Life of U Bein Bridge told by itself


It is such a lovely evening that I can't stay indoor so I just walk on the U Bein bridge. The bridge is as crowded as usual however I find a spot to enjoy sunset. The sound of water ripples, fainted chit-chat sounds from other visitors and the sunset harmoniously make me amazed and drifted in the thought. Suddenly, someone says "Hi" to me. Naturally, I say hi back but there is no one near me. I just look around but nobody is heading to talk me.

'Are you alone?' I'm in shock and just nod.

'Who are you?'

'Oh, don't be shocked girl, I'm Mr. Teak across you'


Yes, I'm Mr. Teak, in the bridge, across you. I know you are walking alone so I just want to chat with you. Spending time alone is boring, isn't it?

Yeah. Sure. Nice to meet you. I'm Su.

Nice to meet you, Su! Shall we talk about our life as we don't know too much about each other? As it is my idea to talk about life, should I start first?

Of course. I'm always keen to listen other people's story. Go Ahead, Mr. Teak.

It's nice to reveal my life at last. Here's my story, Su. . .

As you have already known, me and my friends were built and became a bridge already here since 19th Century, older than your grandpa, right? We are from the Ava Kingdom; I think you have learned about this kingdom in your history class. Do you know the detail, Su?

Oh, I know. As far as I remember, the teak wood all are reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa. It features 1086 pillars that stretch out of the water; some are now replaced with concrete. You have been constructed by Myanmar engineers with traditional method of measuring using foot. We have always been proud of you. The bridge was built in the curve shape in the middle to resist the wind and water. There are 482 spans and the length of the bridge is 1209 meters. Believe me I was among top students in my school.

Ok Ok ….. My little top student who constantly surf Google and wiki-lover.

By the way, have you often taken selfie with me? A lot of people do. Nowadays, people love to take selfie on us and even making pre-wedding photo shooting. The sunset and sunrise is incredibly beautiful when you sit on us and watch together with us. As we are famous both in locally and internationally, there are always hundreds of visitors, at least, passing on us every day. Starting from sunrise, local people who sell the souvenir shops on us come for business. Visitors are on us from dusk to down, some even ride bicycle and some youths run freely on us. When we're young, we didn't care about hundreds or thousands. But now, we are oldie, you know, we feel tired and squeak when a lot of weight passing on us at the same time. I wish people notice us that we are not strong and new like before. Oldie need resting time, Su, resting time.We are not youths anymore.

Back in our days, the water beneath us, Taung Thaman Lake, was clear. But, you know, people used it and destroyed it unintentionally. As the economy becomes the first priority, people around us doing business like dying textiles and industries and they discharge their wastewater to the Taung Thaman Lake directly. I have heard that the rising population, establishment of Industrial Zone and construction of residential building enormously decreased our water quality. Actually, I have no interest in the physical and chemical parameters, Dissolved Oxygen, BOD, COD, PH, suspended matters, etc. Let these be for the water experts. I just see clearly that the water color is now Khaki and frothy and with plastics and rubbish sometimes.I still cannot forget the six major died-off fish in 2014 & 2015. From this time, people started pay attention to us and lake. Many experts came to visit us, doing experiments, research and reports. Let me rephrase what the investigators say about the died-offs. These are because of the lower level of dissolved oxygen and water pollution. When water levels drop, the chemical reaction of the sediment at the bottom of the lake leads to the emission of ammonia and nitrogen. That's the main killer. The government and public are more interested in the lake since then and they made workshops and discussion for the matter of us. They often visit to us, taking the water, testing our teak strength and others. They made plan for rehabilitation and restoration of our water, Taung Thaman Lake and us, U Bein Bridge. Su, do you know that, it's really nice to be cared.

Do you want to know about my birds friends?In the last years, tens of thousands of my black-winged stilts visited to us but now I have not seen them. If you see them somewhere, please tell them we are missing them. Also my pied avocets and black-tailed godwits haven't arrived this year till yet. They will definitely visit here, won't they? I am starting to worry the reason of my birds friends not come to us. Perhaps, it is related to climate change, the one I usually heard from the experts. Whatever the reason is, I think, it'll be nice if people conserve the nature and ecosystem before it is too late.

You know, some professors and experts are doing about the restoration of us, teak wood in the bridge. They inspected our weakness, the pillars which need to be repair and made a conservation plan report to the regional government. I hope they implement it sooner so we'll live longer.

Oh, the sun is gone now. I couldn't remember when I started talkative like this. It is said that oldies have always a lot of things to say. Thank you for listening my story, Su. Thank you.

Yeah. I have a great time with you, Mr. Teak. I got a lot of information from you.It is the time to go. Wish that you are here forever beautifully and strongly as ever.

Bye, Mr.Teak!

This story was written by our Mandalay region Water Reporter  Su Lat Phyu. Are you also interested in writing articles and stories for the portal? Send us an email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and join our Reporter's training!

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