Mandalay, Amarapura, and the U-Bein Bridge
Thursday, November 26, 2015
This morning, I awoke aboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Mandalay after a fantastically comfortable sleep. Despite the fact that the townspeople of Amarapura insisted on blaring music at all hours of the night as part of their Tazaungdaing Festival, or what I’ll just call the Full Moon Festival for the sake of clarity. This occurs in November to celebrate the end of the rainy season, and we just happen to be here at the climax of the ceremony.
The great news is that the rooms are beautifully soundproofed, and you can choose how you’d like to sleep: a set of slatted sliding doors gives way to a second set of glass sliding doors. For maximum effect, close both doors to keep the heat and the sounds out. But, if you’d prefer to sleep with natural fresh air, you can keep the glass doors open and just close the double sliding slatted doors, as they have mesh netting that should keep out most* of the bugs.
*Most. Bugs here – particularly the mosquitoes – have a funny way of getting in through even the tiniest cracks. Bring lots of strong insect repellent, and even then, be prepared to get bit a few times.
Which brings me to Malaria: the risk of Malaria – at least where Viking goes – is very slim. You don’t have to take antimalarials for this journey, though you can if you feel safer. But the mosquitoes here are resistant to Malarone, which was my antimalarial of choice in South Africa three years ago. Plus, you’ve got to worry about Dengue Fever, which has no antidote or cure, as well as a host of other infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. The best solution: cover up as much as possible, and wear lots of bug spray.
Forgot to bring your bug spray, or just left it in your stateroom? No worries: Viking keeps three kinds of bug sprays outside the Reception Desk on Upper Deck for you to spritz liberally on as you stroll by.
With that cleared up, today brought with it a full day of exploration in Mandalay and nearby Amarapura. In fact, our touring began early this morning and lasted until well after sunset, arriving back at the Viking Mandalay just after six in the evening.
Because of the Full Moon festival, traffic was a vicious mish-mash of cars, motorbikes, and impossibly overloaded one-ton trucks and vans that carried seemingly entire villages within their steel-cage confines. Pedestrians crowded the dusty streets, again collecting cash offerings for Buddha.
Our Live Voyage Report from Viking River Cruises’ Myanmar Explorer continues tomorrow with some scenic cruising aboard the gorgeous Viking Mandalay! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.