Inwa (Ava) Old Burma CapitalInwa or Innwa the old capital of Burma, had been the capital on and off for 350 years. When flattened by a series of earthquakes in 1839 it was finally abandoned, moved to Amarapura, and renamed Mandalay.
Our taxi driver Ko Swe Myint drops us off at the river and we wait for the little river boat to take us across. Locals, monks, produce, motor bikes and us. Its out with our cameras, the Panasonic G85 and my iPhone 7 are perfect, and we have the Mavic Pro Drone in the backpack for later.
On the other side of the river, 5 minutes by boat, we are met with another world. Sellers and horse carts crowd us, and the road is rutted and dusty. The locals choose a horse and cart for us the driver smiles and we are in. We hand over 10,000 kyat ($7 usd) and a local seller called Su is smiling at us through the selling girls.
‘You choose me … I show you, you buy my bell, look, nice bell’. When we look back from the horse and cart Su is following along behind us on her bicycle. At each stop she is waiting to show us the places we visit and the ever present bell is presented to us.‘Good bell, nice sound, listen.’
We ride rutted roads passed by the do-it-yourself tractor truck with the exposed engines clacking, and the cows chewing by the roadside. It is a million miles away from Mandalay.
The old Yadana Hsimi Pagoda flattened by the earthquakes in 1839 still has the large Buddha statue roofless and floorless sitting waiting.
Yadana Hsimi Pagodas are a group of small brick buildings with the buddhas still there sitting in the open air ruins. They stand waiting for us to see them with an air of lost times and an air of resolve. The cow out the front is tethered in a timeless scene and Su is standing there with the bell tinkling it as we get off the cart. ‘Look, nice bell’.
Su is still following, and telling us in her broken english the history as she knows it. She and her family have been here for generations through it all.
Of course we buy the bell, and she is right, it has a perfect sound, and she gives us a small beaded bracelet as a gift. ‘Thank you, I eat tonight’.
The bike is turned quickly and she is off down the road to her friends. She is lovely and I commend her for her lipstick and her sunblock leaf pattern and her lovely yellow embroidered top. ‘Thank you’ she smiles. I feel like a messy tourist woman with shorts and tshirt and crazy grey hair. We laugh about it together.
We are at Bagaya Monastery next. Built in 1834, with huge teak posts (267 of them) supporting the place, the largest post is 9′ round and 60′ high. It’s still used and runs a childrens school as well, but not today. We see books and desks abandoned. It is too hot, even inside in the shade.
Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery is built of brick, in the style of the old teak buildings of the same period, about 1818.
The stone carvings are carved to look the same and have weathered well because of the material used.
We used our Mandalay Archaeological Zone pass to get in, or alternatively the price is $10 USD.
Riding the horse and cart through the banana fields we come to an impasse. The road is deep ruts and we are lucky its not wet. So does the bullock cart ahead blocking our path go first? Or us? They win, and timeless large brahmin bullocks are driven past us back into the distance at their slow pace. It’s afternoon and the work is done.
The old Ava Palace at Inwa is gone, some taken down for the teak and moved to Mandalay, some just gone. Ava Palace Tower is the only bit remaining of the large Palace. 27m high and leaning a bit from an 1838 earthquake..
It can be climbed but is roped off to let you know its not that safe.
The only other remaining bit was the Royal Pools for the Princesses near the Old Palace site. Huge old brick pools with big steps guarding them.
We get to them via horse and cart through the paddocks and even though they are filled with grass and weeds now, in the rainy season they are full of water. Our cart driver tells is in Burmese how he loves his horse and even though we have no idea what he is saying we can see the warm relationship the two of them have. And then we are off, piled back into the cart to get back to the river in time for the boat.
Returning to the river late, we wait for the boat and are ferried back across to Mandalay.
We are the only ones on the boat … then just as its leaving 2 tourists jump on at the last minute and sit themselves down. Laughing up at us ‘Mingalabar’ they call … That says it all … Yes. ‘Mingalabar’.
Getting there:Taxi to the river… Our taxi we hired by the day,
By boat across the river…10,000 kyat,
Horse and cart on the other side…. 10,000 kyat
Entrance fees…. included in our Mandalay Archaeological Zone pass.