Mandalay Port Ayeyarwady RiverThe river of spirits the Ayeyarwady or Irrawaddy, is Myanmars lifeblood. Over 2000 k long and flowing north to south through the larger part of Myanmar, the river is its most important commercial highway, and is made up of two large rivers converging.
Starting in the Himalayas and seen from the air the river looks like the spreading branches of the tree of life. Documented as early as the sixth century and probably well before, it has been used as the main highway for Burma and has been instrumental in the rise and fall of the political kingdoms.
Local craft, boats, ships, cargo barges, tourist river cruises, bamboo rafts, and previously large teak log rafts all compete for their place on the river.
With the Ayeyarwady rising up to 11m in the monsoon season, bridges have been designed to span up to several kilometres wide to cope with this seasonal deluge arriving each year with the monsoon rains. Its June now so they will be here very soon …
Known as the Shwe Kyat Yat Port of Mandalay, this part of the Ayeyarwady sits below Shwe Kyat Yat Pagoda and is a site for everything river based to come and go from. Holding anything from large transport barges beached on the river banks, to small fishing out-riggers the river banks are filled with life.
Transport rigs and old do-it-yourself open engined trucks come and go dropping off and picking up. Pigs in the back, bags of rice, vegetables, bags of cement, you name it. Large floats of bamboo hitched up to each other as floating rafts wait for their turn to be tied onto the boats and sent down river.
Washing is washed and dried on the stone banks, and big barges are pulled into the bank with manpower to be moored until ready for loading. The freight loaded barges are beached up to the waiting truck. Men and women cart bags along and across the teak planks onto the trucks, and back up to the barge again. Human ants.
And in between all of this the 2 fishermen in the little wooden canoe throw their nets hopefully. We walk round the old rutted stone road to the waiting taxi. Thank you for cool cars because it is hot …