On the far side of the Irrawaddy River from Myitkyina are a line of villages called Makhanti (also called Makhundee). They are known as Makhanti 1-4. Prem and Raj kindly offered to take me on a village tour, so I rented a motorbike through the YMCA and we set off. I took the back seat of Prem’s bike, and Raj rode my rental, which we nicknamed ‘the Harley’ due to the noise it made due to a missing exhaust silencer.
Before crossing the river we quickly checked in on the progress of construction at Raj’s house site, and then visited to Raj’s father-in-law. His father-in-law has a large property and grows plenty of crops. After knocking down a couple of young coconuts and drinking the water we set off to catch the boat across the river.
We planned to cross the river and drive north, through the villages, and then return via the Myitkyina Bridge. The boat crossing would be difficult to find if you don’t know where it is. The boat leaves from here (25.36091, 097.36115) and drops you off at the other site here (25.35067, 097.35965). Boats run approximately every 45 minutes. You can take motorbikes; you just park them on the shore and they are driven onto the boat for you. Our boat had around ten passengers, eight motorbikes, and one cow.
Prem and Raj are both grew up in Makhanti and have many relatives there. First we visited the house of Raj’s parents, before moving on to visit various other relatives.
At the house of Prem’s parents, i took the opportunity to photograph Prem’s grandmother. Although 92 years old and now blind, she was in really good health and high spirits. [Prem – if you are reading this you can download a high resolution copy of this photograph here]
Driving south-east around the river bend, we stopped at a very old Hindu temple which, although i didn’t photograph, is well worth visiting. It can be found here: 25.32849, 097.38342
Moving further along the bank of the Irrawaddy, we entered Katcho village, where we ate at a small restaurant (25.32832, 097.40062) famous for it’s pork noodle dishes. It was not long after that our progress was stopped by the most fantastic parade. A huge procession of villagers were moving down the road carrying young boys who were about to start their training at the Buddhist monastery. Shinbyu, the Burmese term for the novitiation ceremony, is a very important step in a child’s life so celebrations are very lavish, and the young boys are carried to reflect the importance of the occasion. As the procession passed, I was greeted by a multitude of smiles and waves. As we made our way back to Myitkyina, i knew that today had been an incredibly special part of my holiday.