Mandalay, Ubehn bridge & Irrawaddy river cruise – Myanmar


Well, Kipling’s Poem begins with the line “On the road to Mandalay” and that’s how this leg of our journey began.


After a couple of hours on the bus we had a refreshment stop.

It’s fun when I’m travelling and I see things that remind me of my youth in Manchester.

It’s almost certainly illegal now, but when I was about 10 it was quite common to see pieces of broken bottle cemented onto the top of the wall to stop burglars/vandals.

On the wall surrounding our stop, they obviously still do.


We arrived quite late in our hotel, were able to have a candle lit dinner.

Well of course we did, the electricity had gone off, the the kitchen staff were cooking with lanterns and torches.


In the morning, were up really early to see the famous U Bein bridge.

With just a series of wooden uprights, planted into mud, I was amazed at how stable it was.


The bridge just as the sun was rising.

This was also important, as this isn’t just a tourist attraction, tens of thousands of people use this bridge every day to go to work, visit friends, collect groceries and suchlike.


The other incredible thing about it, is its length.

At 1.2 kilometres, its the longest teak-wood bridge in the world.


After some breakfast, we head out to board our boat.

It was exciting walking along a thin plank, and I couldn’t see a health and safety officer anywhere around.


Our boat was very comfortable, with a shaded seating area on the top to relax and a dining area bellow.

We set off, and after an hour or 2, we arrived on the other side of the river to visit Saggaing Hill.


We were driving up the hill, in this minibus.

As we passed a small market, I asked if we could stop, and I was able to get some cooking equipment at a very competitive price.


From here, we visited the Mya Sekkya Monastery.

We were allowed to go inside, but the monks were having their lunch, so I just took a picture from outside the door.

Later we were shown around their library. It had lots of interesting books (but then most books are interesting to me !).

Especially interesting was the magazine section which featured several copies of Private Eye (but sadly, no copies of Viz).


After a busy morning we head back to the boat for lunch and a few cold beers.

As we eat, our boat heads for Mingun.


No minibus when we arrive this time, transport is a bit more basic (but with entrepreneurial flair).


Skirts are worn in Burma by both men and women.

Kay takes us to a shop where we can buy them, and while there, shows us the different styles with which they can be worn.


Still more stuff to see, the Mingun Bell.

It’s the largest functioning bell in the world. It’s the 2nd largest bell by size and weight after the Tsar Bell I saw in the Kremlin.

You could actually climb underneath and stand inside it (I wouldn’t want to do that while it was being rung !).


Shinphyume pagoda modelled on the sacred Buddhist mount Meru.

The 7 levels, represent the 7 sacred mountain ranges.


Mingun Pahtodawgyi

An unfinished pagoda. More of a tourist attraction now, listed in the Guinness book of records as the largest “brick pile” in the world.

The earthquake of 1839 caused huge cracks in the building. Although there is a walkway to the top it’s not recommended.


The huge stone “Elephant” statue.


And with that, our adventure is over.

As we sailed back, everyone had an afternoon nap.

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