The setting of legendary author George Orwell’s famous novel, Burmese Days, is the “fictional” town of Kyauktada, which lies on Myanmar’s greatest river, the Ayeyarwady. In his story, Orwell portrays life in a remote 1920s town ruled over by the British Colonial authorities as well as the local Burmese military officials.

In truth, Kyauktada was not entirely fictional. Orwell served five years in Myanmar (then called Burma) as an officer in the Indian Imperial Police force. Two of these years (1926-1927) were spent in a district named Katha, and like the Burmese Days town of Kyauktada, was only reachable by river or a day’s train ride away.

The similarities did not end there – both towns were at the heart of the teak wood logging industry (the story’s main character, Flory, is a logger) and even featured buildings with the same name. Today, locations mentioned in the novel, including the police station, town jail, and the famed British Club, are still standing in Katha.

Orwell had started writing about Katha’s fictional counterpart just a year following his departure in 1928, and the novel was later published in 1934 to critical acclaim. And nearly 80 years after its release, the novel was chosen for the 2012 Burma National Literature Award’s “informative literature” (translation), the highest literary award in Burma.

Passengers on our 8-days/7-nights “Impressive Gorges” cruise have the opportunity to visit George Orwell’s residence as well as other British Colonial structures from this historical setting, with interesting insights from a local Katha guide.

7-night "Impressive Gorges" Map along the northern Ayeyarwady River

7-night “Impressive Gorges” Map along the northern Ayeyarwady River

 

Heritage Line Anawrahta has just one more departure to the exotic, northern reaches of the Ayeyarwady River in 2019! Save 30% on this final journey of the year (departing 17 November 2019), or 20% in one of our four “Impressive Gorges” departures in 2020 (October through November 2020).

 

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