A really long and really old bridge to explore.
The longest teakwood bridge in the world is the U Bein Bridge about half an hours drive away from Mandalay and is also thought to be the oldest to. It spans around three quarters of a mile across lake Taungthaman and has so far lasted over one hundred and sixty years. It was made from reclaimed wood that came from a former palace. The bridge is shaped in a big curve which apparently was to help prevent damage from adverse weather conditions and excessive water from the lake. It is quite impressive that it has lasted this long but also quite clearly needs quite a bit of maintenance to stop it completely disintegrating in places. It has removable sections to that allow boats to sail underneath.
There are four wooden structures evenly spread along the bridge if you need to rest out of the sun for a while but they are accompanied by souvenir sellers although I didn’t find them to be pushy at all. They also allow you to take in the beautiful scenery for a while on your journey. The bridge is an important thoroughfare for local people to get from one side of the lake to the other so it is quite interesting sitting watching people go buy to.
You can also hire a boat to cross the lake if you aren’t keen on all the walking.
The bridge has become quite a big tourist attraction in recent years so quite a bustling village has grown up at the start of the bridge. There are food and drink stalls and lots of souvenir stalls selling everything from sarongs to parasols and puppets at reasonable prices.
There are quite clearly many people who make their livelihoods from the lake. There are fishermen who are fascinating to watch waist deep in water stealthily stalking the fish and a group of women shoulder high in the water collecting something and storing their finds in large baskets that were floating next to them or at least thats what it looked like from the bridge if anyone can enlighten me I’d be grateful!
The area is very beautiful and well worth a visit maybe reserve half a day for the trip and enjoy.