Along the Ayerarwady
After our morning market visit, we headed back to the Ananda and prepared to sail upriver.
It was going to be a hard day.
Well, not for us, perhaps, but for the people working along the river, there was indeed plenty to do, like moving some grass, for example.
There didn’t seem to be much growing on these sandy riverbanks and yet there was a lot to move – and a fair few people to move with it. Everyone was involved!
The river is really wide here and both sides are broad sandy flats. There are a few people here and there in simple shelters, but we can’t work out if these are permanent homes or mere temporary shelters.
Sometimes, there’s a bit of vegetation holding the sand together, though we notice that whenever the water laps up to the shore, a bit of the bank disappears.
No wonder this is tricky navigation business.
We have a government pilot on board, our captain is well versed in the way of the river and there are two more officers on the bridge, working from a radar, a sonar depth meter and equipped with binoculars.
A little further along, we come across this ship which has run aground. The crew call over to ours and information is shared about the location of the deeper water.
A man with a stick goes along to check.
We have our own man with a stick too – perhaps they compare notes?
Ananda has a very shallow draught so we continue on our way, passing small communities and enjoying the peace and quiet.
We pass underneath an enormous bridge which could be the Anawrahta Bridge, at Chauk.
I am interested to see what people are doing as we pass them by. I’m trying to catch up on my journal as we go but every so often, I grab my camera and leap up to take a picture. Others are lounging about, reading or simply sitting snoozing whereas I am up and down like a yoyo!
Everything seems to take place by the river. Bathing, washing the clothes, playing about, washing up.
We pass a few small temples too, useful landmarks.
Speaking of which, we have a landmark of our own – it’s lunchtime already!
After lunch, Aung talked a little about the longyi, the traditional dress of Myanmar. We’ve each been given one as a gift and now was the time to find out how to wear it.
The gentlemen here look very elegant dressed in the traditional way, though we find it amusing how they untie it from time to time and waft it about a bit in the air before retying – they remain perfectly modest, because it’s stitched together without a gap.
Next, Timmy shows us how to tie the ladies’ version.
Rather than being made into a simple, straight tube of fabric, the ladies’ longyi has a couple of darts to emphasise her figure. Timmy looked really lovely in hers but I can’t say the same for the rest of us lumpy western women!
She also did a demonstration of the thanaka paste and painted our faces in different styles. It felt cool at first but as it dried, felt more like an old fashioned clay face mask!
Time for a snooze? Well, possibly, but Tim had offered to show us behind the scenes and we were just too curious to refuse the invitation.
Going through the door marked “Staff only” we took a quick look at the water purification plant.
We moved swiftly on through the crew quarters
took a quick look in the laundry
peered into what might have been the air conditioning plant…
and with ear protectors firmly in place, went down into the engine room.
The Ananda has pods, just like the ocean going ship we’ll be joining next week.
Tim lifted a hatch so we could see one in action.
From up there on the bridge, we could see we were nearing our mooring for the evening.
The crew were ready and able to jump into action!
As soon as another boat got out of the way, that is.
There was a little welcome party waiting, as well.
Maybe they knew the crew would have a little something for them?
Though we were finished for the day and ready to go and change for dinner, others still had work to do, collecting water.
and carrying it home. Who knows how far?
Others had things to carry home.
But the world over, there’s nothing like a cool dip at the end of a busy day, is there?
And a beautiful sunset to round off a fascinating day on the river.