"The Bridge and Unexpected Lessons" Amarapura by Hewer

Amarapura Travel Guide: 90 reviews and 258 photos

Like most visitors I travelled to Amarapura on a day trip from Mandalay. The main attraction for me in coming here was the U Bein bridge, which I'd neither heard of nor seen a picture of before I went to Burma. The bridge is made up of 984 teak pillars, and its length is 1.2 km, actually making it the longest teak bridge in the world. The teak pillars used to construct the bridge were taken from the former palace of Inwa. One would conclude from all of this that I am obsessed with teak or own a plantation somewhere, but neither is actually true. I went to Amarapura with nothing to lose; at the very least I would have an impressive conversational trump card to pull if ever teak entered some future conversation.

As it turned out, I had a different tale to tell altogether...

A little bloke I will never forget

Like many people, one of the things I dislike when travelling is having to deal with vendors and touts. We're all polite at first and after a few days, fatigue creeps in and I must admit I start shaking my head as they approach. Strangely then, my most memorable time in Mandalay was spent talking with a kid selling jade ornaments.

We got out of our taxi and were set to walk across a long bridge to Kyauktawgyi Temple. A group of about ten people milled around us, calling out "souvenir", "Mister",
"cheap" etc. Somewhere in the group a little voice was speaking near perfect English. The lad pictured here is 7 years old and is called Myomilwe.

He gave us a tour of the temple, spoke to a few people for us, did a bit of translating, taught us some Burmese and otherwise just asked a barrage of questions.

"What's it like in your country?"
"Why do you only have one sister?"
"Do you ride in a car every day?"

He had a lot of curiousity and that certain kind of brash honesty that only a child can get away with. During our tour he was approached by a boy about his age who spoke to him and then pointed at us.

"Is this your friend?", we asked.
"No, he's not my friend. Same school", he said.

"What does he want?"
"He said you should give him money. Don't talk to him"

This wasn't about greed or anything, just a kid from school he didn't get on with.

He greeted some of his friends along the way and took us to see some people weave baskets. Some of his extended family waved to us as he proudly pointed them out.

On the way back we came upon a girl about his age sitting alone on the bridge. I wanted to get a photo of them together but he was awfully shy about it. He said, "She sits there and takes money for pictures. It's no good."

After I took the picture, he said "Don't give her anything, let's go..." (of course I gave her a few kyat)

I'm pretty sure he is the smartest 7 year old I've ever met. He also spoke French and asked me would I mind speaking French with him for a few minutes so he could practice. He asked me to teach him some Japanese phrases which I did. Five minutes later while I was talking to Mick (VTer McGregorm) I heard him repeating "konnichi wa, konnichi wa, konichi wa" over and over. He's got quite a system!

There was no sour ending either. I gave him a few dollars and told him I didn't want any jade. He said "Oh no, I'll get in trouble. Give it as a present to someone". Fair enough I said and off he went.

I guess the moral of the story is to give people a chance. I feel bad thinking of all the impatient tourists rudely waving Myomilwe away when he's probably only just old enough to understand. I could have done the same thing and instead I had one of the defining experiences of my whole trip.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:My little mate Miyomilwe and the lesson he taught me
  • Cons:It's a little bit out of the way
  • In a nutshell:Go there before everybody else does ;-)
  • Last visit to Amarapura: Jan 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (13)

Comments (3)

  • planxty's Profile Photo
    Oct 17, 2005 at 10:22 PM

    Craig, very good and informative Burma pages. They have been very usefu helping me plan my trip. fergy.

  • herzog63's Profile Photo
    May 1, 2005 at 4:24 PM

    I have fond memories of Amarapura too!

  • ukirsari's Profile Photo
    Apr 28, 2005 at 9:16 AM

    a great explaination about amarapura, hewer! enjoy your virtual trip very much. thanks for sharing :)


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