The Strand Cruise (part three)
We awoke to find ourselves moored on a wild bank on the edge of Bagan’s archaeological zone. The locals, seemingly unphased by the presence of the ship, carried out their daily chores immediately alongside.
The end of October is a great time to visit Myanmar. Not only will you cross paths with fewer tourists, but destinations such as Bagan, which are usually desert like, are green and luscious. If you look closely at the image below, you will notice there are a small number of coloured sections on Dhammayangyi (the large temple in the background). This is plastic tarpaulin, which was used to protect damage sections of the temples from heavy rain, shortly after the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the ancient capital in September 2016.
The morning’s programme included a tour of the must-see Ananda, with its 9.5 metre tall standing Buddha images, and Shwezigon, renowned for its gold leaf decor. After a buffet lunch (the only one served!) the afternoon’s arrangements included a visit to Sulamani and Gubyaukgyi, a 12th century temple famous for the fine stucco decoration that adorns the exterior and its well preserved mural-covered interior. No photos inside I’m afraid! Although we did not visit, next door to Gubyaukgyi is a pagoda called Myazedi. Here you will find the Myazedi inscription, a four-sided pillar that was said to have been inscribed in 1113. Age aside, what is even more fascinating is the fact it the inscription is written in four languages; Pyu, Mon, Old Burmese and Pali.
To conclude the day we stopped of at the popular Bagan House lacquerware workshop. This recently set-up establishment aims to showcase the history, art and production of lacquerware in comfortable surrounds. With a large workshop and shop on-site, this is a convenient option for those looking to pick up quality lacquerware without worry about whether or not its a knock off (if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to tell).
The evening, a group of young local performers joined us on-board to perform a traditional dance and puppet performance. For us, the most memorable set was the puppet dance of Ko Gyi Kyaw, a sacred nat, and guardian of drunkards and gamblers. Ko Gyi Kyaw is a popular nat, especially for the boatmen of the Irrawaddy. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact they like a tipple of two…
Downstairs in The Strand Restaurant, the team were hard at work preparing what was to be a extravagent French dining experience. Due to it being our last night together the group pushed their tables together and raised their glasses in appreciation of the crew.
After saying farewell to the passengers (most had an early start the next day), there was just one last think to do. That was to enjoy a glass of wine in the company of Mr Win, who for us, personifies everything the Strand Cruise sets out to acomplish. He is experienced, attentive, well-presented, smooth sailing and has a fierce desire to pull off everything he does to the highest of standards.
Keen to experience The Strand Cruise for yourself? Contact us by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org for details of rates and availability.