We all really loved this boat trip on the Irrawaddy from just beyond Mandalay up to Mingun, it was one of the highlights of our trip.
Not because there was lots to see along the river banks or on the river itself as the east bank was pretty flat with reed beds and small fisherman huts while the west bank was slightly better as there were some hills on that side set further back but not much happening there either. River traffic was fairly light, mainly some small fishing kayak type boats and the odd slightly bigger vessel, so also not much happening. Nor was it because we had a luxurious boat. It might possibly be luxury by Myanmar standards but it was very simple with 4 deck-chairs set out for us on the 'upper deck' with just a large green plastic awning to protect us from the sun, no other 'luxuries'. Nor was it because we had lots of good food and drink. All we got was some oranges, bananas, peanuts and a flask of hot water for some tea – plus some bottled water.
In fact it was all of that because sometimes the simple life, as long as it is comfortable enough, can be very pleasing. After many days of hectic travel visiting many glorious, but tiring, sights, it was great to be able to just wind down for an hour and a half (half the time coming back because of the current) puttering gently down one of the world's great rivers and looking at the peaceful scene passing by. As it was nearly dark by the time we left Mingun, there was even less to see on the river banks on the return journey but we were compensated by a really wonderful and atmospheric long lasting (as the sun had to go beneath the western hills before 'really' setting) sunset. We couldn't have asked for more.
It also helped that the boat was just for the 4 of us so we didn't have to share the space with other people. And deck-chairs can be fairly comfortable for a time. The two drawbacks were a) getting on and off the boat both near Mandalay and at Mingun. Not the easiest (see my photos) and no good if you have balance problems but OK for most people and we coped plus b) toilets were very rudimentary to say the least but OK if desperate.
Not really worth doing this boat trip if you are in Mandalay only for one day as there is too much else to do but if there for 2 days or more, then this is a really fun thing to do – and you get to see Mingun.
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