The Rivers of Myanmar
When your surroundings are as beautiful as the hidden, tranquil passages of the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin Rivers, there is a natural softening of things. “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear,” wrote the mystic poet Rumi. So it is that this magical route through fabled Myanmar heightens the senses and brings a hum of happiness.
WE ARE OFTEN TOLD by guests that there’s something about the Belmond Orcaella experience that has really touched them. Because the route that you’re travelling is so undisturbed, you’ll see people going about their lives in a very open, traditional way. Little children play happily in the water, fishermen go by in their longboats, and women wash clothes on the riverbanks. The architecture of the villages and temples is similarly soothing. Sloped roofs and curving pagodas wink gold in the sunshine. The pace of life here is serene and easy.
You can begin your journey on Belmond Orcaella at Yangon, Bagan or Mandalay. These ancient and alluring cities each have different characters. Yangon, in the southern part of Myanmar, makes either an exciting diving-in point for your peaceful water adventure, or a vibrant re-introduction to urban life. To the north of Yangon is the ancient and beautiful city of Bagan, renowned for its 2,000 ancient temples and pagodas dating back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Head further north still, and you’ll find Mandalay—a city steeped in mysticism.
The real wonder of the Belmond Orcaella experience, though, is the journey itself. Be inspired by the peace of the ship as it glides through the water, and the stops it makes along the fabled Ayeyarwady and Chindwin Rivers. There’s a dreamlike quality to seeing the magnificent Shwesandaw Pagoda and 10-storey Buddha for the first time on our excursion to Pyay. From here, you’ll venture to the ancient Unesco heritage site of Sri Ksetra—Sanskrit for “fabulous city”—with its mesmerising stone stupas.
Because of Belmond Orcaella’s smaller size, she’s able to move into rarely-seen parts of Myanmar. This means that you get a unique window on daily life in this unspoilt region. Experience the delight of taking an ox cart ride at Gwechang village with its hilltop fort. Further down the river at the trade port of Magwe you can take a tuk-tuk tour of the market and see the famous Myathalon Pagoda. Those seeking peace and cooling calm will find just what they’re looking for at Salay’s 19th-century teak monastery Yout-Saun-Kyaung.
On this unique passage, connection is offered on every level. There’s the route which brings together fabled cities, of course. More profound though, is the connection you’ll make with Myanmar, its people and, ultimately, with yourself.