Click on title to view photo in large format: View from U Min Thonze Cave Pagoda over Sagaing Hill, located on the opposite side of the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay, Myanmar. Only a handful of monasteries and pagodas existed when this area was the capital of Sagaing Kingdom, from 1315 to 1364. Today Sagaing Hill is part of Mandalay, and the entire area is covered in nunneries, monasteries, and pagodas. As the area developed Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: Weirawsana Jade Pagoda near Mandalay, Myanmar, is covered in jade worth $15 million. Inside the pagoda, jade Buddha statues occupy niches facing the four cardinal directions. The government of Myanmar represents it as the largest jade pagoda in the world, and the only one in the world built entirely of the precious stone. The 75-foot high structure was begun in 2012 and only recently completed. Funds for Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: Bridal couple celebrate their wedding day with a visit to Kuthodaw Complex in Mandalay, Myanmar. This famous site is often described as containing the largest book in the world. After my first circuit of the site, I was mystified. I saw absolutely no evidence of a giant book. Further inquiry solved the mystery. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: In Mandalay, Myanmar, sun sets behind U Bein Bridge, which bisects Taungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest and oldest teak bridge in the world. The bridge was completed in 1851, using teak wood reclaimed from a former royal palace. Not only is the bridge popular with tourists, it is in constant use by locals who save a great deal of transit time by being able to walk across the lake rather than go around it. Unfortunately, many of the 1,086 pillars that support the bridge have begun to Read More
During monsoon season, sailing the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar is easy, as the river is high and wide. In the dry season, however, the river shrinks and sailing becomes much more difficult. The captain on my Viking River Mandalay Explorer cruise explained that the portion of the river between Mandalay and Bagan is the shallowest, and that it is not uncommon for the boat to scrape bottom. As long we were moving slowly, he assured us there was no reason for concern, however we were advised to hold onto railings when climbing stairs or walking the deck. Indeed, we bumped bottom or scraped submerged rocks several times without causing damage to the boat.
To lessen the potential for damage and ensure safety of the crew and passengers, the depth is monitored continuously when sailing shallow stretches of the Irrawaddy River. Crew members thrust long bamboo poles into the water on both sides of the ship’s bow, calling out Read More