U Bein Teak Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar
One of the highlights of any visit to Mandalay is, ironically, to get out of Mandalay. In the surroundings of the ancient capital are the townships of royal yesteryear with pagodas, ruins, crafts and monasteries.
At Amarapura (itself a former capital of Burma), is my favourite of the sights – the U Bein Teak Bridge.
Most tourists come at sunset for the orange glow which gradually engulfs the bridge and silhouettes those upon it.
The ageing teak wood was once part of the Royal Palace but was turned into a bridge by the mayor, U Bein. They were columns which were no longer needed so they found a new home, helping the common people across Taungthaman Lake.
At 1.2 kilometres, this is the oldest teak bridge in the world. And it’s an impressive structure.
But while many tourists come to photograph the bridge and the sunset (it’s got to be one of the most snapped places in Myanmar!), it was the people who I found most enchanting.
Because despite its increasing status as a tourist location, the U Bein Teak Bridge is an important and practical part of the daily movements for people who live in this area. And as the sun slowly drifts towards the horizon over the watery fields around, the residents of Amarapura use it to head home from their day’s activities.
I thought I would share a small collection of the photographs I took at the bridge one afternoon as the day approached dusk.
Although there were a lot of foreigners there (Mandalay has to be one of the busiest tourism places I’ve visited in Myanmar), the locals just minded their own business and went on their way.
Oh, apart from those trying to sell you something… but what else would you expect?
If you’re interested in visiting the bridge yourself, it might be easier if you go with a tour rather than doing it independently.
Here are a few good options: