The road to Mandalay: Reflections on a remarkable journey

ABOARD KINDAT PANDAW-Myanmar (formerly Burma) may not be at the top of the list for the occasional or less adventurous traveler. But for those seeking a traditional society and culture not yet overwhelmed by modernization, it’s got to be on a pretty short list of destinations. We think it noteworthy that all passengers aboard our Kindat Pandaw cruise were well-traveled. Most, if not all our fellow passengers have traveled to more places than we have, though we …

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The road to Mandalay: Nwe Nyein and Mingun

ABOARD KINDAT PANDAW-Somewhere north of Mandalay along the banks of the Ayeyarwady, we cast-off our moorings by 6:00 AM for the three-hour up-river cruise to Nwe Nyein, a village known for its pottery—in this case very large glazed pots. As we arrive we pass under a modern highway bridge and realize that this village is not as isolated as Yandabo. Once ashore we notice electric power lines, even a paved street. And the pottery making–while still family …

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The road to Mandalay: Sagaing

ABOARD KINDAT PANDAW-Sagaing Hill rises above the Ayeyarwady downstream of Mandalay on the opposite bank. We are moored at the base of the hill. Our usual breakfast includes a buffet of fruit, juice, yogurt, pastry and dry cereal. Today it also included a popular local noodle soup dish with egg. As always, a cooked breakfast of eggs plus accompaniments can be ordered. Needless to say we were more than fortified for our 8:30 AM excursion. We climb …

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The Road to Mandalay: Inwa, Mandalay City and the Festival of Light – 7

ABOARD RV KINDAT PANDAW – Inwa, like Bagan and Mandalay, and now Yangon, is a former capital city. It seems that country’s kings had a habit of building new ones, so the decision of the country’s former military government to build a new capital city at Naypyitaw, continues a long tradition. When we disembarked in Inwa (called Ava during colonial times) around 8:30 a.m. we promptly boarded horse carts — our fifth mode of transportation so far …

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The Road to Mandalay: Yandabo, peaceful if not prosperous – 6

ABOARD RV KINDAT PANDAW – Yesterday evening we enjoyed watching the crew moor our vessel to the riverbank. As we slowly edged toward the bank, depth was sounded employing a long, marked stick. A couple of crew members jumped ashore and drove a stake into the damp soil securing the mooring line to the stake. Then they secured that stake with additional stakes and lines so that any tension on the main mooring line would pull the …

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The Road to Mandalay: Experiencing the generosity of Myanmar’s people – 5

ABOARD RV KINDAT PANDAW – Perfectly timed to coincide with the hot-air balloon launch, we cast-off from Bagan just at sunrise. It made for a memorable vision, but caused a small pang of regret that we hadn’t managed to go up in one ourselves. The unfolding day promised a more relaxing schedule with a single 2.5 hour excursion to the bustling town of Pakokku, this time by tuk tuk. Kindat Pandaw nosed into the bank at Pakokku …

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The Road to Mandalay: Exploring the monuments of Bagan – 4

ABOARD RV KINDAT PANDAW – From the 11th to the 13th centuries, when Europe was building Gothic cathedrals, Bagan, capital of the first Burmese Empire was frenetically constructing thousands of temples and pagodas. These Buddhist monuments also were beautiful architectural masterpieces. Eventually the empire fell, and a city that may have reached a population of 200,000 or more, faded away. But over 2,000 of those monuments remain as testimony to the power, wealth, and piety of earlier …

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The Road to Mandalay – 1

“Come you back to Mandalay, Where the Old Flotilla lay; Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay, On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin’-fishes play, An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!” –Rudyard Kipling Just the title of Kipling’s haunting, romantic poem always stirred our sense of adventure. So, when we had the chance to travel that “road,” we made the quickest travel decision ever–we didn’t have to …

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