Sin Kyun Village is one of the projects which Sanctuary Retreats supports, it was The Grey Traveller’s second day on a Mandalay to Bagan Irrawaddy River Cruise and our excursion was to discover a little more about local life.
The concept of small group visits works for me as generally I don’t like organised tourism but to see this part of the world a river cruise turned out to be ideal. With just over twenty people on the ship and no one else visiting we felt rather special particularly when we asked to witness a wedding, so with it being school holidays for the children the atmosphere was one of celebration.
So what did I learn? April is very hot and monsoon season is approaching, this means that the river is low and we needed a ferry to get us closer to the river bank. Once the rains start the river rises and floods inland…so our first view was of many of the villagers building flood defences and it was all hands on deck with women transporting concrete bags on their heads and young men forming gabions (baskets of rock) to hold back the river water, labour intensive and uncomfortable in 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Buildings in the village have been moved several times due to previous flooding but many are now supported on stilts. As with everywhere that we visited we were welcomed and our guide Khin Nyein Thu answered any question which we threw at her. Some of the stilts had crude oil painted on them and this helps the stilts to avoid rotting
The wedding was loud and happy, the bride and groom wore matching bright yellow silk costumes and seemed rather non plussed that we were there and wishing them well!
As the day was a holiday apart from the river defence building not many other businesses were in evidence, however we did watch a dexterous young lady weave a material like raffia into the local conical shaped hats. There is a well in the village so locals filter this water for drinking and other domestic uses…. apparently there are traces of iron in it hence the filtering. All these little conveniences would not be possible no doubt without the help of Sanctuary Retreats