The boat from Mandalay is leaving prompt at 7 am and that’s on schedule! The boarding starts before 6.30. This season there are two fast ferries going to Bagan. This one is called Shwe Keinnery, build in China 17 years ago. That was before the Chinese upheavel isn’t it? With your ticket comes a reserved seat, one of the 90 inside, so you don’t have to fight for it. Not so on the sun deck, where the 15 easy chairs are quickly taken by a French travel group. They seems to know the rules, at least their guide does. The windows are big and good for the view and there is a little restaurant with simply meals and lots of black coffee. In the first hour down the river the starboard side has the best view passing the ford and pagoda’s of Sagaing, but it is out of the sun and cold so early in the morning. People are wearing jackets. The left side is nice and warm.
It is beautiful saling in the dawn when there is bit of fog around the pagoda’s. The coast of the Irrawaddy reminds me of a cruise on the Nile that Hillie and I once took from Abusimbel. But here are more pagoda’s, haha, and on the Nile are much more palm trees. The ship is not sailing in a strait line in the middle of the river as I expected, but is lingering her way between the invissible sandbanks. I take a look at the bridge, where I can see the best man steering without the use of GPS or map. Knowing a bit about sailing I’m amazed about this. After three hours the ships bends her bow to the riverbank where is a little village but no jetty. Just put the bow to the shore. A man with a red nylon bag comes aboard walking over a narrow shelf. Alongside women of the village expecting us are standing in the water, shouting and throwing banana’s up to the passengers on the high ship. Money is thrown back in the water. Amazing. After a short while we go again. At the shore I see fishermen working, cows drinking from the river and women washing cloths and themselves. We pass by some cargo ships, but not many. I see my first Burman eagle.
At noon the crew is walking around taking your order for lunch. Rice or noodles. I just had my cheroot finished and wasn’t hungry. We pass the Malika 2, the ferry from Bagan. After the new bridge a long blow of the horn and the captain lays his ship again aside the shore with no landing place for the ship. He keeps her on place with the propeller. The man with the red nylon bag now steps off of the ship. Maybe he is a postman I guess. This time no village and no banana’s. Off we go again enjoying the green landscape. After 14.00 it’s getting hot inside, almost no one of the ninety passengers here, hardly any blowing fresh air and outside the seats are taken.
So I am glad when this very beautiful trip ends at 16.30 in Nyaung U. Taxi’s enough. A nice cold mercedes benz brings me to hotel Flower Breeze in New Bagan which is a half an hour drive passing along 1000 years old pagoda’s. I came for them in the first place. Ready for a bottle of Myanmar beer at last. I could have taken one on the boat but I wanted to save that pleasure for the evening.