Hanoi, Vietnam -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/11/2013 -- The Caw Wain jetty in Mandalay has been receiving and sending out boats for over 150 years. This quay with a rich history is still going strong today. The Irrawaddy River has a vibrant cultural and commercial history and passenger and commercial vessels pour in and out of the city of Mandalay. When King Mindon moved the nation’s capital here in 1857, the jetty grew in importance as the city became a vital trading hub. The river has prevail throughout the years and still stands as the major trading route that it was a century ago.
Today it is a hustling, bustling place of business. The goods are loaded and unloaded by fleets of vehicles and gangs of porters working in unison. The men who work here work hard, it is an uncompromising way of life. Many of their wives and children set up shop along the quayside selling products or food from stalls.
This historic jetty takes in vessels from Bhama and Katha in the Northern division of Sagaing and Prome and Yangon where the river forms its famous delta. The major product here are the building blocks that are taken from local quarries. Shipping them down the river is a much better alternative to road transport, both economically and ecologically. From China, medicines, clothes, cooking oil and other foodstuffs pour in.
The health and safety leaves a lot to be desired here and there have been major health issues in the past. Boiling water from the river, that sees open sewerage from the boats going directly into it, is not a great way to maintain sanitation. A major health education plan is required here. As is normal education, it is not uncommon for children to simply stop going to school because life on the river is more fun. Also they can eke out a living by collecting plastic bottles and selling them in the town.
Tourism in growing rapidly in Myanmar and Mandalay is certainly starting to reap the benefits of that. The many tourist who travel by boat from Yangon arrive at Gaw Wain. As fast as the tourists come, so the local people adapt to keep pace with a varying economy. Local boys as young as 15, working full time on the Jetty, set up stalls selling souvenirs and postcards. These are run by their younger siblings. Life is tough here, but the people are resilient and hard working.
Holiday makers coming to Myanmar, will find a people that are open, friendly and proud of their country. The working conditions at the jetty are tough. People only survive on subsistence wages. Hopefully as the tourist dollars pour in, the local people will get to benefit. They certainly deserve it.
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