic names goes on and on. And after years of dreaming suddenly I was on board the 'Road to Mandalay' (take a look here) to bathe in the luxury of a cruise along this famous river. I boarded in Bagan - very late one evening - oh the joys of 'irregular' airline scheduling - Myanmar 'time'. One of the great things about this boat is that there are 4 single cabins (with NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT). Yes my cabin was small (my friend who had cruised late last year described it as the size of a cupboard - not my choice of words) but it had everything that I could wish for including a comfy bed! And there's nothing quite like a touch of Bvlgari shampoo and body lotion or French Champagne awaiting in the ice bucket to have an immediate impact on a weary traveller. 
River life outside the cabin window (complete with bugs on it - outside!)
I had been warned that the River was low meaning we could not cruise as far as Mandalay. Still it had been my choice to come in March so although disappointing - nature as always - had the last say. The cruise was interesting but I had expected to see more of 'life on the waters-edge' and pagodas and stupas lining the shores. 
Hung out to dry - the laundromat
After all when cruising the Nile there is much activity both on and off the water and magnificent temples to be seen. 
A rare sight - a temple in the distance
The combination of the low water level of the river and the fact that it is prone to flooding means that temporary sites are set up as needs be (rather like a day-at-the-beach).
A temporary 'village' on the river flats
For those who didn't want to just 'loll about' on the upper deck and watch the world go by, or roast their bodies (all shapes and sizes) beside the swimming pool, or drink the local gin, beer or French Champagne, we had the opportunity to learn to cook while cruising along. Well put it this way - we watched our Chef prepare and tasted the results. Myanmar salad and a prawn curry (might try this at home one year!) - both delicious.
Chilli, fish sauce, garlic, garlic and more garlic!
And then of course each night after a choice from the European or Myanmar menu, we could attend a lecture, watch locals making silver jewellery or weaving or even just pop up on deck and marvel as the sun went down.
As the sun sets ...
And then one evening the crew had a special surprise for those who waited up till nightfall around 9.30 p.m. (not everyone!) Thousands - and I mean thousands - of candles floated silently down the river towards us. Tightly packed and taking up the entire expanse of the river it was an awe-inspiring sight. It was such a moving experience that my camera 'blew up'! The silence on board was amazing. So you will just have to imagine it. It was one of those unforgetable moments in time. The piece de resistance! And I missed recording it! (I am waiting hopefully for copies from friends. I will post if they come to hand). 

So until next time when we'll 'get off the boat' and explore the shore!

No comments:

Post a Comment