Mandalay to Bagan by Boat

The "pier" for boarding our Paukan Boat was just a sand bar. With continuously changing water levels, neither Mandalay nor Bagan have "piers" as such. We cast off from Mandalay at 11.00, arriving next day at Bagan at 10.00. There was just one short stop in the late afternoon to see them making pottery at a village.

We had a deluxe upper deck cabin number 307.

The RV Paukan is really a floating boutique hotel, furnished with a unique combination of modern and traditional motifs. The timber-walled cabins are are furnished with colonial style cupboards, dresser and doors. A maximum of 55 passengers are looked after by a 30-member crew and facilities include a viewing sun deck, a bar and lounge and a dining room on the main deck which serves both Eastern and Western cuisine.

We enjoyed our 24 hours on Paukan. Boarding and disembarking was a bit of an adventure, given that the rise and fall of the river over a year precludes permanent jetties. But it was like being transported back in time, to tramp across an expanse of river sand, then enter the boat via a rickety gangplank The boat is very comfortable and the cabins, though small, are perfectly agreeable for the night. There is plenty of public space to relax in during the day, or you can just sit on your bedroom balcony and watch the scenery drift by . I should say that the scenery is "bland" as the river is just winding across a very wide plain. The one criticism I had was that there was only 1 table for two people, the rest were all larger shared tables. A little planning could have yielded up 4 or 5 tables for 2, which would have been much more acceptable to the passengers.

There was one stop at a village where they made pots for water.That was interesting And after dinner we watch the film "The Lady" about the life of Aung San Su Kyi. I enjoyed this, but only about 10% of the passengers watched it. This cruise was a good way to enter Bagan and made a change from road trips across Myanmar. I have no idea how this company compares with other river cruise boat operators, but I happily recommend Paukan

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In the late afternoon, the Paukan stopped at Yandabo, a village specialising in Pot-Making, where the peace treaty of the First Anglo-Burmese war was signed in 1826. The pots they make, and they make them by the thousands, are earthenware pots for holding water, and are a necessity of life in Myanmar.

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Whilst the scenery was bland, the river was enlivened by as constant flow of river traffic, the majority of which were either long tail boats or barges being shepherded by tugs. Along the banks, from time to time, one could see peripatetic lean-tos being used as shelter from the sun by fishermen.

The riverboat moored overnight near the village of Shwe Nann Tint and we were served dinner on the boat.

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Early in the morning, the boat weighed anchor and we went on downriver to Bagan and we got off around 10.30. Again there was no jetty, just a convenient sand bank. Problems with getting the luggage off meant that I decided to get it myself, as the number of porters assigned to the job of unloading was too few. Our guide looked on in bemusement. We replaced him the next day - not because of the baggage problems, but because his guiding of us to the pagodas of Bagan was useless - he took us to the best of the pagodas this day, and failed to convey any information about them to us.


On to Bagan

Burma Holiday