Ayeyarwaddy River Cruise; Kyauk Gu U Min Temple;Tant Kyi Taung Mountain Pagoda


For the next three nights and intervening days we will cruise down the Ayeyarwaddy River to Bagan, with some important stops along the way. Rivers have been more useful than roads in moving people and goods around Burma, and there are still many villages and rural areas accessible only by water. Our cruise will be on the Amara I, a shallow-draft teak riverboat 100 feet long with 7 cabins and a crew of 12. On this web page we will look at the cruise itself, with a couple of stops; other stops at Yandabo and Lekkapin Villages and West Sae Lan Island will be treated separately.


We embark from the Sagaing side of the river, next to a local woman washing clothes in the river. We spend the first night on board before the boat actually gets underway the next morning.


At 6AM we cast off and start down the Ayeyarwaddy River. Here, we approach the "New" Aya Bridge (officially the Yandanabon Bridge); beyond it we will pass beneath the "Old" Inwa bridge. The new bridge is highway only; the old one also carries railroad tracks.

log raft

The sun rises at about 6:30AM, and shortly after that we pass this huge raft of logs floating southward.

shore scene
shore scene

Some scenes along the shore ...

shore scene
shore scene


... and some others on the river.


canoe with cattle
lounge chairs

Life on board the Amara I is very difficult. We can barely keep up with our chores of reading and relaxing, while our gourmet meals and deep discussions are so exhausting that we must retire to our cabins for sleep.


mud bank

Just before sunset on the first day we tie up to a mud bank to spend the night. Dinner is served and the bar is open.


Lekkapin Village, Yandabo Village and Novice Initiation Ceremony at West Sae Lan Village

See separate web pages (following this one) for these excursions from the Amara I.


Kyauk Gu U Min Temple



One of our excursions from the Amara I is to this temple, which is built against the side of a cliff, so that a cave may be entered behind the main hall. The cave has niches for meditation as well as many wall niches with Buddha statues; others have apparently been lost. Legend dates the cave to the 13th century, when it is said to have provided a place of refuge from marauding Mongols.


Buddha niches

Tant Kyi Taung Mountain Pagoda

walking in village
boats at shore

Late afternoon on our second day, small boats take us ashore, where we jeep to the Tant Kyi Taung Mountain Pagoda for a panoramic view of the mountains, the Ayeyarwaddy River and beyond to the Bagan Plain. We haven't enough time to visit the pagoda itself.

mountains and river


Farewell and Disembarkation



While we were onshore the Amara I crew has prepared a picnic dinner on a sandbar, where they also serenade us with music.

Amara I

The next morning we thank the crew and take a group photo of them before reluctantly disembarking at a muddy Bagan riverbank not much different than the one at Sagaing where we embarked.