A trip down the Irrawaddy River – Part 5 – Bhammo to Katha

On the morning of February 18th, we got up early to catch a boat to Katha. The Kiwi (James) and the German (Burghardt) decided to fly out of Bhammo so they stayed behind, leaving me and the two Austrians named Chris (who didn’t know each other until a few minutes before I met them in Myitkyina) to continue on our journey.

We first climbed into a boat with only a couple of seats, which took about half an hour to take us to the boat that would take us the rest of the way.

This second boat, with plenty of seating, was bright yellow and relatively comfortable for a Burmese river boat. There were a couple of Burmese soldiers on board and they were happy to let me take a photo of them. I feel it’s important to remember that the Burmese military is a terrible institution which carries out unbelievable acts against both Burmans and minority ethnic groups in Burma, but that doesn’t mean that every individual soldier is a bad person. These two may have blood on their hands, or they may not. Most people who join the Burmese military do so because it gives them a somewhat stable source of income and provides a bit of protection to their family.

As usual, I took lots of photos from the boat as we zipped down the river:

These are three Burmese army trucks, part of a larger convoy of trucks carrying troops and supplies from one place to another:

Buddhist monks bathing at the side of the river:

Our boat’s engine cut out during one of our stops, and it took about an hour to get it running again. It cut out again as evening approached at another stop, not far from our final destination, Katha. They couldn’t get it going again, so they unloaded the new motorcycles on board and some boys drove them off to the town with a message to send another boat back for us.

While we waited, I took a few photos on the shore:

Our stranded boat:

Cows eating hay outside the small family hut where we broke down:

The rescue boat arrives:

Both boats have been tied together, so the blue boat can lead both boats to Katha:

Dusk as seen from the roof of the blue ‘rescue’ boat:

We arrived in Katha in the dark, checked out several guesthouses, settled on a fairly shabby place, went out for food and a walk around town, then headed to sleep.