Notes on the Geography of Burma / Myanmar: Mottama
Mottama (colonial Martaban) is the end of the road and railroad; it's also on the right bank of the great Salween, across whose mouth ferries cross to Mawlamyine (Moulmein). There's not much town in the town, but there's a lot of activity, all tied to the boats and the traffic on them.
Main Street. Martaban was once a famous name, referring to the Gulf of Martaban as well as the town. But this is the center of the town today: it doesn't get any fancier than this.
An elegant doorstep into a shack near one of the many ferry docks.
A roof of leaves; woven walls.
Riverboats come in an immense variety, including this magnificent teak vessel.
Lighter boats, heavily powered.
The passenger terminus of the railway from Yangon.
The dock of the train ferry. The breadth of the Salween can be judged here.
The track starts again at Mawlamyine and continues far to the south.
Most heavy freight moves by truck ferry, however. Here's the line-up, with sailings dependent on the tides.
At low tide, the ferry was almost at the end of the ramp, and the truck made half a dozen runs before it made it up, pulled by another truck to which it was tied by a cable.
The same ferry terminal at a quieter moment.
Downstream a few hundred yards but just above the rail ferry, there's a floating dock serving foot passengers, many of whom carry head loads of freight unloaded from trucks that come to the terminal.
Waiting to board.
Note the bamboo sticks, proof of how many sacks the porter carried to the ferry.
No gender discrimination here. The heavy sunscreen is a vegetable paste worn by most women.
The same dock seen on the approach from Mawlamyine, with another passenger ferry leaving the Mottama side. The ferries aren't in tiptop shape: mechanical rudder controls, for example, are broken and replaced by lengths of nylon rope.
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