I’m hoping not to jinx ourselves by saying this but things seem to come together quite well when “winging it”. Our plan today was to finalize our plans for the next week or two and then do an afternoon tour of two of four cities in the near vicinity of Mandalay and everything fell into place perfectly. I’ll start with our afternoon visit to U-Min-Thone-Sef Pagoda in Sagaing on Sagaing Hill and U Pein Bridge in Amarapura. I’ll quote the descriptions of each from our little brochure and map.
“U-Min-Thone-Sef Pagoda on Sagaing Hill overlooks the back of this mountain. There are steps leading up to the first part of the temple where you can see many Buddha figures aligned forming a magnified image. Above the temple does not offer much more but there are interesting views where you can see a small temple where an old monk lives on a retreat in solitude”
“The three quarters of a mile long U Pein Bridge crossing the Taung-tha-man-In Lake is the longest teak bridge in the world although a bit rickety in some parts. It has withstood the storms and floods of over two centuries”.
Now back to our successful day of trip planning and the route we will follow over the next 3 nights and 4 full days. I’ll update the rest a little later. It all starts with asking front desk hotel employees questions. Who better to ask than a local and they always come through because they have a friend or brother or someone they know who can get you in touch with their friend, brother, sister or uncle and in this case we were hooked up with a beautiful lady named Aye Aye Nwe who runs a small travel agency and is the Managing Director of KN Travels & Tours Co. and has lots of connections. We told her what we wanted and voila, she made it happen. We wanted a private river boat to take us upstream on the Irrawaddy River to Kyaung Myaung. We then wanted to head downstream with stops at Mingun, Ava, Vandabo and with our final destination being Bagan where we want to go up in a hot air balloon at sunrise to view the 100’s of magnificent temples in the area. We wanted to do this slowly over 4 days so we could stop and smell the roses along the way, we wanted a boat to ourselves and we didn’t want to spend a fortune doing it. Check, check, check and check! We have a 64 foot river boat with 4 people looking after all of our meals and needs, 36 cans of Myanmar Lager, a bottle of wine and, we have our Bluetooth speaker and Spotify via 4G on Ooroodo Telecom on our phone so we can laze and listen to tunes or whatever, whenever we want. River cruising at its best and not too bad in my books. We depart tomorrow and will arrive in Bagan the evening of March 1st and we’ll spend 3 nights in Bagan and then head out to further explore this beautiful country.
We spent three nights at the Hotel Yadanarbon Mandalay. Our room and bed was very comfortable, the staff extremely helpful and friendly and the roof top infinity pool, deck and bar was perfect for a late afternoon cool one or two. The downstairs restaurant also offered evening ethnic music, dance and puppet shows.