Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River

Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River

There is an extensive river system from the very north down to the Irrawaddy Delta where the river empties into the Andaman Sea. It extends into the east and west and is used by the river and coastal vessels. A popular touristic tool and slowly emerging again today are Irrawaddy River Cruises but the flotilla company was gone with the British. 

The Irrawaddy River flows through one country and this is Myanmar the former Burma and it is also the longest river of the country it is possible to enlarge this picture a bit including several of the contributing streams such as the Chindwin Waterway in the western part of Burma. Part of the Chindwin River sources are moving into Myanmar from India it is the  largest contributing stream merging with the Irrawaddy south of Mandalay.

To discover the sources of the Irrawaddy was a constant challenge to many English adventurers during colonial times and they haven't found even yet why? Because the contributing streams in the Myanmar Mountains are far too many nobody really know where it starts. 

Until the British left the Burmese river transport was operated by the "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company" on the Chindwin plus Salween and other waterways. After the British left it was ruined just as usual when communist and military take over something. 

Irrawaddy river sources
Irrawaddy sources in Kachin State

Irrawaddy Delta between Yangon and Bago

In the Irrawaddy Delta
A Cargo Vessel of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company
This double-decker steamer is a legacy (there are more) of the "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company" Glasgow which operated an 8000 km long network in the country. 

Burmese king on the Irrawaddy River

When the Brits started their second war against Burma the East India Company supplied the cargo vessels and some barges. 

In 1865 the "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company" was established by 1885 all was under their control. When WW2 started they had over 600 ships on all major waterways and the Irrawaddy Delta plus coastal vessels..

The RV Road to Mandalay

The RV Road to Mandalay is operated by the Orient Express Company.

They are used between Bagan and Mandalay for touristic purposes and cruising is quite expensive. Between Mandalay and Bagan the vessels above is used among other before tourist were carried on the river Rhine. After the ship was moved in a dry-dock halfway around the globe the one below is a more modern cruise ship edition.

The Orcella RV on the Irrawaddy

Ayeyarwady River Life

Through the Irrawaddy Delta 

The waters from the foothills of the Tibetan Himalayas reach the Andaman Sea through the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) Delta. This is a vast area of wetland were myriads of streams water the paddy fields and people live above the water in huts on stilts. 

During monsoon they move in canoes and bigger boats the remaining time mostly on the hard surface they are very good adapted to this environment. Only from “time to time” this gets out of control as it was happening at cyclon  Nagis a few years ago.

Irrawaddy Delta Kyauktan Pagoda

The Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwaddy) Delta spans from the west coast behind Pathein to the eastern seafront south of Bago which was the main trading point before the British conquered the country. The waterfronts with beach resorts are Chaungtha and Ngwe Saung with some beautiful beach resorts.

Max Beach Resort at Chaungtha
ngwe saung beach

Crossing wider streams and creeks.

Irrawaddy Delta Pagoda

Crossing by ferry

It still needs a ferry when crossing many streams although there are a few bridges the main reason why people mainly from Yangon travel through the delta to the eastern waterfront are for holiday purpose. Buses are available but cars are the normality traveling this vast “paddy lands” are a great experience but most Buses are moving trash.

Children in the delta doing rice planting

A few companies also offer river cruises on the streams and creeks from the main city to eastern shores for holiday purposes.

Delta Steamer

Working in the wetland
Living in the river

Monastery on an island

Rice Ships

Children Fun during Monsoon
Children Fun 
during Monsoon
Wetland agriculture
Wetland agriculture

The real flood pours down from the sky from around July to October during this period most beach resorts are close since nobody will visit on holidays anyway.

Sometimes disaster hit. 

This was some years ago during Taifun Nagis. But usually it's only the usual yearly monsoon flood which moves in from the Indian Ocean to bring the needed water.

Children play in the brown muddy water by jumping down from the verandas of palm huts enhanced with bamboo; they glide in their shallow canoes over the flooded ground. The people living in the wetlands are extremely poor since the last few decades their land was ruined. After the British left the country was the major rice exporter in SEA now it’s only a minor one. 

The communist experiment together with a lunatic ruler (he went to Vienna every year for treatment of his Schizophrenia) left a broken country. The new government is trying hard to improve the livelihood of the Myanmar’s but it takes it’s time.

Actually the British who caused this mess don’t give a penny; the US which also left their footprints during WW2 even increased the disaster, the only one left  who helped where the Japanese, read more.

Myanmar house-boat holiday
Old Yangon harbor in the 17 th Century

More about Old Yangon can be found out by a walk through the city, it would be enough when taking the Shwedagon and Bothataung Pagoda, the river and Chinatown as the limit and take a breathing mask with you since the air pollution mainly from rotten cars is disastrous.  

Irrawaddy at Bagan and pagoda

Irrawaddy Cruising at Sagaing

Irrawaddy Cruising at Sagaing, here the river flows through the central region of the country where the banks are flanked with pagodas and temples and on this side also some meditation centers.

Irrawaddy at Mandalay
Myanmar River during Monsoon

Chindwin River at Monywa

Kaladan River at Rakhine

Kaladan River in Rakhine links Mrauk U with the Gulf of Bengal. This waterway sees heavy traffic since there are no suitable roads around, to the north is Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh.