Along the Ayerarwady

 

After our morning market visit, we headed back to the Ananda and prepared to sail upriver.

 

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It was going to be a hard day.

 

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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. 

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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No wonder this is tricky navigation business. 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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A man with a stick goes along to check.

 

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We have our own man with a stick too – perhaps they compare notes?

 

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Ananda has a very shallow draught so we continue on our way, passing small communities and enjoying the peace and quiet.

 

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We pass underneath an enormous bridge which could be the Anawrahta Bridge, at Chauk.

 

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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!

 

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Everything seems to take place by the river.  Bathing, washing the clothes, playing about, washing up.

 

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We pass a few small temples too, useful landmarks.

 

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Speaking of which, we have a landmark of our own – it’s lunchtime already!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Next, Timmy shows us how to tie the ladies’ version.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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Going through the door marked “Staff only” we took a quick look at the water purification plant.

 

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We moved swiftly on through the crew quarters

 

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took a quick look in the laundry

 

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peered into what might have been the air conditioning plant…

 

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and with ear protectors firmly in place, went down into the engine room.

 

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The Ananda has pods, just like the ocean going ship we’ll be joining next week.

 

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Tim lifted a hatch so we could see one in action.

 

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From up there on the bridge, we could see we were nearing our mooring for the evening.

 

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The crew were ready and able to jump into action!

 

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As soon as another boat got out of the way, that is.

 

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There was a little welcome party waiting, as well.

 

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Maybe they knew the crew would have a little something for them?

 

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Though we were finished for the day and ready to go and change for dinner, others still had work to do, collecting water.

 

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and carrying it home.  Who knows how far?

 

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Others had things to carry home.

 

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But the world over, there’s nothing like a cool dip at the end of a busy day,  is there?

 

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And a beautiful sunset to round off a fascinating day on the river.

Friday morning adventure

To market