Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kayin State

Mt. Zwekabin and Thanlwin (Salween) River

The Kayin State is mountainous region renowned for its limestone caves and beautiful scenery. The capital city is Hpa-An, approximately 270km from Yangon. It is easily accessible and a six hour drive from Yangon buses depart daily. It is also possible to access Hpa-An by road from kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock Pagoda).

It is a two storey building that displayed Kayin cultural and history and located near Kan Thar Yar Lake. In Museum, there has exhibits about the history of Kayin ethnic group, Kayin literature, culture and kayin musical instruments.

Mr. Zwekabin is located 11 km south of Hpa-An near Ka Lawk Nose village. It is a key landmark of Kayin State and its peak is 723 m above sea level. It is a three hour hike to the summit where one can enjoy breathtaking views of Hpa-An and the surrounding areas.

Bayinnyi cave is situated 19 km from Hpa-An. The cave is approximately 20 meters in length and has an ancient pagoda with many Buddha statues inside. On the hillside of the cave there is a natural hot and cold spring.

Kawgoon is a natural limestone cave and is located 35meter above sea level on the western bank of Thanlwin River in Hpa-An. It is famous for its Mon cultural style clay Buddha images and terracotta votive tablets in its interior walls. This cave dates back to the later Bagan period (13th century AD). This can be seen in the carved statues, sandstone Buddhist statues, the mural paintings and the ink and carved Mon inscriptions.

Sadan Cave is situated in the southern part of Zwekabin mountain range. It is approximately 32km south of Hpa-An . The cave is 107meters in length and 40meters in width with the entrance being the widest part of the cave. Natural stones, rocks, stalactites and stalagmites can be found in the cave.

Myawaddy is one of the Thai-Myanmar Border gateways. It is the link from Myanmar to Maesot in Thailand via Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge which passes over the Thaungyin River (Moei River). Myawaddy is also located on the ASEAN-India Highway Road. The area has been developed for tourism and cross-border trade with Thailand and many tourists use this as a gateway.
Myanmar-Thai Border Gate @ Myawaddy Township
Historic Kawgoon Cave
Kyaukkalat Pagoda
Fisherman @ the Sadan Cave
Kayaking between the paddy fields
Inside the Sadan Cave
Historic monument at the Kawgoon Cave
The view of Thanlwin (or) Salween River from Shwe Yin Myaw Pagoda, Hpa-An

Monday, September 26, 2016

Places To Visit In Mon State, Myanmar

Public Transportation in Mawlamyaing
Mon State is situated between Kayin State and the Gulf of Mottama. It has a short border with Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province. The Dawna range runs along the eastern side of the state and also has some small islands. The capital of the state is Mawlamyaing.

Getting To Mawlamyaing
There are regular express coach services to Mawlamyaing from Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay. Mawlamyaing can be accessible by train from Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw.

Mawlamyaing, Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (also known as Golden Rock), Thaton, Thanbyuzayat War Memorial death railway, Setse Beach and Kyaikkami Yele Pagoda.

KYAIKHTIYO – The Golden Rock Pagoda
Located 160 km from Yangon, this legendary Pagoda is renowned for its golden rock precariously perched. The pagoda is situated on a rocky mountain at 1100 meters above sea level and is an 11 km hike from the base camp. The pagoda is said to have been built during the life-time of Buddha some 2600 years ago. There are many options for transport and accommodation at Kyaikhtiyo.

Mawlamyaing was the first capital of the former British Empire and it was a major teak port from 1827 to 1852.

It is a two storey building that displayed Mon cultural and history. The modest collection of the museum, scales with Mon inscriptions, hundred year old sculptures of wood, ceramics, thanaka grinding stones, silver betel boxes, laquerware and folding manuscripts an English language letter dated 22 December 1945 from Bogyoke Aung San to U Chit Hlaing, a prominent Mon Leader, are displayed downstairs and reading rooms are upstairs.

Kyaikthanlan pagoda is one of the three famous pagodas build on Mawlamyaing Ridge. A hair relic of Buddha, Tripitaka manuscripts and gold images of Buddha have been enshrined and erected in 875 A.D. Successive kings raised the pagoda higher, from 17 meters to the present 46 meters. A big bell with a medieval Mon inscription and also another bell with an inscription in English, dated 30th March 1885 can be seen on the platform. Great place to enjoy the sunset.

Gaungsay Kyun is also known as “Shampoo Island”, during the Inwa (Ava) period, royal hair washing ceremony was held yearly by the water taken from a spring on this island. It is situated in northern-western end of Mawlamyaing and a good place to picnic. This island can access by boat.

Kyaikkami, located 9 km northeast of Thanbyuzayat, was a small coastal resort and missionary center known as Amherst during the British era. The main focus of Kyaikkami is Yele Paya, a metal-roofed Buddhist shrine complex perched over the sea and reached via a long two-level causeway; the tower level is submerged during high tide. Other attractions here are the colonial buildings that are about 100 years old.

Situated from 24 km south of Kyaikkami and 16 km southwest of Thanbyuzayat. This wide, brown-sanded beach tends towards tidal flats when the shallow surf-life recedes at low tide. The beach is lined with waving casuarinas trees.

It is located 24 km south east of Mawlamyaing. The main Buddha image sits in the position of the legs hanging down as if sitting on a chair. Therefore, the temple is famous for the Buddha which is sitting in the “western manner” and it is also well known for its hundreds of beautiful glazed tiles.

Phaauk Meditation Centre was established by monk U Kemarwutnare in 1925. In 1997, meditation camps are opened in Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, U.S.A, South Korea, England, India and Germany. Foreign monks have come and strived to Buddha doctrine since 1990. This center is very famous for its Buddhist meditation technique.

This church was founded by Reverend Adoniram Judson, an American Baptist Missionary, who translated the Bible into Myanmar and compiled an English-Myanmar dictionary. It is Myanmar’s first Baptist Church and situated on the corner of upper Main Road and Jetty Road in Mawlamyaing.

THAN BYU ZAYAT – Death Railway
Thanbyuzayat is 30 km south of Mawlamyaing. It was the western terminus of the infamous “death railway” by the thousands of Allied prisoners of war. A kilometer west of the clock tower in the direction of Kyaikkami lies  the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, which contains 3,771 graves of Allied prisoners of war who died as building the railway. Most of those buried were British and there are also markers for American, Ductch and Australian soldiers. This Death Railway is 415 kilometer (258 miles) long between Bangkok, Thailand and Myanmar to support Japanese forces in the Myanmar campaign.

Thahton is said to be the original capital of the Mons but now that distinction has shifted to Mawlamyaing. However, Thahton still boasts some historical links. There are remnants of an old city wall with the shrine of a Bagan hero, Byatwi, who become a Nat (Spirit) after being killed by the lord of the town when he fell in love with the governor’s beautiful daughter. Now he is regarded as the guardian of the town and people come here to pray.
Famous Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (also known as Golden Rock)

Win Sein, biggest reclining buddha in Myanmar

Death railway

Nowaday, Thanbyuzayat Station

Kyaikmaraw Pagoda

Phaauk Meditation Centre

Setse Beach

Strand Road, Mawlamyine

Kyaikkami Yele Pagoda

First Baptist Church in Mawlamyine

Mosque in Mawlamyaing

Panoramic view from Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, Mawlamyine

Sunday, September 18, 2016

World Heritage Listed Pyu Ancient Cities

Map of three UNESCO Recognized Ancient Pyu Cities
Three of the Pyu ancient cities are the first site in Myanmar being inscribed on the World Heritage List during the 38th Session of World Heritage committee held in Doha of Qata, in June 2014. It is comprised of three brick walled and moated cities of Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra in the vast irrigated landscape of the dry zone in Ayeyarwady river basin. They represent the Pyu Kingdoms that were prosperous for over a thousand year between BC 200 and AD 900. These three sites have been partially excavated revealing palace citadels, burial grounds, early industrial production sites, brick Buddha Stupas and water management features.

Halin City
How to get there
It is located on the road side of Mandalay – Shwebo road and drive 129 km from Mandalay. It is easily accessible by road. The trip took about 2.5 hours drive by passing Sagain. It is remarkable large, 3.2 km from north to south and 1.6 km from east to west. Halin Pyu Ancient City was founded the most abundantly evidence of pre-urban prehistoric habitation.

Religious Building
The most prominent features of this square shape building are the standing stone slabs. The stones are erected in 3 rows on the northern, eastern and southern interior wall. This structural remain are sophisticated forms of stone and brick ritual structures. It is also unique evidence for assimilation of Buddhism with traditional beliefs in Pyu Ancient Cities.

Palace Citadel
One excavation site unearthed a huge Assembly Hall with a brick platform and 84 wooden pillars. Artifacts such as pottery, terracotta beads and semi-precious stones were found here. The interior has the walls of platform, earthern rampacts of a reservoir and a well.
Stone Inscription Shed
There are 21 stone slabs in it; 3 slabs are inscribed in Pyu Language and others in old Myanmar Language.

Burial Ground
This is located in the southern part of the city. Excavations have revealed evidence of certain burial practices such as orientating the head to the north, burial of Jewellarys pottery. According to the buried skeletons existing in depths of layer by layer, this graveyard might have been used for successive periods datable to 2000 to 5000 before present (BP).

Beikthano City
The ancient brick – walled city is shaped more nearly like a square. The brick fortified walls encompass the city area on the north, east and south sides but the western wall has not yet been confirmed by archaeological excavation. The whole walled area of the city is some 900 hectares.
Palace & Storage
One of the distinctive characteristics of the Pyu Cities is the presence of a sizeable central palace – citadel. A rectangular structure, containing five small and one medium sized chamber, was found and is also thought to be storage facilities.
Religious Architecture
All these structural remains are clearly identified to religious architecture of Buddhism and this proves that Buddhism was here since more than 1500 years ago.

Beikthano Archaeological Museum
It has established since 2008. Beikthano Archaeological Museum arranges and displays orderly with Criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv) of Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage Identity. Museum exhibits the exposed objects from excavation at Beikthano, collections of surrounding area and modeling the some unique structural remains from Beikthano Pyu Ancient Cities.
Burial Urns with Structure Remains
It is a unique cultural identity of Pyu Ancient Cities: Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ketra. This archaeological evidence firmly identified as the interchange of Buddhism in Pyu Ancient Cities. This strong Pyu cultural tradition reflects the tangible evidence of life after death, religious practice and skill of craftsmanship in Pyu society.

Sri Ksetra City
How to get there
This city is approximately 5 miles southeast of Pyay and can be accessed by road. It can also be accessed by rail from Yangon. Twice as large as Halin and the most elaborately constructed, Sri Ksetra is considered as the most important & influential of the ancient cities.

The Massive Stupas
The date of these stupas can be attributed to 6th-7th century AD. As the remaining architecture, Bawbawgyi stupa is the earliest Buddhist monument among the existing of Myanmar. The two below have the unique conical shape and style was significantly transformed in architectural development of Bawbaw Gyi.

Palace Site
Other aspects of Pyu cultural heritage are both accessible and impressive. The Pyu had already mastered three important aspects of ancient economic life: water control, brick-making, and iron-working. Near the center of each Pyu city lays a well – fortified citadel or palace city. The palace has an enclosing moat linking many radiating and concentric canals.

Religious Architecture
There are found religious architectures in Mathigya Gone that were the one of elaborated architectural style of Pyu era.
The Pyu architecture greatly influenced later Myanmar Buddhist temple designs. Temples at Sri Ksetra such as the Be Be and Laymyethna were prototypes for the hollow temple of Bagan. They are attributed the later Pyu era.

Sri Ksetra Archaeological Museum
This Museum systematically displays cultural artifacts such as large stones burial urns with Pyu inscriptions, Pyu Buddha Image, Brahmanical Statues, terracotta votive tables and figurines, Pyu silver coins, beads and other objects.
There were also specialists in rituals concerning death. At all three large Pyu cities, massed urn burials were assimilated into Buddhist practice meshed with local mortuary custom. In total, the urn burials found at Sri Ksetra are probably more numerous than at any other sites.
Halin First Capital of Pyu City

Burial Urns

Burial Urns Structure in Beikthano

Stone Inscription Shet

Ruin Palace Site

Early Style of Stupa
Early style of temple
The art of Ancient Pyu

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Burmese Way

Myanmar Family
The Burmese pride themselves on proper etiquette. Public displays of excessive emotion, whether prompted by anger or by love, are frowned on. Elders and others of a higher status, such as monks, should be addressed and treated with courtesy. It is considered rude, for instance, to pass things over the heads of seated elders. To show respect to grandparents, parents and teachers on formal occasions, the Burmese kneel down with their foreheads and elbows touching the ground. When passing a pagoda or meeting a monk, they put their palms together in a gesture of reverence.
Burmese people are also very sensitive about imposing on, or inconveniencing, other people. The fear of embarrassing others is called anade (AH-nar-Del). If you asked a Burmese guest what drink you could serve him or her, your guest would probably say, “Anything is fine” to avoid embarrassing you by asking for something you might not have.

Close-Knit Families
Burmese households often consist of three generations. If family members do not live in the same house, they usually live near each other and visit often. Children learn to share and to participate in family life at an early age. Siblings and cousins often share bedrooms. Children take part in all social occasions, apart from funerals. In rural areas, they often run small errands for adults or help out in the fields. All children are expected to respect and obey not only their parents but all their elders. They are also expected to take care of their aged parents.

Men and Women
In Buddhism, men have a higher status than women – Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and a woman has to hope that, in her next life, she is reborn as a man.
The husband is considered the spiritual head of the Burmese household because of his hpon (PONE), or spiritual status. In public, women let men take the lead, often walking behind their husbands or fathers. At home, however, a husband usually hands his earnings over to the wife, who manages the family budget and often runs her own small business, too.
Women are excluded from certain areas of religious buildings, such as the middle platform of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Despite the hierarchy of Buddhism, however Burmese women have a quiet self-confidence that comes from a tradition of independence. At a time when many women in other parts of the world had no legal rights, a Burmese woman could choose whom to marry, even if her parents disagreed. She could divorce her husband by putting her case before the village elders, and if her complaints were fair, her request would be granted. Today, just as in the past, a woman keeps the money and property brought into a marriage. If she divorces, she keeps not only what was hers before marriage but also her share of any money or property in the family business. Women also have equal rights of inheritance with men. They dominate the markets as traders of goods or food vendors. Today, there are many women in professional occupations, too, working as doctors, dentists, lawyers, writers, teachers, and scientists. At universities in Myanmar, female enrollment equals that of males.
Walking men in downtown of Yangon

Myanmar women at home

Most popular country side ladies game in Myanmar

Popular sport for men