CERS Mandalay House

By Wong How Man Mandalay
Along a tributary of the Irrawaddy

Almost seven years ago, CERS launched the HM Explorer, a 106- foot explorer vessel with seven air-conditioned guest cabins. This purpose-built boat allowed CERS to explore waterways of Myanmar, in particular the upper Irrawaddy and its main tributary the Chindwin River. To date, many river trips have been conducted each year, including several cruises involving students and guests.

All along, since 2013 when the boat was first commissioned into service, I have wanted to find a permanent home to moor this very important CERS exploration boat. Numerous trips were taken just to locate an ideal piece of land as our home and center near Mandalay. Finally, an affordable lot was identified and purchased, and a three-story house built to accommodate several functions for the organization, beyond being only a boat base.

The new CERS Mandalay House is located in Thapatetan Village on the Dokhtawaddy River,, less than thirty minutes by car from the airport and a mere five minutes cruise down to the main channel of the Irrawaddy River. This is where the two train and car bridges connect neighboring Sagaing Division to Mandalay, second largest city of Myanmar. The village has around 80 families, predominantly involved in pottery making and weaving of longyi, the daily costume of traditional Burmese people.

From today, this new house begins to function as the main CERS office in Myanmar, with accommodations for our country manager, field scientist, local staff and visiting colleagues. Much of our expedition and scientific equipment have now been relocated from our boat to this new house. Front balconies on each floor offer an unobstructed view of the beautiful Mandalay sunset, and a back deck graces our morning wake up with a perfect sunrise.

Birds and squirrels are plentiful as the house is surrounded by tall mango trees. The songs of birds and the rhythm of the weaving machines create a most beautiful symphony to accompany us as we write or work over a map to plan our next expedition into the vast natural and cultural diversity of this wonderful ancient country.