Paukan 2007 Irrawaddy River Cruise, Day 2

Our smaller sister ship, the Paukan 1947, at sunrise

Our smaller sister ship, the Paukan 1947, at sunrise

Our second day aboard the Paukan 2007 began with us being woken at 6am by the dropping of the anchor and all the bangs and creaks that go with that; our room is in the worst location on the ship – it’s the final cabin at the bow, right next to the mechanical action. If you intend travelling on this cruise, find out your cabin location – and if it’s 201 or 202, try and get another if at all possible. I drifted back off to sleep after a while, but it wasn’t enjoyable – John got up and took some pics on the sun deck.

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Our one shore visit today was to Yandabo village, a cottage industry village whose residents make water pots and cooking pots that get sold all over Myanmar. It was also the location of the signing of the first Anglo-Burmese peace treaty in February 1826. We felt slightly less of an intruder on our visit to this village (population about 1,500) – I guess they have been entertaining tourists for longer and it’s all become part of their weekly routine (and in some cases, their income). There was one girl banging her clay pot into shape with skill and speed, smiling at us while she worked, effortlessly flicking her bent knee to help turn the pot in her lap in a smooth, rhythmic beat. The guide showed us her photograph on the wall of the family home, all decked out in academic dress – she had a degree in economics from Myanmar University, but had returned home to help her family out in the business. It wasn’t made clear if this was something she was doing in her holiday, or if it was a permanent move.

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Even in a village of this size there is still a clear indication of the relative ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ within the village with their housing situations. The family that owned the shop and also produced a huge number of pots had a veritable mansion compared to its neighbours – 2-storey brick, brightly coloured stucco, fancy parquet floor structure, compared to the shelters with walls on only 3 sides, made of wood and palm fronds.

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The scale on industry in this village was very surprising. There are obviously still small scale family businesses making their own pots (and different families decorate their pots in their own unique designs or stamps), but the scale of some of the larger operations was huge. One pile of pots about to be fired in the ‘back yard’ contained about 5,000! (Was chuffed that I won the guessing competition on that one!)

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There was another presentation of a song by the school children (even though holidays were on), this time complete with hand actions. They were all delightful – the usual mix of personalities, ages and abilities that are in all children the world over. There was a smaller boat, also of Ayravata Cruises, that was doing a tandem tour of the village – our guides trying not to hit the same ‘sites’ at the same time to ease congestion. However, we appeared at the school together, so it became one big concert, which I think the kids enjoyed. The other tour group were a tad perplexed when our Casio-carrying companion whipped it out and started in on ‘Frere Jacques’ as per yesterday, but it didn’t quite take off into another song, thank goodness, and once done we all headed off back to the ship (some of us more eager to escape than others!).

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Sun setting on the Irrawaddy River

Sun setting on the Irrawaddy River

Making our own way back to the Paukan, we made big plans for the afternoon – eating, lazing, resting, reading, chatting…and then round two for the evening. Cruising is certainly a type of travel it would be easy to adapt to!

The Paukan 2007 is an Ayravata Cruises ship.

Our travel agent on this trip was Kyaw Khaing at One Stop Myanmar. He handled all of our internal flights, transfers and tours. We were very impressed with his efficiency, helpfulness, excellent advice, friendliness and price!

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About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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