Saturday, July 30, 2016

7 Wonders of Myanmar II

7 Wonders of Myanmar I continued:

 4. Inle Lake

The lake is one of Myanmar’s major tourist attractions and it’s easy to see why when you arrive there. It’s a huge freshwater lake that measures about 22 kilometers in length and 11 kilometers at its widest point on a good year.
The main attraction of the lake are boat tours that travel to the most famous pagoda in the area (Paung Daw Oo), old Monastery, a number of cheroot ( Myanmar cigars) rolling workshops, silversmiths and weaving shops.
Tourists have a number of accommodation options open to them depending on their budget, with cheapish guesthouses available in the closest town of Nyaungshwe, luxury hotels on the water or resorts in the hills around the edge.
Commodities produced
Owing to the different industries on the lake, visitors have many options regarding gifts to take back home from their trip including cheroots gold or silver jewellery or items of Shan clothing. However, excluding tourism, Inle Lake is famed for its tomatoes, which farmers cultivate on ingenious floating gardens.

5.  Mingun

About 11 kilometers along the Ayeyarwady River from Mandalay lies Mingun, which houses a perception-defying brick pagoda, the Mingun Bell and a host of other religious sites for visitors to explore.
Construction of the Mingun Pagoda was initiated by King Bodawpaya in 1790, the same ruler who sacked Arakan and removed the Mahamuni Buddha image in Mandalay. Intended to soar as high as 150 metres into the air, work on the pagoda, built using bricks, stopped when the king died in 1819. An earthquake in 1838 killed any chance the site could be restarted and left huge cracks in the structure. Nevertheless, you can still walk up today.
Nearby the Mingun Bell, a vast 90-tonne bronze bell commissioned by King Bodawpaya in 1808.

Commodities Produced
Mingun is noted for the particularly aromatic and nicely coloured Thanaka produced in the area. The white or cream-coloured Thanaka paste is used by people as an all purpose cosmestic, sunscreen lotion and skin cream countrywide and is made by grinding the thin trunk of a tree and mixing it with water.

6.  Mrauk U  
The old Arakan (now Rakhine) citadel of Mrauk U was the seat of the Arakan kingdom at the height of its glory in the early to mid 1500s and was known as a cosmopolitan trading city with links to the Middle East, Asia and even parts of Europe.

While little of the old city stands today, it’s still an amazing place to behold and can easily be considered a viable competitor to Bagan. Like Bagan, Mrauk U’s major attraction is Buddhist temples, although the number on show is far fewer than the more popular Bagan. For visitors who make the journey via Sittwe and a 6 or so hour boat ride up the Kaladan River, the payoff is a scarcity of other tourists. The temples are spread across a hilly expanse, which makes for perfect sunset and dawn photographs.
Mrauk U’s bigger temples, Shitthaung and Kothaung, meaning 80,000 and 90,000 in Myanmar language respectively and referring to the number of Buddha images said to be therein, evoke memories of the Indiana Jones movies, particularly deep within the structures where there is very little light and the images take on an eery presence.
Commodities Produced
Farmers in the areas around Mrauk U grow and harvest a miniature potato that is famous across the country and can even be found in Yangon sometimes.

7.  Ngapali Beach

Barely an hour by flight from Yangon on the coast of Rakhine State lies Ngapali beach, Myanmar’s very own white sand seaside getaway. Gentle waters, top-class resorts and a smorgasbord of local restaurants round out the picture and make a trip to area a final destination for many visitors.
For foreign visitors, a trip to Ngapali is strictly a fly-in, fly-out operation – catching the bus is a special effort that should only be attempted by the hardiest of travelers.
Activities during the day include boat trips to nearby islands and uninhabited beaches, snorkeling, fishing, walks along the beach or visits to the town of Thandwe by car, bus or motorcycle, which can be easily arranged by the hotels or restaurants. Or you could just relax on a chair and read a good book and admire the scenery.
Commodities produced
Souvenirs made from beautiful shells are readily available in the shops in front of resorts along the beach.

7 Wonders of Myanmar I
1.  Shwe Dagon Pagoda
 When describing the golden stupa that for many people defines Yangon, it’s hard not to repeat what many others have already written or said. Perhaps the most entertaining thing about visiting the great pagoda for someone who’s been there more than once, is bringing somebody who hasn’t seen it to watch their reaction: eyes boggle, jaws drop and breath is sharply inhaled. The 330-foot-plus gilded stupa is a must-see for anybody seeing Yangon for the first time but remember to bring 8,000 kyats (local currency) for the entry fee. Also, keep in mind that the pagoda is a deeply religious site that holds special meaning for Myanmar’s Buddhists – dress and act respectfully. Getting to Shwe Dagon is very easy – just say the magic word “Shwe Dagon”, and any cab driver will take you there.
Commodities Produced
As the country’s most important religious site, Shwe Dagon Pagoda is literally ringed by people selling all manner of Buddhist artifacts, articulated dolls, books, bells, art works, fans and so much more.

2. Bagan

In many ways Bagan is the equal of Cambodia’s ancient city of Angkor Wat. But where the temples at Angkor are relatively closely packed, the pagodas and relics at Bagan are scattered far and wide across a 42-square kilometer plain that includes thousands of sites. Bagan is also well developed as a destination by Myanmar’s standards and is serviced by its own airport, as well as boats linking it to Mandalay via the Ayeyarwady River. Visitors can choose to hire a bicycle, electric bike, car or ox-cart to explore the many varied temples in the area. You can also choose to visit the temple atop Mt.Popa, which is an hour drive from Nyaung U.
Commodities Produced
The artisans and craftsmen of Bagan produce a wide range of tourist artworks and knick-knacks including sand paintings, lacquer ware and ornate screens made from carved wood.

3. Kyaikhtiyo (also known as Golden Rock)

Home of the stunning Golden Rock, Mt Kyaikhtiyo is a fascinating addition to the country’s list of Buddhist sites. However, it is in many ways a unique attraction that offers a range of different activities that will appeal to Buddhists and non-Buddhist alike.
Kyaikhtiyo is one of the major tourist destinations in Mon State and is an easy five hour bus ride from Yangon. The bus stops in the little town of Kinpun at the base of the mountain. Visitors have two options: climb the mountain on foot for about 7 hours via an 11-kilometre uphill hike or take an hour trucks that cost 2,500ks each and climb most of the way to the top.
At the summit of the mountain there are several hotels that foreigners are permitted to stay in. Beyond lies a checkpoint where you must pay a 6,000ks entry fee and then a ridge along the mountain with pilgrim rest houses, monasteries and of course, the Golden Rock.
The rock itself is entirely coated with gold, which has been lovingly applied sheet by sheet by male visitors-women are not allowed onto the platform- and rests on a rock ledge, seemingly defying gravity.
Commodities Produced
Mon State is renowned for its rubber plantations, which is consumed locally or exported abroad. The state is also a big producer of delicious cashew nuts. However, Kyaikhtiyo is famous for the pepper grown on the mountainside and in surrounding areas.