Excerpt from The Road To Mandalay….
That will be the Moulmein Pagoda from where I watched the sunset the other day. Also the Flotilla (Irrawaddy Flotilla Company) now resurrected as Pandaw. Kipling got his rivers confused as it was not the Irrawaddy that he was gazing out on, and he never actually made it to Mandalay. That’s poetic licence for you !! Great poem though ! Must read the whole thing one day !!
Left Hpa-an bright (well maybe not that bright !!) and early for a 4 hour drive to Bago which was the formal capital of the Mon kingdom, around the 15th century, when its trade links with Sri Lanka and India, filled its coffers with gold, silk, spices and slaves. Needless to say this meant that they could build an impressive array of oversized Buddhas, pagodas, monasteries, stupas and the like.
These girls weren’t going to let me escape without a group photo ! One of the issues of being a “giant” in a land of small perfectly formed people !!
Massive seated and relining Buddhas all claiming to be the largest of their kind in Myanmar if not the World ! Not to mention his very large feet !!
Then a 3 hour drive to Yangon for an overnight in the Sule Shangri-La Hotel before boarding the RV Kanee Pandaw for the two week trip up the Irrawaddy.
Yangon and Sule Pagoda
RV Kanee Pandaw
The latest addition to their fleet, and its maiden voyage, so am prepared for Pandaw adventures – planned and otherwise !!
I had forgotten the pleasures of Pandaw, which (after the Mekong cruise, in February, through Cambodia & Vietnam) is why I am here !! Very comfortable and civilised. Only 23 passengers including about 10 US, 10 Aussies & Kiwis and a few token Brits (all Pandaw fans !). A few solo travellers like myself. Clearly some who haven’t done their homework and seem surprised by the climate – (yes it’s hot and humid, but it’s the tropics for Gods sake !) Even though the Burmese refer to this time of year as the “cold season”. As with all things Pandaw (who are excellent in all respects) anybody expecting a Viking style, or bigger/worse, cruising experience, should either get over it, or disembark now !! An introduction to our Crew and we are off !!
Headed out of Yangon along the Twante Canal which links the Yangon River to the Irrawaddy though its all part of the same Irrawaddy Delta. We get to the Irrawaddy itself sometime later this afternoon (Tuesday I Think !!). Keeping track of time and date here is tricky as they have 8 days a week including 2 Wednesdays! You work it out…………… A couple of village/market excursions so far (Twante & Maubin). Always a good way to get to know, the locals and experience their way of life…..