A trip up the River Chindwin, Myanmar

the-chindwin-7-nightsAt the end of last year we had a long holiday travelling in Myanmar and Thailand. Part of this trip involved travelling by boat up the Chindwin River from Monywa to Homalin which is very close to the Indian border. In order to get as far as Homalin you need to travel during or just after the rainy season. We went in November and by December the water level would have dropped too far for the boat to get up the river. The boat takes you to places that are very remote and away from the normal tourist trail.

With little change in Glebe House Garden this week I thought I would share with you some images from the trip.

Buddha images are everywhere in Myanmar. These ones are in the Moe Hnyin Than Boaddhai Temple which has over five thousand Buddha statues. In fact the walls are lined with little images.

Nearby are the longest (over 100m) reclining and the tallest (125m) standing Buddha in Myanmar.16_11_20_3732The Chindwin River and the boats we traveled on. On this particular trip there were two boats, the nearer one with 8 guests and the further one with 16 guests. The river floods every rainy season (April to October) but even in November the water level had dropped significantly as you can see along the banks.

We were travelling in very rural areas of Myanmar and almost all the women used Thanaka cream. The cream is made from the bark of Thanaka trees which are often being sold in the markets. The bark is then ground into a paste and applied. It has a fragrant scent somewhat similar to sandalwood. The creamy paste is applied to the face in attractive designs, the most common form being a circular patch on each cheek, nose, sometimes made stripey with the fingers known as thanaka bè gya, or patterned in the shape of a leaf, often also highlighting the bridge of the nose with it at the same time. Apart from cosmetic beauty, thanaka also gives a cooling sensation and provides protection from sunburn. It is believed to help remove acne and promote smooth skin.

Many of the villages we visited had their own markets. For me the markets always provide a huge interest as you can see the range and quality of the vegetables and fruit that is being sold. Visiting at the end of that rainy season the range of produce was very different from when we were last here during February.

The river is very important to the local people and provides the main transport for moving produce and people and for everyday living.

The rainy season flood provides new river banks each year that are immediately planted up with crops by the farmers. The crop is often Pigeon peas, both a food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and a forage/cover crop. In combination with cereals, Pigeon peas make a well-balanced human food. 16_11_25_3981Each village has its own school which we would visit. The schools are often basic but it appears that all the children attend school and many have extra tuition after school hours.16_11_22_3866As tourists were not often visiting we quickly became the centre of attraction whenever we went ashore. 16_11_23_3889Travelling along the river you could never forget you were in Myanmar with temples and stupas along the banks and on the hills.  16_11_26_402416_11_26_4022The markets sold everything for living. Many of the tools were clearly locally made and who would not want a watering can like these!16_11_24_3921I would recommend this trip to anyone who wants to see a bit more of Myanmar than the classic tourist route. The company who run the boats are Pandaw.

Glebe House Garden

The weather this week has not been good for gardening. There is still plenty of tiding to do ready for spring which hopefully will start appearing soon.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
8 530 17

14 thoughts on “A trip up the River Chindwin, Myanmar

  1. It looks a wonderful place to see. I always love the markets wherever I go, I never tire of seeing the local produce. Usually the quality is so much better than in, day, a U.K. supermarket. Did you have some wonderful food?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the insight into a seldom seen part of Mynmar. One of my grand-sons was recently there but more in the mountains with lots of trekking. A friend was a sponser to a Burmese family who were refugees and came to NZ. Lovely family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for visiting my blog – we were going to visit Myanmar last Autumn but then decided to opt for Ethiopia instead. Sadly it was cancelled as we were finalising our packing. Having now seen your wonderful images I am beginning to wish that we had stuck to our original plan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Steve.
    Enjoyed reading about and seeing the pictures of the Chindwin. We’re heading there with Pandaw later this year.
    How many schools did you visit? And is there a chance to buy supplies for the schools in the local markets?


    • Hi Wendy. We did visit several schools and Pandaw arranged for us to visit a shop selling books etc. It was not a good idea as they ended up with the too much of the same stuff. On another trip up the Mekong they collected money and Pandaw brought stuff that was really needed. On a recent trip to Laos we gave the hotel money and they arranged for new desks etc in a school we had visited with them. Have a good trip. If you have not been with Pandaw before you will find they are great trips.


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