Locations: The Ayeyarwaddy

The AyeyarwaddyBy the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy by the sea, There’s a Myanmar girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me; For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say: ‘Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!’ Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay: ‘Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Yangon to Mandalay? On the Road to Mandalay, Where the flyin’-fish play, An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘cross the Bay!

The Road to Mandalay of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem is the Ayeyarwaddy River. Arising deep in Myanmar’s Himalayas the river tumbles through forested mountain gorges and fertile farmland, across dry and dusty plains to the many mouths of an expansive delta from which it spills into the Andaman Sea. Running 1,350 miles right down through the center of the country the river is entirely Myanmar from its source all the way to the Bay of Bengal. It is Myanmar’s main trading route and gateway to the interior, and its waters irrigate expansive paddy in the delta making one of the great rice bowls of Asia. The first kingdoms of Central Myanmar were established on its banks and their glittering monuments still line the river’s shore. Today the river’s fertile floodplain supports the majority of Myanmar’s population and as always the river is an inextricable part of their daily lives. To feel the rhythm of this wonderful river is to touch the hearts of its gentle smiling people.


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