12 January – boat ride to Bagan

We had a decision to make whether to take the 2 day local boat to Bagan and all of our $25 would go to the government or take the 7 hour boat journey and all our $40 goes to a local boat company. We stuck to the easy option, and at 6am had our betel nut driver pick us up to take us to the boat jetty. Unfortunately he took us to the wrong one first, but we had plenty of time so it wasn’t a problem.  The Bible, Lonely Planet, recommended getting a different company to ours, as most were unreliable, but our hotel had booked it for us so we didn’t have much choice. Just before we left, the other company’s boat sped put the jetty and off into the sunrise. That was the last we saw of it.
We got underway about 15 mins late, not bad really, and saw the sunrise over the water and stupa covered hills, nice, nice.

We ambled along, slowly, and had our first near miss with the bottom of the river bed, the captain, who was wearing a Man U tracksuit top, seemed unperturbed. The rest of the day was spent either ambling along the Ayerwaddy River or stuck on a sand bank on the bottom of the river with the driver trying to wiggle our way out of the mess he had driven us into, or driven into the river bank (I think mooring is too nice a word for it!) to ‘wait for the mist to clear’. The free breakfast was a boiled egg, dry toast, marg and a banana. The lunch was cold noodles at £1.50 a plate, and it was minging! As we had both, stupidly, believed our hotel when they said we would arrive at 2pm we hadn’t thought to take loads of biscuits, fruit or water, and were running seriously low on cash as we had assumed we would only need to pay for a taxi the other end. Therefore we had a quiet day onboard, I read most of A Prayer For Owen Meany (which if any of you haven’t read it, has the funniest childhood nativity scenes in it) Guy was attempting another Dostoevsky.
We finally docked at 10pm only 8 hours late, got into a taxi, had to pay the entrance fee to Began before we could go anywhere, thankfully we were first in that queue so we were in our hotel by 10.30pm, half an hour after the beer garden had closed.

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