When you google U Bein Bridge, breathtaking photos of a teak wood bridge will greet you. Go ahead google it.
It’s actually the very reason why I decided to make a stop in Mandalay.
U Bein bridge is known as the longest teak wood bridge in the world. It is found in Amarapura (the former capital of Myanmar) and stands around 1 km long.
It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the sun was gearing for the final show. As our ride slowly veer into the scene, buses and cars were already lined up in the parking lot. Sunsets are usually the popular time to visit U Bein, bleeding red orange skies in the background while silhouettes of the bridge and local life fill my imagination.
I invited my Swiss roommate and another Filipina whom I met in one of the temples in Bagan to go there. Three foreign girls who were like kids seeing a bridge for the first time. It did cross my mind though, to run across but remembered how old and delicate the wooden planks were. Nope, I’m not going to be the girl who caused the bridge to fall down.
We continued to walk in a leisurely pace, mostly me lagging behind as I wait for tourists to clear out.
But the bridge is only secondary to visitors. Everyday U Bein connects farmers, monks, merchants, residents etc. to/from Taungthaman town.
Monks in their robes, women in thanaka, and men in longyi. In this part of the world I was the stranger in ordinary shirt and bare face.
For a moment I was taken aback by how busy the bridge was. But if the people were this fascinating to watch, it was enough for me too call it my most interesting sunset by far.
Around the bridge acres of fields line the banks where women in conical hats are tending to. A hard job I always thought and a noble one at that.
Then there are sunflowers to match the one in the sky.
While everything in the area was engaged, the placid lake and a dead tree in the middle showed the contrasting range of the U Bein landscape. Hence I see why it is so popular to photographers.
But it’s really sad how garbage is creeping up on this place. Even on the silhouette picture above pieces of trash cannot hide.
After walking through the bridge we rented a boat for K30,000 for the sunset watch. A small paddle boat enough for 4-5 people.
The boat man drove us around the lake. We went under the bridge, on the left side, on the right side. Slowing down when we held up the camera and even pointing to spots he learned from pros.
By the time sunset came, all the boats converged to one area. Ya we burned our feet with all the day’s temple watching but this one perfectly sums up the day.
To see U Bein bridge, rent a taxi for K35,000-K40,000 for a day’s tour outside Mandalay. Drivers will usually know to time U Bein Bridge for sunset.