Day 16. Pakokku
Today we took a boat to Pakokku where supposedly there is a nice market to explore. The trip out on the boat took about 3 hours but was well worth it.
We rode down to the ferry terminal just adjacent the River View hotel to load our bikes onto the boat we hired for the day. We'd negotiated the night before with one of the drivers to take us to Pakokku and back for 35,000K.
Aye Aye on the Ayeyarwady
The boat trip up the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) traced closely to the shoreline where the drivers were familiar with the depths. It’s hard to tell from one wet season to the next where a sand bank can form.
On the sides of the river, children play, women wash clothes and bathe. Occasionally we passed through a group of people panning for gold and gems; their sand and gravel sorting rigs setup on the sides of the river banks and their faces firmly poised to watching for that illusive glimmer of sunlight drenched gold dust.
The noisy single cylinder Chinese made engine resonated throughout and vibrated the timber boat. After a while you don't hear the rhythmic and continuous pounding in the ear - instead it slowly fades into the background and sends you to sleep.
My face soaked by the warm morning sun, I slid into a gentle sleep on the hard trembling wooden bench. Before I knew it we'd completed the 3hr journey to Pakokku and I awoke when Billy started to splash me with water.
We cycled through the town taking in the leisurely surroundings and explored the town. On the way back we stopped in on the large central market and had some tea.
Taking our time getting back to the boat we explored some more of the back streets of the town. Mud brick houses, bamboo shacks, children playing in the streets, people relaxing on bamboo deck chairs. The air was filled with exotic smells.
Some were food related smells; others not so pleasant.
Travelling with the current
The trip back took only 2hrs because we were travelling with the current.
The sun was ahead of us now, Billy and Mucks soaked up the rays up front, where the warm breeze of the afternoon relaxed us into a daze.
Dave didn't take long before he succumbed to the charmingly hypnotizing engine - head resting on his yellow backpack and one leg dangling out the window.