“Slow boat to Bagan, you see both sun rise and sun set, very beautiful…” Mr. Toe said. So far, we have yet to see good sun rise and sun set. So, taking the traditional slow boat (US$10 per person) vs touristy fast boat (US$16 per person) becomes more inviting to us. We decided to leave on Wednesday morning, the date scheduled for traditional slow boat from Mandalay to Bagan.

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Unfortunately, there was a real down pour in the morning, just in time to soak us. Tim, from Australia, knocked on our door around 4am to ask if we still proceed our plan. By knowing that Mandalay had been dry for the past few days, I assume it might rain for the next couple of days, we decided to leave. Yet again, we under estimated how strong the rain was. We left our raincoats nicely packed in the big luggage. We had been nicely escaped from all kind of wet condition but not this time.

The streets scene in this rainy early morning was nostalgic. Little sparkling front lights of the shop houses here and there, while the streets were still wet and dark. A few locals walked rapidly with poorly equip rain gear. Some use a small piece of clear plastic to cover their heads, some simply ran across the street with nothing with their hands on their heads.

Upon arrival to the jetty, my first step out of the taxi was in the muddy running water. It was at least 6cm deep… yahoo!

At the jetty, there were a few bus load of Spanish and Italian tourists. Everyone carried their lunch boxes rushing over a little wooden plank into the boat. So far, all of us were soaked. The boat has both upper and lower deck. Tourists each paid US$10, so they were arranged a seat on plastic chairs on the upper deck. Local fee was 500 Kyat (US$0.45), they were at the lower deck. This was the arrangement at the beginning of the trip.

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The boat journey began with clear territory division between tourists and locals. Slowly, some locals came up due to the lower deck was completely pack with goods and people. Due to heavy splashing rain on the port side, most tourists moved to the starboard side, and the locals slowly occupied the empty area.

The boat was heavily overloaded, it was swinging and slanted on one side most of our journey. In the first hour, our boat captain came up twice to shift people to the middle center in order to balance it… My heart sank as some chairs were slipping out towards the edge of the boat and we still have a lot more hours to go…

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The day gradually cleared up during the journey, we started enjoying the locals loading and unloading from the boat. Most of the locals carry stuff that perhaps 2 times heavier than themselves. They portrayed great sense of balance…

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Very nice and peaceful village behind the green grass… The main transportation on land for locals seem to be cow cart…

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Boat transfer…

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Little kids waiting for pencils/shampoo from tourists…

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Most of us have dog and/or cat as pets, the local’s pet is…

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Heavily soil erosion can be seen in some of the villages along the way…

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Pakokku is the second largest town in North Myanmar. Locals transfer from one boat to another…

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Locals having a nap on the wooden deck…

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A curious little kid on board…

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