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Boatman waiting for passengers. In background is pagoda in the middle of the river.
I have taken this trip several times. My main destination was Ye-Le Phaya
or 'pagoda in the middle the river.' It is located in the small town of Kyauktan in Thanlyin (pronounced Ta-nyin) township. Thanlyin was formerly known as Syriam which was an important port city in the 17th century. However, most tourists are not familiar with this place as it is not included among the main tourist attractions of Myanmar. Therefore, if you want to avoid the usual tourist trail, do make this one day tour by car. You won't be disappointed.
I believe you can go by bus, but as I've never taken the bus route I suggest you hire a car like we did one time. The other two times my friend took us in his car.
From Yangon you cross the Yangon River via the Thanlyin Bridge to the other side. On the way to Ye-Le
pagoda you pass several villages so one can see the countryside and rural life of the people. You might be surprised to see a number of Christian churches along with the usual Buddhist pagodas. At one period during the 17th century Thanlyin was ruled briefly by a
Myanmar Oct 2008 007
View across the river from the pagoda. The town is called Kyauktan which literally translates into "Row of Rocks."
Portugese mercernary named Philip de Brito. Hence, one can see traces of Portuguese influence there.
Kyauktan itself is a small picturesque town and its main street is along the riverfront. From that vantage point you can see the pagoda on the river. It is actually situated in mid-stream on a laterite reef. To get there one normally takes a 'sampan' rowboat from the jetty for a small fee, but foreigners are always encouraged to take a larger motorboat for a much higher fare! I think we paid something like 5,000 kyats or about US$6. If you are in a big group that's cheap as these large boats can carry at least 8 passengers.
The boat ride to the pagoda takes only a few minutes. Tourists are obliged to pay an entrance fee of US$2. As I was a 'local' I didn't have to pay (smile).
On our way back we usually stop at the Kyaik-khauk
pagoda which is situated on a hillock. From the top of the pagoda one can see the city of Yangon in the distance.
One time we also stopped at the National Races Village which is actually a
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View across the river from the pagoda.
theme park where you can see the thatched roof houses of the various ethnic groups of Myanmar and how they live. We had lunch at Thanlyin town. There's nothing much of interest to see there, so you might want to make it a miss if you are pressed for time.
As mentioned earlier, this is a delightful excursion to the countryside as one can see the simple life of village dwellers along the way. If there are 3 or 4 people in your group it is advisable to hire a car, and if you leave Yangon early enough in the morning, you can make it back to your hotel for lunch.
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