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Ancient Salay

Pandaw expedition managers are constantly carrying out reconnaissance on the routes we sail in search of undiscovered treasures for our guests to explore. Salay can truly claim to have stepped off the beaten tourist track.

Salay is one of the most beautiful and least visited places in all of Burma, its history rooted in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as an overspill of Old Pagan. To this day, Salay remains an active religious centre with almost fifty monasteries and many Pagan-era shrines to explore on foot, offering a truly peaceful insight into Buddhist culture. These are amazingly well-preserved thanks to the constant loving attention of the monks who tend to them.

This colourful, ancient village lies twenty-two miles from Pagan. Once a bustling trading port under British rule, Salay is now a sleepy village filled with colonial architectural treasures and timeless teak monasteries. The only remnants of the Burma Oil Company are the crumbling colonial houses in hues of peeling blues and greens which housed rig workers in the area from 1886. These are now partly disguised behind an avenue of starfruit trees. Today, the small local economy relies on family farming of mainly peanuts and plums.

Of many visual delights, Mann Paya Buddha is an outstanding relic. Legend has it that local villagers spotted the hollow twenty-foot wooden statue floating downriver after heavy flooding in 1888. The villagers dragged it ashore and coated it in gold lacquer. The Mann Paya is believed to be one of the only lacquered and largest Buddha images in the country. Nobody knows for certain who carved it, but its style suggests an origin of around 1300 AD.

Salay, Burma

On the eastern riverbank of the village is another highlight; the eighteenth century Yout-Saun-Kyaung monastery adorned with elaborate teak carvings and now a Burmese Cultural Heritage site.

For those interested in the literary heritage of Burma, Salay is the native town of the famous writer Salay U Pone Nya. There is a small museum dedicated to his writings during the time of the Myanmar Kings.

SALAY HOUSE, a recently restored trading company warehouse built on the banks of the Irrawaddy in 1906 is now operated as a museum. This is a cultural and historical addition to our itinerary where you can enjoy learning about British Colonial Burma through information panels set among artifacts and antiques. There is an extensive outdoor decking and garden area where you can pause to enjoy classic Burmese tea and admire the view over the Irrawaddy.


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