Highway over speed driving 1905 cars-taken action

By – MIN HEIN HTET ( MYANMAR )             4 – November – 2013

The case of taking legal action counted up to near­ly 2000 cars for driving at a high speed more than the restricted speed onYan­gon-Mandalay Highway , as per the Highway Traffic Police. Ongoing cars were checked by Redflex so as to reduce the number of the road accident caused by the over speed or high speed driving on the Highway.

“By the use of Redflex ( Car speed checking device), 1915 cars were taken legal action for their over speed driving,” said lieutenant SoeXVin of the Highway Traffic Police Force.

Such precaution actions as checking of the cars on the highway by using Redflex , putting up the Traffic signal signposts, traffic direction signposts and warning signposts not to drive more than the restricted speed are in process , there are still many car drivers who do not obey the traffic rules and regulations.

Since 1st April, the legal action has been taken against the car drivers who drive the cars more 100 kilometer ( per hour ( restricted speed) by the use of Redflex. So, about 2000 cars were taken into legal action within the 7 months.

These cars sent up to the Traffic Rules and Reg­ulation Courts for trials in such places as Court of lam in Insein, Yangon Region, Court of Law in Zabuthiri township, Naypyay Taw and another court in Man­dalay. As penalty charges, they had to pay K-31,500 at Yangon and Mandalay and 1,500 at Nay Pyi Taw Council area.

“Since the highway is a concrete road, most drives fill up the tyres with nitrogen before the trip. The tyres can blast on the concrete road if they fill up the tyres as usual due to the high pressure. If the road is tar-road, the air pressure can’t rise due to the gravity of the tar-road. Most drivers drive with great precaution to avoid the accidents,” said one taxi driver from the car rental service.

This Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay Highway was constructed on the ba­sis of State budget without taking any international financial aids. As a joint effort of the Ministry of Construction and the local engineers, it took six years to complete the construc­tion of 366 miles 6 furlong.

Since the opening ofYangon-Nyi Pyi Taw-Man‑ dalay Highway in March 2009 to Oct 22, 2013, there were 478 road accidents resulting 284 causalities and 1092 injuries, learnt from Highway Traffic Po­lice Office.

Ygn-NPT Highway was built on 10 Oct, 2005, com­pleted on 3 March 2009 and put into service on 25 March 2009. Ygn-Mdy Highway was built in July 2008, completed in Dec, 2011. If any accident or emergency case happens, you can inform ph: 067­810087 and 09-4324126, the Highway Police Office for any help, learnt from the Highway Police Office.

Source – The Traveller journal

Unfavourable weather postpones hot-air balloon flying schedule


Hot-air-balloon ride schedule at Mandalay, Mandalay Region has been postponed from 25 October 2013 to the second week of November, said Oriental Ballooning Myanmar Company.

Due to the bad weather condition, it is not ready to fly hot-air-balloon ride in the assigned October so the schedule is delayed like this, said Operation Director Daw Ni Ni Khine, Oriental Ballooning Myan­mar Company.

” Because of poor weath­er condition, test hot-air-balloon flying took place two times from 16 to 25 October. For passenger’s safety, we put off the date,” revealed Daw Ni Ni Khine.

6 ordered hot-air-bal­loons to fly are 4 big ones and 2 small ones to offer flying service. The big ones can take 8 passengers and the small is for 4 passen­gers.

” The aim of hot-air-bal­loon flying schedule is to enjoy a viewpoint of Man‑ dalay-by taking sky ride,” she continued to say.

Such flying schedule will be started from Mandalay. The flying schedule will be extended to Bagan and Inlay Lake.

,,              we have bought 12 bal­loons. Currently, we offer service with 6 balloons. We have ordered 6 bal­loons. Only 4 arrived. 2 will come by flight soon. After another balloons arrival, we will give service balloon flying to Bagan and Innlay region,” said the responsi­ble person from Oriental Ballooning Myanmar Company.

Pilots holding hot-air-balloon driving licence from US drive balloons with guaranteed security, said the above person.

Families and pairs can take the balloon ride. The company arranges life insurance for every rider, according to the source of Oriental Ballooning Myan­mar Company.

Source : The Traveller journal

Tazaungmon: The (month of Tazaungdaing Festival

By – MAUNG KHINE ZAW          4 – November – 2013

TAZAUNGMON  is   the  eight  month   of    Myanmar Lunar Calender which coincides with November . The Lighting festival of Tazaungmon or Tazaung­daing Festival is annually held on the full-moon dayof Tazaungmon and thedays before and after. Itcomes exactly one month after Thadingyut Festival.Tazaung ” mean Light” or “taing” pillar.Hence the pillar of lights.

The significance of the Lighting festival is theoffering of sacred yellow robe (Kahtain Thingan )to the Sangha (Buddhist monk) and The Lord Buddha. The offering of these sacred yellow robeto the Sangha has been traditionally observed by successive generations up to present day. It originat­ed in Gautama’s own time in Northern India. It will be recalled that on one summer day, thirty Sangha of BuddhaWaggi Brothersleft their birth place known as “Power Province” to make obeisance to our Lord Buddha , who reside din ” Savatti Province” somefifteen yuzanars away.Their journey to Savattiwas very slow becausethey practiced meditationsen-route. They took rest ata town known as “Thar­keta” during the lent. Just after the end of the lent they went on to Savatti .But they were caught in a downpour of heavy rain on the way.Yellow robes worn by them were soaked with rain, and dirty with mud and sand. Having no extra robes to wear, they approached the Buddhaand paid obeisance to him,still in their drenched con­dition. Gautama Buddha,having seen the destitution of his disciples, allowed the offering of yellow robes to Sangha every year after the lent. Since then the Kahtain robe offering cer­emonies have been held annually.

The month of Tazaung­mon become a sanctified season owing to their offering of yellow robe beginning from the first waning day of Thadingyut and ending on the full-moon day of Tazaungmon.The yellow robe offered in this season are called Kahtain Thingan”, a special and seasonal donation – monks are allowed to receive under the Vinaya Law . On the day of offering the gifts tied to movable stand called Pa­detha tree are lined up in procession ; accompanied by do bat(drums)music and dancing brought to the chosen monastery and offered to the monk in ceremony.

It so happened that the Buddha’s mother, reincar­nated in Tavatimsa (Celes­tial abode ), perceived from there that her son on earth would soon be dis­carding the royal robe and wearing a monk garment. The mother incarnate wanted to offer a yellow robe to her son on his en­try to monk hood and there was barely time enough for it. But the mother Deva had it woven overnight and offered it by a celetial messenger to her son. In memory of their religiously significant event , the Bud­dhist people of Myanmar organize many teams to compete in weaving a piece of yellow robe for the Buddha on the eve of the full-moon day of Tazaung­mon. There is always keen competition among young girls who would feverish­ly weave on their looms enough cloth for a piece of yellow robe. They would cut the cloth into pieces and have them stitched up into a garment, ready for the•offering by dawn. The weaving of yellow robes must be completion is tak­en as a failure. The yellow robe so obtained is there­fore called “.Mathothin­gan” (Matho, not stale , Le fresh Thingan, the monk’s yellow robe ). The offering of Mathothigan to the Buddha Image is annually celebrated on a grand scale on the platform of the great Shwedagon Pagoda.

The month of Tazaung­mon being a very favor­able season for night long amusements , the theat­rical performance of sats and other entertainments area common feature .

The night — long festivities are held on the platform of the Great Shwedagon and other prominent pagodas in Yangon, to which devo­tional offering of electric lights are made. Many devotees offer “soon” with fruits and other eatables to the Buddha Image before dawn. Street lighting with various entertainment are the common scene in Yangon, while the government offices, the public build­ings, the cinema halls and the parks are also ablaze with lights of various colours.

According to one version of the legend, it is belived that on this full-moon night all curative proper­ties of herbal flora are con­centrated in Me Zali tree. Its tender leaves, buds and blooms are edible. Myan­mar treatises on herbal medicine prescribed that Me Zali is medicinal. So Myanmar people eat slightly bitter but appe­tising Me Zali salad made out of its boiled buds, and leaves, seasoned with in­gredients like peanut; fried garlic, seasamun, fresh peeled onions, cooking oil and salt. Me Zali soup with fish, pounded roasted rice powder and pepper in the favourite dish of the Myanmar people.

On this full-moon night there is an amusing festival known as “Kyee Ma-no festival”. Its literal meaning is a performance carried out by male youths before crows wake up. At the mid­night of Tazaungnion full-moon day male youths, individually or in groups, steal anything found in the house compound or backyard (not from inside the house) — pots, pans, clothing, baskets, skirts, brassieres, underwears etc. and leave them at public places and road crossings. Skirts, brassieres , and underwears are hung up on the trees . The next day morning everyone is amused and moved to laughter to see the owners searching for their missing properties. Male youths laugh heartily when the old ladies come out from their houses to search for their skirts, brassieres and underwears stolen last night.

Source : The Traveller journal

Set up an office to open tourist guide training in Mon/ Kayin State

By – HMUE EIN ZAW – MON(MYIT MA KHA)             4 – November – 2013

Since late 2011, more and more tourists are coming to Mon State and Kayin State but there are not enough tourist guides. Thus, Myanma Tour Guides Association (Mon/ Kayin Zone) office was set up to open training cours­es for tourist guide with the aim to promote the number of trained tourist guides.

The local populace who are interested in the job can join the course and so that they can assist the tourists to enjoy the trip at ease and convenience during the whole trip.

Myanmar Tourist Guide Association office was established and opened near Mon Hall, Dai”‘un Kwin Road, Mawlamyine on 26 Oct.

” More and more tourists come and visit Mon and Kayin State in late 2011. But the problem was not having enough guides to provide. Now, the local people from this area who are interested in tourist guide job can come and contact our office. Then, our office will inform the related ministry to open the tourist guide course here,” said the chairman of Myanma Tour Guides Association (Mon/ Kayin Zone) U Tun Min Aung.

The ministry will issue the tourist guide licence to those who have completed the training so that it will increase the job prospects of the local populace. It will also facilitate the tourists in their visit and boom the local economy more, he continued to say.

Furthermore, hotels and guesthouses will be jointed for global tourists to be ease and smooth and after emerging skilled tour guides, tourism industry will be fruitful.

” It creates opportunity for local people. We have friends who wanted to be tour guides. But we had

no idea how to join the job and faced difficulty. When our country becomes transparent, tourist entry is flowing with momentum,” said Mon State local youth.

There are many tourist destinations in Mon State and Kayin State. Kyite Thee Yoe Pagoda in Mon State attracts tourist. Mon State government is upgrading beaches like Sett Se’ Beach. Meanwhile, Me’ Souk­Mawlamyine direct flight is underway to ply.

Source : The Traveller journal


Myanmar’s ancient temple city faces modern –danger

4 – November – 2013

BAGAN, Oct 6 —The spires of Bagan have survived wars, earthquakes and centu­ries of tropical sun, but in recent years Myanmar’s ancient capital has faced a distinctly modem threat—scaffolding and cement.

The temples, some of which are around 1,000 years old, are one of the country’s most treasured religious sites and a top at­traction for foreign tourists flocking to the country as it emerges from decades of military rule.

While many have largely withstood the ravages of man and nature, haphaz­ard renovation work has also seen new temples uilt n the foundations

of crumbling structures, and experts say they bear little resemblance to the originals.

“Several hundred monuments have been completely rebuilt. It has obviously damaged the his­torical landscape,” architect Pierre Pichard, a former UNESCO consultant, told AFT!

“It is totally contrary to what is accepted intema­tionally in terms of good practice.”

Pichard helped restore the temples after a huge earthquake struck the region in central Myanmar in 1975, but was forced to leave the site in the early 1990s when the rulers ef­fectively closed the country to the outside world.

After asking Buddhists for donations, the junta then started rebuilding the temples, many of which were just piles of bricks.

Around 2,000 have so far been renovated, many with hastily done stone and plaster work, using bright orange bricks and other modern materials.

A huge number of trees have also been planted across the vast plain dotted with pagodas and temples.

“One of the charac­teristics of Bagan in the past was to be able to see hundreds of monuments in the middle of fields, and now we see them less,” said Pichard.

“These trees are an aberration in terms of the environment because the climate is very dry and they need to be watered during the dry season.

“Today new building works have been halted, but some structures are still being renovated, and archaeologists have been allowed back into the country to oversee the work.

Experts warn that much of the damage cannot be reversed, and could threaten Bagan’s chances of winning World Heritage status.



One engineer who worked at the site after the 1975 earthquake, but stopped when the foreign experts left, said a lot of the restoration work was done quickly and cheaply to maximize the profits of local building firms.

“People donated to get a close relationship to the generals,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.         “Most of the new recon­structions are by the road where they can be easily seen. Those in the center have been badly recon­structed, as no one visits them.”

‘We are waiting for the next earthquake. The new ones will fall down as they used very poor mortar.”Over the centuries, the buildings have deteriorat­ed in the tropical weather, been damaged by suc­cessive earthquakes and looted by light-fingered visitors.

“These pagodas were built a long time ago, and the rain water has man­aged to get between the bricks and damage them, so we are filling up the holes,” said U Kyain, who is overseeing restoration work on the roof of the Dhammayazika Pagoda.

In its heyday Bagan was one of the most important centres for learning in Asia, if not the world.The Burmese kings and rulers built thousands of temples, more than 3,000 of which are still standing today.

The structures are mostly built from brick, and over the years gold leaf roofs have been added to some.




Constructed in 1197 by King Narapatisithu, after he received four holy relics from the king of Sri Lanka, the Dhammayazika pagoda is one of the most impressive in * the whole of Bagan, and survived large­ly unscathed in the 1975 earthquake.

Since that fateful July day, U Kyain has helped re­build many of the temples.

“The people of the world might see the renovations as us destroying the orig­inal form of the ancient  The temples, some of which are around 1,000 years old, are one of the country’s most trea­sured religious sites and a top attraction for foreign tourists flocking to the country

monuments. Asa Buddhist in Myanmar, seeing these old piles of brick it is not graceful or respectful to Buddhism.

“The temples, ht added, are still in use by pilgrims who come to pray.

“The new generation of Buddhist people in Myan­mar renovate and rebuilt the pagoda to show their respect to the old people who built these pagodas and to express their emo­tion to Lord Buddha.

“The restoration work does not seem to put off visitors, who start arriving early each day as haze rises from the spires of thou­sands of temples against a backdrop of distant hills bathed in the morning sunlight.

More and more foreign­ers are coming every year, often passing the newly built structures to visit their more ancient neigh­bours.

And despite the contro­versial renovations, Bagan could still win World Her­itage status one day, said Tim Curtis, head of the culture unit at UNESCO’s office in Bangkok.

“Quite a bit of the res­toration would not have been what we would have recommended,” he told AFP .

But it was also important to recognize that Bagan —which is on a tentative list to be considered for the coveted status — is a living heritage site, he said. “These temples are places of worship. They are not just heritage sites or archaeological sites — they are living cultural expres­sions.” — AFP.

Historical archives

Daw Mya Sein Deft) participated in the the Burma Round Table Conference, London 1931.

Daw Mya Sein, born in 1904 in Moulmein, was of Mon and Arakanese stock. Her distinguished ca­reer typified the increasingly active role of wom­en in Burmese public life. Mother of two children, she had still found time to be headmistress of

several schools, editor and broadcaster, first woman elected to the Rangoon City Corporation, delegate to the London Round Table Conference of 1931 and the Paris UNESCO Conference of 1946, President of the National Council of Wom­en, and a leader in social work. She was Lecturer in history at Rangoon University and had made two lecture tours in the United Stales.

Soure : The Traveller journal

More-fixed-price-taxis to run during the Sea Games

By – NYAN NYAN (MYIT MA KHA)      4 – November – 2013

Taxi companies provide will provide Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw Highway Express lines and run taxi with fixed prices for the con­venience for the viewers who will enjoy the Sea Games events. It is learnt that more car will run for the long trip with special programme. Depending on the potential number of passengers who will go and views the sport and games matches in NPT during the Sea Games festival, more express buses will run between Yangon and NPT than the current programme under the special Sea Games schedules by the Highway Express lines. More cars are ordered to run during the Sea Games and the bus fares and the service will be the same although it will be a special pro‑ gramme during the Sea Games period, said the responsible person from Aung Mingalar Highway Station. Yaung Ni Oo company will provide100 taxis for the audience who will come and see th( seven sport matches at five stadiums.

Source : The Traveller journal

A Truly Asian experience with a diversity of clutures, colourful festiavals, beautiful beaches and meet the warm and friendly people,Interview With Malaysia Airlines

By – NAN NWE         4 – November – 2013



As Myanmar tourism is developed with momentum,tourists are flooding to Myanmar month after month and year after year Seeing mushroomed tour. is ts is a good sign for the country. To walk toward to developed and modern­ized country, it is a duty of citizens. Myanmar’s custom is to facilitate any visitor who comes to Myanmar for vacation or on business. Mean while transportation in our de­veloping country is better and more airlines which take passengers safe and sound to their destinationare needed. This week, theinterview with SuzannaShamsuddin, Area Man­ager Myanmar of Malaysiza Airlines established in Myanmar since 1996 ply­ing between Myanmar an( Malaysia is described for our readers.



A: Malaysia Airlines started its operation in November 1996,



Malaysia Airlines flies from Yangon to Kuala Lumpur twice daily.



Malaysia Airlines serves more than 60 destinations in almost 30 countries across Asia, Australasia, Middle East, Europe, and North America, including Oneworld hubs, Hong Kong, London Heathrow, Los Ange­les, Sydney and Tokyo Narita.



Its present fleet of 88 aircraft — including its flagship Airbus A380s — operates more than 250 departures a day.







From Yangon , passen­gers can fly to over 60 destinations and being part of One world , it also serves over 160 countries.



MH is currently running it 41st An­niversary promotion that offers attractive fares to almost all its destination until 20th November 2013



Malaysia Airlines flies from Yangon to KualaLumpur twice daily and connect to over 860 destinations across the world.




Ground Floor, Central Hotel, 335-357 Bo­gyoke Aung San Road, Yangon.



MH operates Boeing 738-800 from Yangon that serves 16 Business class and 144 Econo­my seats.



Passenger can visit Malaysia Airlines office at Ground Floor, Central Hotel, 335- 357 Bogyoke Aung San Road, Yangon or visit our Travel agents.



Yes , fares are all inclusive



RGN started its oper­ation back in Novem­ber 1996 with twice weekly operation. We increased our opera­tion gradually to 3X in 2003, 4X in 2004, 5X in 2006, 7X in 2010, I OX in March 2013 and double daily effec­tive Aug 2013



Malaysia. It offers a Truly Asian experience with a diversity of cultures, colorful festi­vals, beautiful beaches and meet the warm and friendly people.

Source : The Traveller journal

Euro, US$ and S$ in one Visa Multicurrency Travel Prepaid Card

By – PYING SIT THWAY MIN              4 – November – 2013

Visa is allowed to be used now not only for the convenience of tourists who come to Myanmar but also for local who are going abroad.

By using Visa, the local people can enjoy the ben­efits such as up-to-date payment system, more security for travellers on business than taking money or cheque along with them. In the same way, the vacation mak­ers can also draw money from ATM machine, buy things at shops and do the on-line purchase using the visa card. Thus, the use of prepaid card has become popular. This multi-cur­rency Travel Prepaid Card is the pioneer card which can be used three kinds of currency (Euro, US and. Singapore) with one card. It supplies the needs of the local people who have to go abroad. It helps to do shopping at over tens of millions of shops (online or in-store) (which accepts Visa service) and to draw money at 2 million ATM machines all over the world.

The current Visa is arranged through the joint co-operation of Myanmar Banks for the convenience of local people to use the very first Visa Multi-cur­rency Prepaid Card during their visit in foreign coun­tries. This acts as the major in foreign mile-stone for the progress of financial system in Myanmar. More­over, it opens the oppor­tunity of the world market to the local Myanmar who goes abroad on business or on vocation.

Nowadays, Visa card holders draw money from 250 ATM machines and make payment at 6000 shops in Myanmar.

By – The Traveller journal

More Buddhist Tourists entry to the iub-downtown-Yanqon Stile Pagoda

By – THURA        4 – November – 2013

It is learnt more and more tourists who are Buddhist devotees came and paid homage to Sule pagoda in the heart of metro Yangon than other months according to one of the board of Pagoda Trustees. From June to September, 2013 (during the rain retreat) about 7000 tourists came to the pagoda and most of them are from Thailand, China, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Nowadays, Buddhist tourists come to pay obei­sance the pagoda and they also do religious services like saying prayers and reciting Paritta in union. Most of them are Thai. He continued that many more Buddhist tourists are hoped to be coming to the pagoda in the coming open season from October to February. The entrance fees for the foreignersare just two dollars and local pilgrims can also pay homage to the Sule Pagoda daily.

Source – The Traveller journal

The improved sanitary facilities enable globe trippers more convenient Myanmar countryside visit

By – MYO WIN THU(MYANMAR)       4 – November – 2013

With the joint-effort of skilled engineers and ex­perts in water and sanitary facilities better means and ways are sought and ac­complished for providing improved sanitary facil­ities in 80 percent of the countryside in Myanmar, learnt from the responsible personnel from the minis­try of health.

Thus, globe tripper can now extend their visit to countryside as they do not find much problems regarding sanitary as before due to the improved sanitary facilities available in village, said one tourist guide who has been to countryside recently.

“We have to arrange trips to the country as some tourists want to learn the culture and lifestyle of the villages. The main problem was the toilet in the past and the availabil­ity clean water too before they go to bed. We have great problem when the village uses only lake water and when there is no toilet at all. However, out of their will, some tourists want to follow the practice natural­ly but the travel companies don’t let them do that way. Now, these problems are solved to a certain ex­tent. The living standard of every village has now improved and it is conve­nient to spend a night at a village, “the guide contin­ued to say.

It has been over 30 years that the health care department has carried out the 4-H Projects: water hygiene, food hygiene, personal hygiene and san­itary hygiene spreading to grassroots level at villages with the co-operation of local people.It is aimed to change the healthy habits of the local people through self-practice or propaga­tion.

When the artesian well was dug for the water sup‑ ply, it was learnt that their habits did not change. So, it can’t eradicate all the diseases just by building more toilets. It is under­stood now that these toilets will become the major disease transmis­sion places if it was not used hygienically. Now, many world organizations acknowledge the fact that it is necessary to enhance the hygienic living stan­dard of the society by the systematic use of clean toilets, water sources and proper maintenance.

Thus, many projects are underway on a large-scale to promote such knowl­edge of the people on sanitation and hygiene.

Without the practice of improved sanitary facilities and proper use. of water, more diseases can be transmitted. Thus, personal hygiene and food hygiene are included in 4-H projects, said a staff from Health Department.

Source : The Traveller journal

CB Bank issues EastTravel Master Card available in 210 countries

CEO of CB bank, U Kyaw Lin said that now East Travel Master Cards which can be used in 210 coun­tries for the payment and e-payment can be bought in all the CB branch banks both in Yangon and other towns.

The card can be used to UD$ 5000 maximum and the card user must have 20 dollars as the least balance. The card user can recharge the balance within hours.

East Travel Master Card is the rechargeable credit card and so Myanmar citizens can use this card when they go abroad.This card is launched in Myanmar as the pioneer electronic payment card for e-payment. The applicant of the card must pay 8000 kyats for applica­tion and 2 dollars for the monthly service charges’ The service charges for the money withdraw at foreiger ATM machines will be 3 dollars.

To use the card, the user has to wait only for 24 hours after paying mon­ey and then the card can be ready to use, said the responsible personnel of the CB bank.


Source – The Traveller journal

Bagan: Trip of a Lifetime

4 – NOVEMBER – 2013

SHWEZIGON PAGODA: Built in the 11 th cen­tury, this is the crowning pagoda of Bagan. Legend has it that the Buddha’s collar bone is enshrined inside. It’s worth exploring on foot and up close.

ANANDA TEMPLE: This is right up there with Shwezigon. This gleaming, golden temple was also built in the 11th century, but had to be rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1970s.

This is what we call Damayan Gyi Pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar. It’s famous for its great volume in shape and size. Myanmar old people said, this Damayan Gyi pagoda is the strongest one in its structure among Bagan pagodas and zedis.

rhis is what we call Damayan Gyi Pagoda in Sagan, Myanmar. It’s famous for its great rolume in shape and size. Myanmar old people aid, this Damayan Gyi pagoda is the strongest ine in its structure among Bagan pagodas and zedis.

The magnificence in white which is the Thatbyinnyu takes its name from the Omni­science of the Buddha. Thatbyinnyutanyan h Myanmar language, Sabbannutanana in Pali, omniscience is given further explanation in contemporary inscriptions as “knowing thor­oughly and seeing widely.”


Bagan in central Burma is one of the world’s greatest ar­cheological sites, a sight to rival Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat but — for the time being at least — without the visitors. The setting is sublime — a verdant 26 square-mile plain,

part-covered in stands of1palm and tamarind caught in a bend of the lazy-flowing Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) river and framed by the hazy silver-grey of distant mountains.

Rising from the plain’s canopy of green are temples, dozens of them, hundreds of them, beautiful, oth­er-worldly silhouettes that were built by the kings of Bagan between 1057 and 1287, when their kingdom was swept away by earthquakes and Kublai Khan and his in­vading Mongols. Some 2,230 of an original 4,450 temples survive, a legacy of the Buddhist belief that to build a temple was to earn merit.

Most are superbly preserved or have been restored by Unesco, among others, and many contain frescoes and carvings and statues of Buddha, big and small. Only a handful are regularly visited, and though tourist numbers are increasing and the hawkers are beginning to appear,this is still, by the standards of sites of a similar beauty andstature, a gloriously unsullied destination.

Bagan is hot most of the year. The best time to visit isbetween November and February, when temperatures hit30C (86F). Avoid March to May, when temperatures canreach 43C (11OF). OF). Rainfall is highest in Tune and October. If you can, visit during a full moon, a popular time for local festivals.


Burma is a difficult place in which to travel, especially independently. Now that Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLDparty have sanctioned responsible tourism, the recent surge of visitors has created its own problems, notably the inability of the nascent tourist industry to cope. Even reputable outside tour companies with many years’ expe­rience in the country-are struggling to guarantee rooms and services.

Old problems remain, namely the poor infrastructure;sudden travel restrictions; the almost total lack of ATMs and mobile phone and internet coverage; and the inabil­ity, in all but a handful of hotels and other businesses, to make payments by credit card.

Bagan is one of the areas in the country that has known visitors for some time, and in appreciable numbers, so the problems here are slightly less acute. At the same time, it’s the obvious target for the majority of new visitors.

All this means you should think carefully about trav­elling independently and that if you take a package (the recommended course), you book early with a company that has long experience of working in Burma.


Most tour operators offer Bagan as part of a longer Bur­mese itinerary, usually approaching Bagan by air, by river from Mandalay (recommended), or overland from Inle Lake. A minimum of one full day (two nights) is required. Alternatively, combine tours elsewhere with a shorter, self-contained river cruise between Bagan and Mandalay (or vice versa).

Check to see if your package includes a balloon flight over the temple site, a superb, if expensive way to see the temples.


Explore (08452914541; explore.co.uk), offers 12 Burma options, including a nine-day “Essential Burma” trip, including Bagan, from £1, 115 per person b & b, excluding international flights.


The main centre for the site, with the most hotel, eating and transport options, is Nyaung-U. Just over two miles west is tiny Old Bagan, a sleepy village whose inhabitants were forcibly moved in 1990 to the workaday New Bagan, about two miles to its south. Old Bagan is closest to the temples, and contains sights of its own, but if you are on a package the chances are that transfers will be provided wherever you stay.

A handful of the more popular temples see some coach tours and can become relatively busy, and will have ven­dors and children trying to sell you their drawings: this is especially true of Ananda Pahto, the single biggest draw, and Shwesandaw, the “sunset” pagoda, so-called because it is the one (with Buledi) most visitors climb to watch the sunset.

However, it is easy to take a bike, taxi or horse and cart to quiet areas of the site, especially the central plain, where you won’t see another soul and where there are dozens of other temples, such as Pyathada Paya, full of murals and statues of Buddha, or which you can climb undisturbed to watch the sunrise or sunset.


The best initial way to see the temples is from a hot-air balloon. The roughly 45-minute flights leave at dawn and drift over much of the site, with glorious views of the river and distant mountains, hazed by mist, as well as a bird’s-eye view of the temples and rural village life. Sunset flights

are also available.

Balloons Over Bagan (00951 652809; easternsafaris.  corn) is a privately owned Burmese (but British-run) com­pany, and its balloons are state-of-the art and operated by highly experienced UK crew, along with ground and other staff recruited from the area.

Prices are $330 (£217) per person and flights can sell out many months in advance. Flights run roughly mid-Octo­ber to mid-March, not year-round, and are weather de­pendent and cannot be guaranteed to operate. Bookings will be refunded. Visitors taking package or tailor-made tours should ensure bookings are made for them. Stand­by tickets are available if you arrive without a booking.




The temple site is too big to explore on foot, but is well suited to being seen by bike, being Criss-crossed by gravel roads and paths. Most hotels in all three centres rent out bicycles. Hire a guide if you are worried about becom­ing lost, or want to see some of the best out-of-the-way

Jfto temples. Guides will know where to find the key-holders for locked temples, though many temples are always open and access to most, for the time being at least, is simple.

You can explore at a more sedate pace from one of the area’s 250-odd horse carts that congregate at the larger or more central temples. Most drivers speak a little English and, again, can act as guides to less-visited parts of the site. Ask at your hotel for the latest going rate and fix the price and duration of the trip beforehand.


A visa (£14) is required for Burma. There is talk of a visa-on-arrival scheme, and the embassy website (myan-. marembassy.com/english/visa.htm) alludes to this pos­sibility, but in practice you should apply for a visa before travelling in consultation with your tour operator or a visa agent such as Travcour (020 8543 1846; travCOur.com), which can arrange visas, usually in five working days, for £40 plus the £14 visa charge. Contact it before downloading or submitting any forms.

Visit the embassy website for requirements and to download the application form. Postal processing can take up to four weeks; or you can apply in person in the UK at the country’s Mayfair embassy. Beware the pletho­ra of websites, some purporting to be official “embassy” sites, offering visa services.

Heed the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice (gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/burma). At the time of writing, it advises against all but essential travel, among other places, to the towns of Meiktila, Tharzi, Wundin and Mahlaing, which are all in the vicinity of Mandalay and Bagan.

Burma has specific health concerns: polio, typhoid, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis (mosquito-borne), dengue fever (ditto), among others, are all present. Malaria is a risk outside main cities and below around 900m (3,000ft) so antimalarial tablets are essen­tial. Visit nathnac.org for a detailed assessment of health risks and how to reduce them.


Take plenty of cash. US dollars can always be used and exchanged but as the local currency (kyat) has appreciat­ed so it has become more attractive to local businesses.

Dollar notes should be as near pristine as possible, larger denomination notes are preferred, and you should exchange money in shops and hotels only.

Tipping is not widespread, but keep small denomi­nation (K50, K100 or K200) notes for donations in larger temples.

Dress conservatively. You may see a few locals wear­ing shorts in cities, but generally T-shirts and shorts are considered underwear and wearing them is seen as disrespectful.

Shoes and socks must be removed before entering temples and Burmese homes. You will not be admitted to temples with bare shoulders or knees.

Women are not admitted to some temples.

Steps to the upper terraces of most temples are incred­ibly steep, with no handrails, and can be a challenge for even the fittest and most agile visitors.

There are only a handful of tiny (but charming) ram­shackle cafes among the temples for refreshment, so take food and water.

Do not shake hands with, or touch monks and nuns. A small bow is the most appropriate greeting.

Tap water is not safe to drink.


Local trips if you are spending longer in Bagan include Mount Popa, a sacred mountain; Salay, 22 miles from Ba­gan, an active religious centre from the 12th century that also has numerous colonial-era buildings; and — unless you are already on a river cruise — one of the sunset or other short boat trips offered from the jetty at Nyaung-U.


Source : The Traveller journal

FEATURE REVIEW – The Lady and the Peacook

4 – NOVEMBER – 2013


BURMA has been in the limelight for the past few months. A number of reforms have been carried out b-N, the quasi-civilian government led by reformist President Thein Sein, including the release of political pris­oners and Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy being entering Parliament.

The response from the international community has also been rather opti­mistic with the easing of economic sanctions by the United States and Euro­pean Union. Many foreign companies including Gen­eral Electric and Coca Cola have made moves to invest in Burma.

And, of course, when people talk about Burma, it is impossible to leave out Suu Kyi, who spent much of the last two decades Linder house arrest.

In Burma, people throng to listen to her speeches and to catch. a glimpse of her visits. The Nobel Laureate’s picture is now regular features in Burma’s media—as if it guarantees increased sales—and also widely posted in social net­works such as Facebook.

Wherever Sun Kyi travels, she is embraced with warmth, love and admiration—not only by Burmese eople but also the international commu­nity. More than ever, she has become a global icon after being able to travel outside Burma for the first time to attend forums and officially accept her Nobel Peace Prize in Norway.

A number of books have been written about the 67-year-old and her role in Burma’s political struggle. The Lady and the Peacock by Peter Popham—the lat­est biography on Sun Kyi­takes on a more personal outlook of her life.

Popham includes journal entries of Ma Theingi who was Sun Kyi’s personal assistant and compan­ion during her arduous election campaign tour of 1989 and with whom she later fell out. Those journal entries were recorded. at the request of Michael Aris, Suu Kyi’s husband, and were made available to the author through an anony­mous friend.

By dividing the book into five parts—Suu, Kyi’s father Gen Aung San; her years growing up in India; her life in England; her involvement in Burmese politics from 1988 to 2002; and after 2002      Popham attempts to analyze Suu Kyi’s life and how her family background and the historical events in Burma have shaped who she is today.

He does a fine job of depicting the different stages of Sun Kyi’s life- from her formative years, to a student, then a housewife and finally an inspiration­al political leader for the Burmese people.

Many of Suu Kyi’s attri­butes are also excellently portrayed in the book: her sense of duty for being”her father’s daughter;” her strong morality regarding Burmese traditions and culture despite growing up in foreign countries; and her sense of discipline with her children.

Popham also describes her resolute determination and courage when sticking to her goals despite being subjected to physical and Peter popham (Author and journalist ).

mental hardships—the house arrest for most of her years in Burma; the denial of a visa to her dying hus­band; the brutal attack on her life in Depayin in 2003 when many of her sup­porters were killed trying to protect her.

Through interviews and comments made by Suu Kyi’s close friends in Oxford, rare snippets about her are included. Like many others in life, she studied a course in which she was not interested at the insistence of her strict mother and ended up with an underwhelming third class degree albeit at prestigious Oxford Univer­sity. Popham is such an ac­complished storyteller that most people will be caught up in his description andnarration about events in Suu Kyi’s life.

A list of references on articles and books, written about Burma and Suu Kyi, at the end of the biogra­phy indicates the level of extensive research Popham carried out. Yet, whenever he tries to provide an anal‑t ysis of events in Burma, as a Burmese person myself, I do not feel that he pos­sesses enough in-depth understanding about the myriad underlying issues in the country—the history of ethnic conflicts, nation­al reconciliation and the reform process, to name but a few.

In contrast, Bertil Lint­ner, a veteran journalist who has written seven books on Burma and has reported on Burmese is­sues for over two decades, is able to give a concise and yet thought-provok­ing analysis in his offering Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s struggle for de­mocracy.

Two critical points cast a black cloud over the credi­bitity of Popham’s book.First is a statement, in­cluded without any source, that now-retired Snr-Gen Than Shwe “admitted [to] ordering the massacre, with the aim of’eracticaing’ Aung San Suu Kyi.” Never has such admission been recorded and it is unimaginable for Than Shove to so brazenly make such a claim.

Second is Popham’s ac­cusation that Ma heingi was responsible for his repatriation from Burma during a visit. It seems that his close association with Michael Aris, who regarded Ma Theingi as being disloyal, clouded his view of her.

Without any credible proof, he agrees with ac­cusations of Ma Theingi having “gone over” ton the junta’s side after she became vocally critical about Suu Kyi and here party’s policies.

I also wonder about Popham’s intention to I include an assumption by Suu Kyi’s friends about how she fell in love with a Pakistani student,who later worked in the Pakistani Foreign Service and who declined to be interviewed for the book, during her second year at xford. Was this just an attempt to sensationalize Suu Kyi’s love-life during her younger days?

He also seems as star-struck when he likens Suu Kyi, giving her first politi­cal speech to an audience while in her mid-40s, to a 17-year-old girl. Without a doubt, all of us will agree. how youthful Suu Kyi ap­pears even now. However, just from seeing Sun Kyi’s picture from that time, it is clear that comparing her to teenager is a gross exaggeration.

At times, the book tends towards being uniecessarily longwinded with exhaustive details about political events in Surma. Popham could lave just included the -oncise versions of those ,vents which are signifi­-ant for Burma’s history Ind Suu Kyi, but then he would not have been able o fill up all those 398 )ages.

For those who have ‘ead other books written about Burma or Aung San >uu Kyi, the only new or nteresting material is the ,ntries from Ma Theingi’s ournal. Although the quotes provide readers with a rare glimpse of the intimate details into Sun Kyi’s life, it would have been better not to include quote-after-quote, con­taining a repetitive and sometimes trivial details like what Suu Kyi wore and what she ate, contin­uously page-after-page.

Popham states thathis story on Suu Kyi is not “just the story of a courageous woman who challenged a military jun­ta and lost”—an assertion that Suu Kyi herself never made—but of someone who has a more “complex and interesting” side.

No doubt that Ma Theingi’s journal entries and the chapter on Suu Kyi’s childhood years are interesting, enhanced by the good storytelling skills of Popham, and contain details other prior biographers have left out. Other than that, Popham might have been too presumptuous about his aims for his book and his understanding on his subjects—Suu Kyi and Burma.

Source: The Traveller Journal

Myanmar sends back extradited Chinese citizens after their re-entry

MANDALAY—Myanmar authorities have returned six Chinese citizens who were found to have re-entered the country via Mandalay International Airport after being extradited to China for violating visa rules, according to a government official.

The director of Mandalay Region’s Immigration and National Registration Department said the Chinese citizens in question were blacklisted for violating visa rules and then extradited. They entered the country again holding new passports, he said.

“These were cases in which some people re-entered the country with new passports pretending not to know about being blacklisted. After inspection, we sent them back from the airport. They were from Kyaukse and Myitha towns in Mandalay region, where they used to engage in agriculture,” said department director Thaung Zaw.

According to the department, five other Chinese citizens were extradited last month after completing their prison terms.

Monthly, about 500 Chinese citizens arrive in Mandalay region on business visas. They usually work in oil and gas, mining and agriculture. With business visas, they can stay in Myanmar for up to 70 days.