A Travellerspoint blog

A RIDE ON THE CIRCULAR RAILWAY IN YANGON, MYANMAR

THIS ENTRY IS JUMPING AHEAD IN THE STORY OF MY TRIP. I WILL START FROM THE BEGINNING LATER.

FIRST, I WANT TO SHOW YOU WHAT I SAW OF MYANMAR & INTRODUCE YOU TO SOMEONE I MET WHO MIGHT BE OF HELP TO YOU IF YOU WANT TO VISIT MYANMAR. SHE OWNS THE NEW TRAVEL AGENCY, RED IXORA , IN YANGON.
HI SOPHY, IF YOU ARE READING THIS.
YOU WILL SEE HER LATER.

I ARRIVED AT YANGON AIRPORT FROM SIEM REAP.
THE IMMIGRATION GUY WAS THE MOST RELAXED & FRIENDLY OFFICIAL I HAVE EVER COME ACROSS. HE INTRODUCED ME TO THE MAGIC WORD 'MINGALABA' - HELLO OR WELCOME.

I HAD ZERO PROBLEMS GETTING A TAXI.
ON THE WAY TO THE RATHER SWANKY, VERY EXPENSIVE, CHATRIUM HOTEL, I WAS STRUCK BY THE ALMOST TOTAL ABSENCE OF MOTORBIKES & SCOOTERS.
UBIQUITOUS ELSEWHERE IN SOUTH EAST ASIA, THERE ARE ALMOST NONE IN YANGON.
LOTS OF CARS THOUGH, & PEOPLE, PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, MOSTLY WEARING WHAT I WOULD CALL SARONGS BUT HERE ARE CALLED LONGYI , AGAIN, SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT FROM MOST OF S.E ASIA.

I ARRIVED JUST AT SUNSET & THIS IS THE VIEW FROM MY HOTEL ROOM ....

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I THINK THIS ONE BELOW IS THE FAMOUS SHWEDAGON PAGODA, ALSO FROM MY HOTEL ROOM.
I DID NOT GET TO SEE THE PAGODA UP CLOSE THIS TRIP BUT, AS YOU WILL SEE LATER, I SAW PLENTY OF OTHERS.

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.... AND ANOTHER SHOT OF THE POOL.

I GOT UP LATE & ASKED THE CONCIERGE TO HELP ME FIND THE CIRCULAR RAILWAY THAT I HAD READ ABOUT. HE WAS VERY HELPFUL & QUICKLY HAD ME INTO A TAXI TO THE STATION WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO THE DRIVER TO GIVE ME DIRECTIONS TO THE TICKET OFFICE.
I EXPECTED TO BE ABLE TO FIND THAT MYSELF BUT WHAT DO I KNOW?
SEEMS THE TICKET OFFICE IS LOCATED ON THE PLATFORM. PLATFORM 6, OVER THE BRIDGE.
I DOUBT I WOULD HAVE FOUND THAT ON MY OWN.

TAXIS ARE VERY CHEAP IN YANGON BY THE WAY, COMPARED TO CANADA. A TEN MINUTE RIDE WAS ABOUT THREE DOLLARS & AS HE 'DID NOT HAVE CHANGE', HE GOT A TWO DOLLAR TIP.

ON THE WAY TO GET MY TICKET, I BOUGHT MYSELF BREAKFAST OF A COUPLE OF SANDWICHES & A TAMARIND DRINK FOR NEXT TO NOTHING FROM A LITTLE SLIP OF A GIRL AT A BOOTH. THE HOTEL WAS CHARGING A LOT FOR BREAKFAST

I JOINED THE LINE FOR TICKETS & WHEN I TOLD THE GUY IN THE BOOTH THAT I WANTED A TICKET FOR THE CIRCULAR LINE HE TOLD ME TO GO TO THE OFFICE BEHIND HIM.
I ENTERED THE OFFICE WHERE THERE WAS A MAN SEATED AT A TABLE.
THE FIRST GUY THEN CAME IN, TOLD ME TO SIT AND ASKED ME IF I WANTED THE AIR CONDITIONED CIRCULAR TRAIN. ACTUALLY, HE TOLD ME I WANTED THE AIR CONDITIONED TRAIN & I READILY AGREED.
IT WAS A BIT WARM OUT.
I PAID THE 80 CENTS FOR THE TICKET & THE OTHER MAN GAVE ME THE TICKET. THAT'S ALL HE DID. NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT.
THE FIRST MAN TOLD ME WHERE TO WAIT & THAT HE WOULD COME OUT AT 9:30 WHEN THE TRAIN ARRIVED TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO.

SO I WAIT ON THE PLATFORM AND WATCH THE ACTIVITY AROUND ME.

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9:30 & NO TRAIN

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9:40 - & STILL NO TRAIN ... BUT IT'S OK ON THE PLATFORM .. & HAVE YOU NOTICED WHAT LOVELY CLOTHES THE LADIES ARE WEARING? YOU WILL SEE A LOT MORE

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TRAINS ARE COMING & GOING BUT NOT MY AIR CONDITIONED ONE

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LOOK AT THIS LITTLE DARLING BELOW ... BUT 9:50 AND STILL NO TRAIN .

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THE TICKET SELLER COMES OUT TO TELL ANOTHER COUPLE OF TOURISTS THAT OUR TRAIN IS HELD UP & WILL NOT ARRIVE FOR AGES SO WE SHOULD GET ABOARD THIS TRAIN INSTEAD. NO AIR CONDITIONING BUT THEN THERE ARE NO DOORS & NO GLASS IN THE WINDOWS SO WHO NEEDS A/C?

THIS IS OUR ROUTE ..

... .. .

NOT TOO FAR .. ABOUT THREE HOURS

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STILL A BIT OF A WAIT TILL WE LEAVE SO I CHECK OUT MY TRAVEL COMPANIONS .. NOTE THE SIGN ON THE WALL - NO SMOKING, NO LITTERING &, PAY ATTENTION NOW - NO CANOODLING.

WE ARE ON THE MOVE NOW & THESE TWO WATCH US LEAVE YANGON. THIS TRAIN TRAVELS IN A LOOP BACK TO YANGON SO THE BONUS IS I CANNOT GET LOST AS LONG AS I STAY ON THE TRAIN.

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THESE LADIES GOT OFF AT THE FIRST STOP ..

LIKE SUBURBS ANYWHERE, YANGON'S ARE NOT THE PRETTIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN BUT A BIT MORE INTERESTING THAN THE 6:05 FROM LIVERPOOL STREET.

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A SOMEWHAT HAZARDOUS PLACE TO DO SOME LAUNDRY ... AND GRAFFITI IS HERE, AS IT IS THE WORLD OVER.

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MORE SUBURBS & A FEW STOPS, LETTING PASSENGERS OFF & ON ..

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OUT INTO THE COUNTRYSIDE NOW & THE TRAIN IS FILLING UP A BIT. I HAVE MOVED DOWN THE COMPARTMENT TO GET NEAR A DOORWAY. NOTE - A COUPLE OF WESTERN TOURISTS DOWN THE WAY ..

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THIS STATION HAS A LITTLE MORE BUSTLE ABOUT IT ..

AND A FEW PEOPLE GET ON .. MORE THAN A FEW, & THEIR PARCELS OF FARM PRODUCE ..

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YES - IT'S FILLING UP NICELY ... MUST BE A BIT OF ROOM FOR THIS LADY ..

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THE TOURISTS LOOK A BIT GLUM. PERHAPS THEY ARE WONDERING WHEN TEA IS SERVED ..

THIS GUY JUMPED FROM THE TRAIN SO HE CAN'T WAIT AROUND FOR TEA, OR THE STATION EITHER ..

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MORE GLAMOUR BESIDE THE TRACKS

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AND MORE GLAMOUR COMING ON BOARD. WHERE ARE ALL THESE LADIES GOING DRESSED UP LIKE THIS? & NOTE THE GIRLS SITTING DOWN HAVE THANAKA ON THEIR FACES. MORE ABOUT THAT LATER..

A GIRL IN YELLOW - MORE ABOUT THAT LATER TOO ..

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AAHH .. TEA TIME. WELL NOT TEA BUT ALL SORTS OF OTHER FOOD TO BUY. I HAD SOME FRESHLY CUT MELON & SPRAYED JUICE ALL OVER MYSELF. VERY TASTY ..

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SOME PEOPLE WAITING FOR THE TRAIN TO GO BY ..

AND I WASN'T AWARE THIS WAS THE SLEEPER ...

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THESE TWO COULD NOT SQUEEZE INTO MY CARRIAGE & I HOPE THEY MADE IT ON FARTHER BACK.

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HOPEFULLY THIS GIRL IS SWIMMING AND NOT DROWNING ...

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STILL IN DREAMLAND ..

AND THIS LADY HAD BROUGHT SOME FLOWERS ON. SHE PUSHED THEM INTO THE CARRIAGE & I DRAGGED THEM AWAY FROM THE DOOR. I HAD HELPED OTHERS GET THEIR PRODUCE ABOARD & THEY WERE ALWAYS VERY APPRECIATIVE.

ONE ELDERLY LADY TOLD ME TO PASS HER STUFF DOWN TO HER ON THE PLATFORM .. IT WENT THROUGH THE WINDOW.

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TICKET INSPECTORS CAME ON BUT NEVER EVEN GLANCED AT MY TICKET. EVERYONE ELSE EITHER HAD A TICKET OR PAID ON THE TRAIN & THERE WAS A FARE PAID FOR THE BUNDLES OF PRODUCE TOO.
HOW THE KEPT IT STRAIGHT IS A MYSTERY TO ME.

AND A NUN, LOOKING VERY NICE.

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NOW WE KNOW WHERE THOSE TWO LADIES GOT OFF ..

AND THE FLOWER LADY LEFT HER FLOWERS ON THE SIDE OF THE TRACK & WALKED OFF. TO GET SOME HELP I EXPECT. THEY WERE VERY HEAVY.

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COMING INTO YANGON AGAIN .. THE END OF A THREE AND A HALF HOUR JOURNEY. THE BEST FUN I HAVE HAD FOR A LONG TIME. AND I NEVER DID GET A REFUND FOR NOT GETTING THE AIR CONDITIONED TRAIN. THIS TRAIN WAS BETTER ANYWAY AND AT 80 CENTS I THINK THEY CAN KEEP THE REFUND.

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I STOPPED AT THE BOOTH TO GET A DRINK AND WAS STANDING, LOOKING TIRED & SWEATY NO DOUBT WHEN THE LITTLE SALES GIRL GAVE ME A GIFT OF A PACKET OF TISSUES TO WIPE MY BROW. WHAT A SWEET THING TO DO.

TOMORROW, ITS ALL ABOARD PANDAW FOR THE BOAT RIDE TO MANDALAY .. . FIFTEEN DAYS AWAY.

Posted by hasbeen 15:50 Archived in Myanmar Comments (8)

Up the Ayeyarwady, from Yangon to the town of Twanty ..


View 2015 PANDAW - MEKONG, LUANG PRABANG on hasbeen's travel map.

Breakfast at the Chatrium, overlooking the pool, then a fast taxi ride to the pier to board the Pandaw River boat

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This is the only photo I have of us leaving Yangon & I don't think I actually have any photos of the boat but it is very nice.

The lower deck is all cabins. The upper deck has a small deck forward with a few chairs and the 'library' consisting of a small bookcase.

Heading aft, past some cabins & there is a bar & office.

The bar is 'help yourself' mainly.
Local beer, spirits & soft drinks are complimentary.

Further aft there are a few more seats & then the dining area & then a few more seats.
It is all under cover but no walls. Except the cabins of course, that would be a tad risque.

There are twenty two passengers I think. Brits, a Canadian, two Belgians and Australians - some of the Brits live in Kenya though.

Our first Pagoda - on the Yangon river. Not the Ayeyarwady as yet. In fact we may be on a canal & not a river for part of the trip to our first stop - the small town of TWANTY

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Some youngsters hard at work .. Careful with that axe Eugene!

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Someone drowning? Nah! Just friendly ...

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A lady dressing up .

To go shovel some gravel with these people maybe ..

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A working river - & lots of work being done on it.

I was constantly amazed at how hard the people of Myanmar work. Staggering. Men, women, boys & girls - all hard at work.

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Now we are docked at the town of Twantay & I get a chance to take photos of people coming towards our boat, with supplies perhaps ..

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We go ashore for our tour of the town but I soon leave the group to get a haircut from this man. He got a 100% tip of 50 cents for a pretty good haircut.

I lost track of where my group had gone so I just backtracked a little, bought a drink of something & wandered around the small market before getting back on the boat

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I parked myself in a comfy seat and took photos of the local action by the pier.

This young girl drawing water from the river ....

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Then a younger girl ... sister perhaps ..

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Some kids playing nearby ...

While the girl takes her bucket of water away ... looks heavy ..

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and the first girl is back ..

While the kids play on ...

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Looks like that's it for a bit & time for a breather.

I wonder why a Nun is coming aboard ..

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A lady takes over the water drawing duties ..

I think this girl was waiting for our group to come back ..

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There she is again ... lovely smile. It's a strange thing, but Myanmar ladies smile & laugh a lot, until you ask them to pose for a photo when they stop smiling. You will see what I mean as the trip goes on.

It looks like this lady is taking her goldfish for a walk - or, your guess is as good as mine .. & look how she is dressed compared to the Australian lady passenger behind ..

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KIds decide it's time for a swim , while ...

Break over & the girls get back to work ..

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That's it for Twantay. I did not get to see too much of it but it was great just sitting in one place watching life going on.

We are now sailing to another small town, where we will visit an old monastery

Passing more river life on the way ...

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Seems everyone has a camera phone these days ..

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Part two of day one - hit next ..

Posted by hasbeen 09:26 Archived in Myanmar Comments (1)

The delightful village of Pegu

MOVING ON TO THE DELIGHTFUL LITTLE VILLAGE OF PEGU

FIRST LOOK OUT OF THE CABIN BEFORE BREAKFAST - SOMEWHAT FOGGY ..

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BREAKFAST ON THE PANDAW IS VERY RELAXED IF QUITE EARLY. TAKEN ON THE OPEN SIDED DECK, IT IS BUFFET STYLE WITH ALL THE USUAL WESTERN SUSPECTS PLUS LOCAL EATS TOO.

MARIANNE, ONE OF THE PASSENGERS HAS BEEN ON PANDAW BEFORE & IS A GREAT FAVOURITE OF THE CREW. FOR BREAKFAST SHE ASKS FOR 'WHATEVER THE CREW HAD' PLUS HER SECRET STORE OF HER FAVOURITES.

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THE LOCALS ARE UP EARLY TO CHECK US OUT ...

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WE WILL HAVE TO CLIMB THOSE STEPS UP THE BANK TO GET TO THE VILLAGE ...

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PEOPLE COME TO MEET US WHILE WE WAIT FOR EVERYONE TO CLIMB UP. THERE ARE ONLY TWENTY TWO OF US BUT IT CAN STILL TAKE A WHILE. I AM USUALLY ONE OF THE FIRST OFF SO I HAVE TIME TO BE IGNORED BY THE LOCALS WHILE THEY WATCH EVERYONE ELSE ARRIVE.

OUR GUIDE GIVES HIS LITTLE SPEECH ABOUT WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TO SEE, NONE OF WHICH I LISTEN TO AND WE ARE OFF FOR A STROLL AROUND THE VILLAGE ....

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WE MEET A FEW PEOPLE GOING ABOUT THEIR DAILY BUSINESS. WE STOP & THE GUIDE CHATS WITH PEOPLE WHILE WE MAKE LIKE WE UNDERSTAND WHAT HE IS SAYING.

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HERE'S MARIANNE, LOOKING VERY NAUTICAL IN HER BLUE OUTFIT, MAKING FRIENDS ALREADY ...

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WE ENTER A SMALL ENCLOSED SPACE WHERE PEOPLE, MAKE THAT LADIES, ARE BUSY PREPARING FOOD ....

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I CANNOT HELP WONDERING IF THESE LADIES ALWAYS DRESS LIKE THIS OR IF THEY GET DRESSED UP BECAUSE THEY KNOW WE ARE COMING. I EXPECT IT IS THE FIRST.

THEY CERTAINLY LOOK VERY ELEGANT ... & WONDERFUL COLOURS.

BY NOW I HAVE FOUND OUT THAT THE SKIRTS ARE NOT CALLED SARONGS, HERE THEY ARE CALLED LUNGI. A WRAP AROUND THAT IS OFTEN A TUBE THE LADIES STEP INTO.

WE HAD A LUNGI TYING DEMONSTRATION ON BOARD ONE EVENING BUT SINCE THERE ARE NO FEMALE CREW, ONE OF THE WAITERS WAS THE MODEL.
LOOKS LIKE THE SECRET TO KEEPING THEM FROM FROM FALLING DOWN IS TO ADD TENSION BY SUCKING IN YOUR GUT BEFORE TUCKING THEM IN.

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A NICE SHOT OF SOME ONIONS ...

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LEAVING THE LADIES & THEIR COOKING WE CONTINUE ON OUR STROLL ..

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.... THE KIDS FOLLOWING OF COURSE .. BUT THEY STILL HAVE WORK TO DO ..

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MINGALABA TO YOU TOO, LITTLE GIRL ...

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MANY PROUD MOTHERS WITH THEIR CHILDREN ...

AND HERE IS BARBARA FROM THE USA. ONE OF ONLY THREE AMERICANS AMONG THE PASSENGERS, AND TWO OF THEM LIVE IN ITALY.

BARBARA IS AN AVID PHOTOGRAPHER & WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME CHECKING EACH OTHERS PHOTOS.

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LOTS OF PRODUCE LAID OUT OT DRY IN THE SUN - PEPPERS HERE ..

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A PHOTO OP, WITH MARIANNE ON THE RIGHT ...

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I THOUGHT THAT WAS A BLONDE HAIRED KIDDY BUT WAS TOLD LATER IT WAS A WIG

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THIS LADY HAS HER BABY IN A SWING ..

& THAT'S ALL OF MY PHOTOS FROM HERE AS MY MEMORY CARD WAS FULL. IT IS EASY TO TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS IN A PLACE LIKE THIS.

I REALLY LIKED IT HERE. VERY PLEASANT, VERY NATURAL. LOCAL FOLK WERE EXTREMELY WELCOMING. NO SELLING US ANYTHING. IN FACT ONE LADY GAVE ME A BOTTLE OF WATER.

I MA NOT SURE OF SOPHY AT RED IXORA HAS THIS VILLAGE ON ANY OF HER TOURS BUT YOU COULD ASK HER TO ARRANGE A VISIT & SEE IF SHE CAN OBLIGE.

Posted by hasbeen 09:40 Archived in Myanmar Comments (1)

Onwards from Twanty to the Town of Danyubu

MOVING ON NORTHWARD, I THINK WE ARE NOW ON THE AYEYARWADY RIVER or IRAWADDY AS IT WAS KNOWN PREVIOUSLY.

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Here's the group, loaded into limousines for the ride to an old monastery ... No expense spared ..

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Arriving at the monastery entrance, it's shoe removal time while we wait for the guide to explain what we are about to see. I did not listen. i never listen.

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The village kids must have heard of our arrival & start to accumulate.

Here we pop into a classroom where a monk explains something but I did not listen. You can just make out a boy on the floor by the desk.

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The guide carries on chatting to the group while I wait outside .. this is the school from the outside ..

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More & more kids ..

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This could be the worlds largest fruit, the Jackfruit - or not.

Lovely old buildings in the grounds ..

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Monks laundry ..

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Now you will be able to see what I mean about the smiling females of Myanmar. This little cutie is showing her lovely smile when the camera is not pointing at her ...

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... and now she stops smiling ..

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all the group were inside the building listening to the guide. I sat on the bench outside with the kids. They are fascinated with the camera & I took a lot more photos here than I am showing.

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The group came out of the building & Penny was so enamoured of the scene of me surrounded by all these children on the bench that she insisted I give her my camera to take a photo us. I don't know what she did but the was no image on the camera.

Here's mum to several of the kids ..

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We move on through the complex & the kids decide to pose for their super-model pictures

But - No smile ..

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And - No smile ..

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A hint of a smile, just coming, maybe.

They were a great bunch of kids. Not trying to sell us anything. Just there all the time.

Curious about us I think.

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Here is the lady cooking for the monks who we could hear chanting but saw very few.

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and here is where the monks live ... with just a glimpse of one.

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Back on the limousines for the ride back to town ...

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This is a pretty little town. Somewhat more affluent than the last we visited.

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... of course - a bit of shopping in the local market ... .

I tried to buy one banana from a lady there. My smallest Kyat note was the equivalent of about a dollar & I offered this. Of course she could not change it and wanted to sell me a bunch of bananas & I still would have got change. I persisted about only wanting one banana but she insisted I take two & put them in a small bag for me - NO CHARGE.

Very nice of her but she got the dollar anyway. Lovely lady.

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A pleasant end to a fine day on the Ayeyarwady.

If anyone is interested in a boat ride like this I think Sophy at RED IXORA has one she can offer.

Posted by hasbeen 09:30 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

The Buddhas at Akuak Taung

LOOKS LIKE A NICE DAY FOR A SAIL ALONG THE AYEYARWADY ...

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The scenery has changed.

Much drier.

Sand bars to be avoided.

I knew the Ayeyarwady was a very long river but never thought it would be this wide. I expected it to be narrow & have jungle clad banks.

Not even close ..

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Some pots being shipped on the river ... Very much a working river ...

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Bath time ..

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Crops or just greenery on the roof ... ?

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I hope we don't have to climb those stairs .. but the man does not seem to have a problem ..

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The ships crew being presented to us. A lot for just a few passengers.

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I was surprised how few birds are to be seen ...

and three guesses what these people are doing ...

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Ah - you guessed. Panning for gold of course. Why didn't I think of that.

..... but this boat is sucking up gravel for construction ...

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People going ashore to a pilgrimage site ... where there a hundreds, if not thousands of Buddha images.

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I have now idea what the pilgrims see on shore but it is quite impressive from the boat .. as you can see ...

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People like taking photos of us as much as we like taking theirs.

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Gravel workers here, taking it easy for once - more about them later .

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These ladies are doing there laundry & baby washing on bamboo rafts ...

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She is definitely not dressed up for the tourists ...

The river retreats so far from towns in the dry season that people build temporary abodes by the river to save the long trek back & forth.

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I would love to see the Ayeyarwady when it has a lot more water in it.

Maybe Sophy at RED IXORA can find me a tour.

Posted by hasbeen 09:43 Archived in Myanmar Comments (2)

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