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Once upon a time…

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Once upon a time, there was a 1,200-meter long teak bridge. It is said to be the longest teak bridge in the world, and what happens on it every morning is worthy of the greatest of fairy tales.

We have travelled across Burma from North to South, from East to West, and have been utterly amazed by everything we’ve seen until now, where we’ve just reached the town of Mandalay. To be honest with you, we’re not quite sure what Myanmar has got left in store for us, one final farewell gift.

We meet another image-lover from Singapore the day after we arrive. We exchange bits of advice and Burmese addresses and quickly realise we’ve both heard of this famous bridge that goes by the name U-Bein, located in Amarapura. The least that can be said is that neither of us knows how to reach it. All we know is we will need a motorised vehicle to reach it as it is situated more than 10 miles from Mandalay. We try to gather information from the locals and gradually come to the realisation that this expedition is going to be tricky!

4am, the alarm rings, we get up, quickly: a new adventure awaits! But this time, we are the sole pilots, we don’t have any messengers waiting for us like at the Taj Mahal. After 12 or so seemingly never-ending miles, wondering at every turn whether we are going in the right direction or not, we reach the so-called U-Bein bridge. But it doesn’t look like what we had in mind: it’s very far away and seems to be ever so small. It can’t be true: we’ve seen countless beautiful images of this place, there must be a way to get closer to it. We go around the Taung Tha Man Lake, which the U-Bein crosses, and finally reach one side of the bridge. It is still very dark out and we’re far from dazzled by what we see. As the first sunrays appear, I notice a strip of land in the middle of the lake that seems accessible by the bridge. With my tripod on my shoulder, I run across half the bridge, as I don’t want to miss the show about to unfold.

As I catch my breath, I am astounded by the painting unfolding before my eyes. We had been told that west of the bridge is a monastery, and that East of it is the town of Pyigyitagon. Since the beginning of our trip in South-East Asia, we have witnessed on countless occasions many beautiful things, but nothing quite as breath-taking as this.

After more than an hour spent gazing at so much beauty, we eventually leave this enchanted bridge, thinking that Myanmar could never cease to amaze us.


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