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Myanmar River Journey (Ananda)

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Day 1 Yangon arrival

Welcome to Yangon! Transfer to hotel to check-in.

Day 2 Yangon city tour (B,L)

Begin the city tour with the 2000 year-old Sule Pagoda and Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda with an impressive 216 ft-long reclining Buddha image. Continue to Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, where there is time to browse through the dozens of stalls and shops. This is Yangon’s best market for handicrafts and other goods. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays). Return to the hotel. Late this afternoon, visit the spectacular golden Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most sacred Buddhist pagodas in Myanmar. Enjoy the sunset view over Yangon city and across river from the platform. The rest of the evening is free at leisure.

Day 3 Yangon – Embark on Sanctuary Ananda in Mandalay (B,L,D)

Morning, transfer to the airport for flight to Mandalay. Start your tour to visit Mahamuni Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s most religious monuments housing the revered Mahamuni Image. It is said to have been sculpted in the presence of the Gautama Buddha during a visit to the Kingdom of Arakan. Transfer to the Santuary Ananda for check in. Lunch will be served onboard as we cruise towards the pagoda-sprinkled hills of Sagaing, an important religious and monastic center, home to some 554 monasteries and 6,000 monks and nuns. Take a short stop at several of the monasteries and pagodas, but it is the views from the top of the Sagaing Hill on the terraces of the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda which are truly breathtaking. Before returning to the ship we will visit a silversmith workshop in the village of Ywataung where the craftsmen are renowned for their engraving skills. The RV Ananda will depart Sagaing at 4 p.m. First stop is at Amarapura, known as ‘The City of Immortals,’ which, in its heyday, held some 200,000 inhabitants. We will visit one of the textile workshops, followed by the U Bein Bridge at 5:30 pm, a spectacular place to enjoy the sunset. This long teak bridge snakes across the Taungthaman Lake. After sunset, we will catch a boat up the Ayeyarwady River and return to the RV Ananda. A welcome dinner will be served on a sandbank overlooking Mingun, home to the ruins of King Bodawpaya’s folly--a pagoda which, if finished, would have stood some 500 feet high.

Day 4 Mingun (B,L,D)

At 7a.m., a visit to the Sanctuary-adopted village of Sin Kyun can be arranged. This wonderful community will show you the typical life of the villagers and you will see a way of life seldom viewed by outsiders. The RV Ananda will then sail to Mingun, a journey that will give you a wonderful glimpse into river life on the Ayeyarwady. On arrival in Mingun, an ox-cart will be your mode of transport through this sleepy, attractive village. The first stop will be at the unfinished Mingun pagoda. Construction began in 1790 and today a huge pile of bricks is all that remains of King Bodawpaya’s grandiose scheme. Nearby stands the massive Mingun Bell that measures more than 12 feet high (3.66 meters) and 16 feet wide (4.88 meters). Lastly we come to a most unusual white pagoda known as Myatheindan (Hsinbyume). It was built by King Bodawpaya’s grandson, Bagyida, in memory of his senior wife, the Queen Hsinbyumei. Return to the ship at 10 a.m. and start sailing south. Visually Myanmar is unique, the eye is constantly delighted by scenes of casual, almost unintended beauty. Ladies perched on rocks chatter as they do their daily wash. An ox-cart waits on the banks for a boat to arrive and unload its goods. These scenes are set against a backdrop of soft browns, rich tamarind trees with white and golden pagodas gracing the distant hills. There is no better way to enjoy this river picture than from the Kansipanorama lounge. After lunch a variety of onboard activities will be offered including a longyi (sarong) and thanaka (cosmetic) demonstration, a cooking school with the chef, cheroot and betel-nut tasting and a talk on Myanmar – covering the country’s incredibly rich history, the recent controversial decades to the outlook for the future of The Golden Land.

Day 5 Pakokku - Bagan (B,L,D)

For those who wish, a meditation and yoga session is available before breakfast. Pakokku just south of the confluence of the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin Rivers is RV Ananda’s next stop. Trishaws will take you to the local market where mouth-watering fruit and vegetables are laid out with consummate style, an extra touch is provided by sprigs of flowers on each stall. Return to the RV Ananda and arrive in Bagan in the early afternoon. Our first visit will be to Htilominlo Temple a two-story, red-brick temple built around 1211 A.D. It is a magnificent structure, though now heavily restored. Inside four Buddha images face the cardinal points on both levels of the building. Some of the old murals can still be seen as can a number of the friezes. Several old horoscopes, painted to protect the building from damage, can be found on the walls. Onto the village of Myinkaba, a center of the ancient craft of lacquerware which has been produced in Bagan since the time of King Anawrahta, around 1050 A.D. The traditional methods are still used here in the workshop. End the day with a quiet moment on the terraces of the Pyathatgyi Temple. Admire the light change on the pagodas which exude antiquity and mystery. Finally, the sun sets behind the hills on the far side of the Ayeyarwady, filling the sky with a reddish glow, a truly magical moment. Dinner will be onboard followed by a local performance.

Day 6 Bagan (B,L,D)

Begin your day by watching the sun rise from the plain on a temple terrace in the company of a meditation expert. As the light dawns and the sun illuminates the landscape, the scene becomes alive. RV Ananda will set sail at 8 a.m. passing Chauk, one of the original oilfields where the nodding ‘donkeys’ (oil well pumps) stand by the river bank, still working away. The ship will arrive at Sale (Salay) around 11 a.m.. Sale is a perfect small community to wander around on foot or by trishaw. We will visit Yoke Sone Kyaung monastery, a fine teak building with some beautifully crafted reliefs. We will return to Bagan to visit the Ananda Temple, completed in 1091 A.D., it is commonly referred to as one of the four great temples in Bagan. The Ananda is regarded by folklore as one of the most beautiful temples in Myanmar. The temple is shaped like a perfect Greek cross and rises in graduated terraces to a height of some 170 feet. Inside stand four magnificent golden Buddha statues. Within the temple grounds is the Ananda Oakkaung, the well-preserved remains of a monastery complex with murals depicting Burmese life from the 11th-13th centuries. Then we drive to the village of Wetkyi-in and the cave temple, Kubyaukgyi (Gubyaukgyi). The Kubyaukgyi Temple dates from the early 13th century, and has a pyramidal spire very similar to that of the Mahabodhi Pagoda. Inside are some of Bagan’s finest frescoes of the Jataka tales. Return to the ship at 6 p.m. in a horse-drawn cart for a traditional Shan dinner with our Captain.

Day 7 Bagan – Disembarkation (B)

Enjoy an early breakfast before check out at 9 a.m. You have a tour to visit Minanthu village in the heart of the Bagan plain, to see the way of life of the local people, before progressing to a brick factory. The brick-makers extract the material they need from the soil, mold it and then bake it on the spot in a makeshift oven. Onto the village of Myinkaba, a center of the ancient craft of lacquerware which has been produced in Bagan since the time of King Anawrahta, around 1050 AD. Here in the workshop, the traditional methods are still used. The last stop is at a jaggery workshop which produces unrefined sugar. The sap is collected from the toddy palm in a little pot and is then boiled to produce sweets. Transfer to your hotel for check in.

Day 8 Bagan – Heho – Inle Lake (B)

Breakfast at Hotel . Transfer to Nyaung Oo airport for departure to Heho by morning scheduled flight. Arrive Heho airport and drive to Nyaung Shwe Jetty by passing through Shan Plateau with green fields which are ringed by the cool green hills of the highlands of the Shan State. At 1300 meters above sea level, Inle Lake is seemingly a world apart from the rest of Myanmar. Explore the lake by boat to see “one-legged rowing” fishermen, floating markets, and villages and temples that sit on floating islands. Visit the “Ancient monastery - Ngaphachaung”, the cottage industries, and the colorful hill tribes in the mountains for their special handwoven silk fabrics. Transfer to hotel to check in by boat.

Day 9 Inle Lake – Indein (B)

After breakfast, experience the local bustling floating market which rotates around the waterside villages in a 5-day rhythm (Note: there are no markets on full moon or dark moon days). Then cruise along a small canal leading to the Po ah village of Indien. Take a leisurely walk through the village to the beautiful Alaung Sitthou with its vegetation-covered stupas overlooking the breathtaking Inle Lake. Return to your Hotel .

Day 10 Inle Lake – Nyaung Shwe – Yangon (B)

Check out by noon, then drive to Heho airport for flight to Yangon. Arrive in Yangon and transfer to your hotel.

Day 11 Yangon departure (B)

Free time until transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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