At 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.The 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. Each 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.As tourists were not often visiting we quickly became the centre of attraction whenever we went ashore. Travelling along the river you could never forget you were in Myanmar with temples and stupas along the banks and on the hills. The markets sold everything for living. Many of the tools were clearly locally made and who would not want a watering can like these!I 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.
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