(A Day Experience at Fishing and Pottery Village on Ayeyarwady River)
Ayeyarwady Community Conservation is mainly based on the two destinations Myit Kan Gyi (approximately 45km from Mandalay) and Hsithe (approximately 60km north of Mandalay), which are situated on the east bank of Ayeyarwady River within the “Irrawaddy Dolphin Protected Area”. These two villages are idyllic, riverside villages without electricity or running water, no roads and no cars in the village and accessible only by boat, seems from another era – a hidden gem.
The aims are to conserve the environment of the Irrawaddy River Dolphin and other wildlife on the Ayeyarwady River, to conserve the traditional culture of cooperative fishing with dolphins with cast nets and to provide additional income for two fishing communities who have traditionally fished cooperatively with the dolphins.
Ayeyarwady Community Conservation
Village Tour/River Trip / Community Interaction
Day Return from Mandalay
May - April
After breakfast at your hotel, we will pick you up at 08.00 am by car to start our journey to Hsithe, riverside village. Passing through agricultural land, we drive through many villages, where you can see the daily life of rural Myanmar. The road passes to the east of the famous Marble Mountains, where the raw material for the marble carvers of Amarapura is quarried.
At 10.00 am we arrive at Singu, an attractive small town on the left bank of the Ayeyarwady River. Here you will be met by the village boat from Hsithe. The boat trip is a great opportunity to observe wildlife, particularly water birds such as Ruddy shelduck, Chinese spot-billed duck, Asian open bill and many Black kites, ospreys, and Cormorants etc (most birds are migratory and the best time to see them is late November-late March).
We arrive in Hsithe at 10.45, in time for light refreshment in the Visitor Centre. This attractive building is positioned on the east bank of the river with panoramic views. Often dolphins can be observed, feeding in the waters opposite. Now you will learn to be a fisherman/woman! The training lasts one hour but is great fun.
First, you will be shown how to cast a net and then it is your turn!! Using a light net, especially designed for the purpose, you will have two or three trial throws on the ground adjacent to the centre. Then you go by fishing boat to shallow waters and practice your skills. Young or old, male and female, this is something you will enjoy and remember. Lunch is taken in the visitor centre.
After lunch, you will have time to look round the many information boards that explain about life in the village: the fishing, farming and the local wildlife, especially the Irrawaddy River dolphin. It is also an opportunity to buy locally-made handicrafts in the visitor centre shop. In the afternoon, you will go for a tour of the village, which will be led by one of the villagers. You can observe local village life in all its fascinating forms – the architecture, the people, the animals, the activities and the monasteries. It is a village of bullock carts, smiling children, and of communities going about their daily life - the life which is little changed over the centuries. But sadly, it is now time for you to leave this timeless idyll. Once more you travel by boat.
This time, you head upriver to Singu. The water birds look particularly beautiful in the afternoon light. You depart Singu at 16.15 pm and are delivered back to your hotel in Mandalay by about 18.30 latest.
After breakfast at your hotel, we will pick you up at 08.00 am by car. Our day excursion to Myit Kan Kyi village which is situated on the east bank of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River north of Mandalay, is ideal.
En route to Myitkangyi, we will pass over the impressive Sagaing Bridge from where you can see the many beautiful pagodas on Sagaing Hill.
From here, we proceed to the west of the Mingun Hills seeing in the distance the famous Kaung-hmu-daw Pagoda. Our journey is now through open countryside. For those of you interested in wildlife, there are many rare and interesting birds to be seen, including the endemic White-throated babbler. If you are lucky you will also see Oriental honey buzzard and Red-wattled Lapwing.
At 10.00 am you will arrive at the busy market town of Sheinmaga, which is on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. Here you will be met by the village boat. Now you are on the river! It is beautiful. There is always something happening. On the banks, watch the women with their children do the washing. There are boats of all sizes and shapes - big boats going far up-river to Kachin State; smaller boats, travelling from village to village. On the hills, stupas flash golden in the sun. We arrive in Myitkangyi at 11.35 and have some light refreshment in the Visitor Centre. Here, there are information boards that explain about life in the village, the fishermen, the wildlife and especially the Irrawaddy River dolphins.
Now we are ready for a village tour which will be led by one of the local villagers. We will see the local farmers and meet the fishermen’s families. In the fields we will see the women – maybe they are planting rice or perhaps they are harvesting the peanut crop. The village is full of traditionally designed wooden houses and the dusty tracks between them are home to the bullock carts that carry the villagers and their crops to and from the fields. We have lunch in the visitor centre and this is also an opportunity to look at some of the handicrafts made in the village and which are available for sale (fixed price – they are lovely, so please bring some Myanmar kyat with you – dollars will not work in a village!!).
In the afternoon, you will learn for one hour to become fishermen/women. Casting a net looks difficult but is surprisingly fun to learn. You will be taught by the fishermen using specially designed, lightweight nets. First, you will cast on land and then you will go with the fishermen in a small fishing boat to a shallow area of the river and you will try and catch your own fish! You return to the village, say goodbye to your new friends and take the boat back to Sheinmaga. If you are lucky, you may see a passing dolphin – always a wonderful sight. The car will deliver you back to your hotel by 18.30 pm after a full but unforgettable day. back to your hotel in Mandalay by about 18.30 latest.
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