Monday, February 16: After my horrible experience in Ava, I’m happy to be back with Meemo again. He takes me back to Amarapura, where we started our day this morning, and he parks the car near U Bein Bridge. I find this colorful boat pulled up on the shore.
Meemo has instructed me to walk across U Bein Bridge, but now that I see the boats, I wonder if I should instead take one to watch the sunset. I always love to be on a boat, but in the distance I can see the impossibly long bridge and I feel like I should walk on the bridge.
U Bein Bridge is a 165-year-old bridge that spans the shallow Taungthaman Lake; it is known as the world’s longest teak footbridge at over 1.2km in length. I guess if you add enough modifiers to a thing, it can be the longest or the best of whatever it is. Apparently the bridge is supported by 1086 poles, only some of which have been replaced by concrete supports.
Construction on the bridge began in 1849 when the capital of Ava Kingdom moved to Amarapura, and the bridge is named after the mayor who had it built. It was built from wood reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa.
Beneath the bridge, seasonal vegetable gardens splay out along the shore. People are sitting under an umbrella beside a little hut in the middle of the fields.
Tourists are getting situated in their boats for the best sunset views.
It’s the dry season now in Myanmar, so the lake is very low and the bridge seems very high. It has no railings on it, so I feel I should pay attention so I don’t go toppling off.
All the boats are lined up parallel with the bridge. The sun will set on the opposite side of the bridge, so they will see the sun set behind the bridge.
There is a lone gnarled tree on the west side of the bridge that makes the landscape look like a post-apocalyptic scene.
The bridge seems to go on forever.
About halfway across, you can climb down off the bridge and walk to the shore amidst the farmland.
There on the shore, we can get a close up view of the boats.
And standing on the shore, we can see the sun start to drop behind the bridge.
I love these colorful boats and the reflections in the water. Now that I’ve walked across, I regret that I didn’t take the boat ride.
As soon as the sun sinks below the horizon, the boats disperse and head back to the western shore.
As is common in many scenic places, a bride and groom are having their photos taken on the western shore, beside the gnarly tree. Some boaters are busily taking pictures of the couple, while I take pictures of all of them.
As I retrace my steps back to the western shore, I can look down and see the cafe hut where many people are having drinks to watch the sunset.
There’s a pretty white pagoda on the shore in the midst of green fields.
By the time I make it back, all the boats are moored for the night and the tourists have all left.
Meemo drives me back to Mandalay, where I take a bit of a rest before I walk several blocks to Thani Thai Restaurant, recommended by a woman at the hotel. I have a delicious meal of Pad Thai with prawns and dried shrimp, along with two Myanmar beers. As my hotel doesn’t have very good wi-fi, I linger awhile over my meal and beers and use the wi-fi to check emails and post some Instagram pictures.
Tomorrow, I’m going on another tour with Meemo and I’m letting him arrange it all. Who knows what will happen next?