We had been in Burma for less than 12 hours but we were up at 5.15am to get the boat to Mandalay. The manager of our hotel drove us to the boat jetty. It was an interesting journey through bustling streets full of monks, kids and market stalls. I saw shop traders putting rice in the bowls of the monks and lots of young people in brown or pink robes.
We took the Malika 2 boat to Bagan, which was pretty comfortable. Everyone is assigned a soft seat inside and there is a deck with wicker chairs for anyone to use. There was an early morning chill (we visited Burma in December) but we decided to stay outside. It was quite hot once the sun was high in the sky.
The boat was half empty (or perhaps even less) so there was plenty of space. The sun was still rising as we departed and there was a beautiful light. As we headed out of Mandalay the shore was lined with golden pagodas. It was an amazing sight and I felt like I was really on the trip of a life time. Just as we came to a wider part of the river, I caught sight of a huge, golden buddha watching out over the water. It was really a breathtaking scene and a proper welcome to Burma!
The 9.5 hour journey passed quickly, especially the first few hours. We passed by rural river banks and occasionally a small village. People used oxen to work fields and men were fishing on tiny, wooden boats near to shack perched on sandbanks. Occasionally people would wave at us and I would wave back, wondering what their life was like.
Notes about Malikha 2
If you want to take the boat from Myanmar to Bagan (or back) you basically have two choices. The government boat (extremely slow and you are giving all your money to the government- something most people try to avoid in Burma/Myanmar) or the ‘luxury’ option. I really enjoyed our journey on the Malikha 2. There were a mixture of independent travellers and a very small tour group. We got tea and coffee in the morning (no breakfast food though) and for a small extra, bought a delicious, freshly made, vegetarian lunch!
We didn’t arrange a pick up with our hotel but I would recommend doing this for ease. There’s a bit of a jostle when you get off the boat- people wanting to carry your luggage up the hill and taxi drivers demanding to know where you are going. But everyone has to make a living somehow of course and we were soon on our way to our hotel.