A boat ride down the Irrawaddy is easily the smoothest form of travel in Myanmar. After the previous days bumpy downhill ride from Hsipaw in which the person next to me, a monk across the aisle, and a person behind me all availed themselves of the plastic bag this was welcomed. The boat zigged and zagged down the river but at a distance where you could see people along the shore line but it was difficult to ascertain the intricacies of their village life. The morning breakfast, flush toilets, and TV on board were instant reminders of how far removed you are from the Burma of George Orwell. What the cruise does is reinforce the image of a present day Myanmar - serenity and peacefulness.
The river was very wide - much wider than the Delaware when it runs between Philadelphia and Camden. There was a hazy sky and the river banks seemed very dry with few trees or other greenery. In some parts there were giant sandbars that split the river into two separate sections. There were also a few incredibly long bridges traversing the river at some points - these appeared mostly to be for trains. The first Bagan temples started to appear when there was less than ten minutes to go on the ride.