Myanmar is a special country. Perhaps the most different from Southeast Asia, that area of the planet that, a few decades ago, became fashionable in the backpacking world.
His people are infinitely and genuinely kind, its landscapes are impressive and varied and its architectural heritage is wonderful. With all these attractions and the political opening of the country - which became a reality after the victory of the NLD of Aung San Su Kyi in the November 2015 elections - more and more tourists are visiting Myanmar.
The usual route of these tourists includes two imperial cities, but very different from each other: Mandalay and Bagan.
Monks in Mandalay
While Mandalay is a modern city and always on the move, the headquarters of the last king of Myanmar has little to do with the sacred and spectacular Bagan, a city where more than 3,000 pagodas emerge between vegetation and crop fields.
Only 180 km separate these two icons from Myanmar, but the trip changes a lot if you do it by boat or by road. Having tried both, I keep the river option, but here I tell you the experience in both cases.
School in Mandalay
The Ayeyarwady River is the main river artery of Myanmar.
With their more than 2,150 km in length, it crosses the country from north to south and is its main source of life since time immemorial. Large and old cargo barges, small chalupas with groceries, fishermen's canoes and, of course, some transport boats, both for tourists and locals, glide over its waters.
It was precisely the existence and morphology of the Ayeyarwady one of the reasons why the ancient kings of the Burmese Empire chose to found Bagan in its current location. With its enemies seated in the west, the mountains and the river formed a perfect natural protection against possible invasions.
Today, the inhabitants of New Bagan wash clothes, bathe, water their crops and even drink the brown waters of the Ayeyarwady. On both banks settle villages, stupas, pagodas, palm groves, potatoes or chilis. A very clear demonstration that life comes from water.
I crossed them in a medium-sized ship.
The top of the boat from Bagan to Mandalay