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

An unexpected formal garden

16_12_05_4421We have been travelling in Myanmar and a little bit of Thailand. When we left home I thought there would be plenty of interesting gardens to photograph and write about. How wrong was that! In the part of Myanmar we were in, for most of the trip, the ground around the houses is flooded each rainy season and as such was not kept as a garden. Further more as the house owners were frequently farmers there was no requirement for vegetables etc around their houses and the ground around the house was often used for pigs and chickens etc.

In Thailand  we were travelling along a rather obscure route from Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya when I spotted a very tall Buddha  in the distance. Our guide had no idea what it was so we had to investigate.

Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trai Lokanat Gandhara Anusorn

16_12_05_4428Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trai Lokanat Gandhara Anusorn, is the largest and most beautiful standing bronze Buddha image in Thailand. It consists of a 32 meter high bronze statue standing on an 8 meter high base. The statue was cast in 2014 under Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand. 16_12_05_4422The standing Buddha is surrounded by a very large landscaped park, at Wat Thipsukhontharam, Don Salaep subdistrict, Huai Krachao District, Kanchanaburi Province. The modern temple also has an excellent exhibition concerning history of Buddhism, life of the Buddha and information on the casting of Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trai Lokanat Gandhara Anusorn.

The whole park and setting are outstanding and the following pictures should explain why we spent a couple of unexpected hours here.16_12_05_442416_12_05_441816_12_05_4426


Some amazing topiary


Clever use of bricks to create an interesting path



Classic temple guardian



Keeping the whole park immaculate



This is part of the less formal area. (5 on the map above). The pathways here are lined with rough cut blocks of stone with Buddhist history.


An interesting bridge with upright metal rods forming the fence on either side


Looking back to the Buddha statue from the bridge with some of the Buddhist history blocks of stone

As you can see an exceptional park around an amazing bronze Buddha. When you consider it was only opened two years ago the planting was looking great. Oddly enough there is very little about this park on the internet and none of the tourist guides seem to mention it. We were there on a national holiday and there were very few people there.  If you are travelling in this part of the world then make a visit, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Glebe House Garden

Three weeks holiday and the garden is not in too much mess. There had been some very cold weather, while we were away, which has finished off most of the herbaceous plants and the final leaf drop has happened. Yet-lag and dull weather have meant only 4 hours in the garden this week. A quick lawn cut to pick up the leaves and some cutting back of the herbaceous borders.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
4 460 18