Shin Ma Taung Tharakhan Buddha ရွင္မေတာင္ သရခံ ဘုရား

January 5, 2018

Shin Ma Taung is a hill west of PaKhan Gyi and is famous for its Thanakhar and also for the Shin Ma Taung Tharakhan Buddha at the hill top pagoda which is one of the 5 Tharakhan Buddha images of king Alaung Sithu. During the colonial times it was moved to the Sithu Shin pagoda in PaKhan Gyi and still is known as being there and still mentioned as such in the Sithu Shin pagoda book. However, when I got there in June 2017, I was told that it has been moved back to Shin Ma Taung a long time ago when the security got better. As the aim of my Upper Myanmar pilgrimage was to visit the 4 remaining Tharakhan Buddhas, I went to Shin Ma Taung when I found out the road was good.

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Beyond the PaKhan Gyi Kyaung Taw Gyi, the road was not paved but not bad. The road up the Shin Ma Taung hill was a good tar road and there were plenty of trees on the hill.




There was a meditation group at the time and we were lucky that a session of meditation was over when we got there as we did not have to wait to view the Tharakhan Buddha.




We had a  nice view of wooded Shin Ma Taung.










Shin Ma Taung viewed from Pareinma

The history of the Tharakhan Buddha images is related to king AhLaung Sithu and is mythological with reference to the ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn.

The following is the history of the Tharakhan Buddha images from the Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin:

While king AhLaung Sithu went around his country, the local rulers paid homage to him. On reaching ThainGo / Thiho / Thiri LinKar / Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan king offered the Maha Kathapha image that is being worshipped by the Sri Lankan kings, the huge ThitKaNet ship and daughter Princess Sao Oo Htwe.

King AhLaung Sithu continued on his journey to the ZamBu DiPar Kyunn where  ZamBu. ThaPyay Pin / tree grew. Then king AhLaung Sithu decided to continue his journey to the MyinyMo mountain but was dissuaded by the ThaGyarMinn through the Wi.Tha Kyone NatTharr and also by the ministers and the courtiers.

The Tharakhan Buddha images were sclptured from the Tharakhan incence wood offered to king AhLaung Sithu by the ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn. During his travels, king AhLaung Sithu reached Malayu and there an orgress dropped her child while looking at the  king. The orgress asked the king to rescue her child and king AhLaung Sithu whipped the sea with the cane, saying why the ManiMayKhaLar Nathamee did not rescue! ManiMayKhaLar Nathamee rescued the child and gave to the king AhLaung Sithu who returned it to the orgress. The orgress offered various incense to king AhLaung Sithu. The ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn also offered the MahaBodhi DetKhiNa TharKhar and the Tharakhan incence wood to the king.

On his return to Bagan, king AhLaung Sithu had 5 Buddha statutes made from the Tharakhan incence wood. The Abbot Shin AhRaHan advised to have the images to be distributed so as to be available to all. King AhLaung Sithu went upriver with the 5 Tharakhan Buddha images and the MyatPaung Myitzu Buddha image.  At KunnYwa, there were many birds in the sky and the soothsayers said that it is an auspicious place where the Buddha image want to reside. The king have the Buddha images placed on white elephants to find where they rest in order to find the place for the Buddha images. Thus, the 4 Tharakhan Buddha images were placed in pagodas at KunnYwa, ShinMa Taung, Pakhan, and HsinKyoe.

The remaining Tharakhan Buddha image could not be placed on white elephant and when the king asked about it, the soothsayers replied that once when the king was further up river at AhNyar ThihaTaw, a jungle hen landed on the royal barge and laid egg on  the front end. This is the place where the remaining Tharakhan Buddha image want to reside. King AhLaung Sithu went up the Ayeyarwaddy to the AhNyar ThihaTaw and have a pagoda built on the island in the middle of Ayeyarwaddy and placed the remaining Tharakhan Buddha image there.

Nowadays, the AhNyar ThihaTaw Buddha image resides in Mandalay at the Shwe Kyee Myin pagoda and only went to the AhNyar ThihaTaw pagoda during its pagoda festival.

KunnYwa is the current ShweTannTit.

The height of the Tharakhan Buddha images were only about 4 fingers width / Let Lay Thit and with the elephant / HsinKhan throne / Palin the difference in them is the number of elephants sculptured on the elephant throne / HsinKhan Palin.

The following is the history of the Tharakhan Buddha images from the ShweTannTit pagoda history / Phayarr Thamaing by AhShin PyaNyar WunTha:

The ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn gave the Tharakhan incence which gives out fragrance for the 15 yuzana diameter area to king AhLaung Sithu and told the king that if 5 Gautama Buddha statutes are to be made from it and worshipped, there will be great results from it. When the king handled the Tharakhan wood he remarked how 5 Buddha statutes can be made from it as it is so small, the ThaGyarMinn told the king that he would do it and got it back. Although the ThaGyarMinn could make the Buddha statutes from the Tharakhan wood by his power, he only created small carpentry tools and have the 5 Buddha statutes of 4 finger breadth height sculptured and from the small pieces that result from the sculpturing, have a Buddha image made with Thit Say and gave all 6 Buddha statutes to the king.

King AhLaung Sithu remarked that the thrones are too small and it would be better to have elephant thrones beneath. The ministers and courtiers agreed and royal painters were called in they painted the first Tharakhan Buddha image with 15 elephant throne, the second Tharakhan Buddha image with 14 elephant throne, the third Tharakhan Buddha image with 13 elephant throne, the fourth Tharakhan Buddha image with 12 elephant throne, the fifth Tharakhan Buddha image with 11 elephant throne and the sixth Tharakhan Buddha image with 10 elephant throne and the paintings were shown to the king. The king liked the paintings and ordered the carpenters to sculpture them. The royal carpenters asked with what wood are the elephant thrones to be made but the king did not have any answer and the carpenters went back to their boat.

During the night, the Nats of the island, jungle and hills came to worship the Buddha images and heard the king talking in his sleep about what wood to make the elephant thrones. They took the 6 pieces of wood from the tree that looks like elephant hide that grows in the Himalayas and placed them in front of the Buddha images on the royal boat.

The king found them the next morning, gave them to the carpenters and has the elephant thrones made from them. After they were finished the king was very pleased and gave 10 ticals of gold and a gold bowl as a reward to the carpenters and have the Tharakhan Buddha images placed on the elephant thrones.

King AhLaung Sithu after looking closely at the Tharakhan Buddha images, remarked about the smallness of the Tharakhan Buddha images and the ThaGyarMinn told the king that having the Tharakhan Buddha images placed within the larger Buddha images made from ZamBu. ThaPyay wood would be a good thing. The king liked the idea and as he requested the ThaGyarMinn for it, the ThaGyarMinn told the Wi.Tha Kyone NatTharr to carry out the task. The wood was not enough for the 6th ZamBu. ThaPyay Buddha image and BawDi wood was used to finish it. When the Wi.Tha Kyone NatTharr offered the 6 ThaPyay Buddha images to theking, the king noticed that the right arm of the 6th ZamBu. ThaPyay Buddha image is different and remarked so.

King AhLaung Sithu asked the ThaGyarMinn whether to have the Buddha images in Bagan or not and the ThaGyarMinn replied that 3 and a half yuzana north of Bagan is a hill where medicinal plants and Thanatkharr trees are in abundance. Southeast of the hill is the auspicious place for the Buddha images. Once there, the good Nats will  show the places where to have them placed.

After king AhLaung Sithu reached back to Bagan, he went upriver of the Ayeyarwaddy with the Buddha images. On reaching PaikKun Ywa, there were many birds flying in the sky and asked about the significance and was told by the learned ministers that . the place will be the Maha Nagara Hsainda country in the future and that the Buddha images want to reside there. The king placed the second Tharakhan Buddha image on the back of the Narga ShweGyi white elephant and allow it to roam about. The Narga ShweGyi white elephant stopped at a place pointing at a shrub with its trunk. When the shrub was cleared, a small stupa was found. It was one of the 84000 stupas built by king Asoka. King AhLaung Sithu had the stupa rebuilt.

The place was called Hsin TannTit as the Narga ShweGyi white elephant did not proceed any further. This later becomes ShweTannTit as time passed


Mount Titlis, the year round snow capped moutain

June 7, 2017

DSC05087When I planned my visit to Switzerland, 2 places came to my mind. Lakeside place and snowcapped mountain. I looked at the iteniaries of the tour companies and decided on Mount Titlis as the snow capped mountain to visit, but not to a skiing place, but to where non skiing visitors go. I first planned to stay a night each at Lucerne and at the base of Mt. Titlis, but Linn Zaw Win advised to go there for a day trip as we would be back in Lucerne and could make the next leg of our European trip to Paris earlier the next day.

Titlis is a mountain of the Uri Alps, located on the border between the cantons of Obwalden and Berne. Wikipedia
Elevation: 3,238 m

breakfast 26 May 2016

Croissants in European countries are good. They are cripsy, unlike those in UK and Myanmar which are just croissant shaped buns.

After breakfast we went to Lucerne station.


Lucerne / Luzern, Switzerland

We had to go to Engelberg by train to visit mount Titlis,


Lucerne station on right

We always stayed at places within easy walking distance of the train stations of places we stayed for the night so the first thing is to walk to Lucerne station.

We had to take the 9:10 am train to Stans — Engelberg from platform 13.


Lucerne station is a large one

The train ride to Engelberg passes through beautiful places.


Beautiful Swiss countryside.

We finally arrived at Engelberg

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Then take a bus ride to Klientitils at the base of mount Titlis.


Once on the bus and till back at Engelberg, it was like we were in India. Indian movies always feature scenes of Switzerland including the snow mountains, so finding Indians at mount Titlis is not strange, only NOT finding them in Lucerne IS!



We went up to ride the Titlis Express

and had to wait a while


finally, our turn came and many more behind

views while on the cable car

cows look small


cows grazing


first view of snow on the mountain

first view of a glacier



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ski elevators were empty


skiing center

views from high up the cable car ride

nearing the end

we entered the glacier cave



It was cold and I wore all warm clothes I brought.

The walkway to Titlis Cliff Walk was Closed

After exiting, we had a spectacular view of the Swiss Alps





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We went outside into the sun and snow


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And handled real snow for the very first time in our lives.




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near the mountain top


There were many at the mountain top, mostly Indians.


The summer sun make us hot even with the snow and we had to take off the outermost warm clothes.




we went on the Sky Walk




on the Sky Walk

There was an Ice Flyer


Ice Flyer

we did not ride the Ice Flyer,  Nor ski and the Cliff Walk was closed


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snow on the walkway had to be cleared regularly by the staff

We had to get down in time for the train and there was a group of younf Indians in our cable car who look rich.



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Back at the base waiting for our bus


Back at Lucerne

It was an unforgettable trip.

White Cliffs of Dover

June 4, 2017

Dover is also another place I have not thought of visiting but Jimmy came with Tin Aung on the morning of 5 May 16 and took us there on a picnic (he had brought a ground sheet and a basket full of drinks and food) and it was another unexpected nice trip


There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of dover
Just you wait and see

I’ll never forget the people I met
Braving those angry skies
I remember well as the shadows fell
The light of hope in their eyes

And though I’m far away
I still can hear them say
Bombs up
But when the dawn comes up

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of dover
Just you wait and see

There’ll be love and laughter
And peace ever after
When the world is free

The shepherd will tend his sheep
The valley will bloom again
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of dover
Just you wait and see

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of dover
Just you wait and see

Read more: Vera Lynn – The White Cliffs Of Dover Lyrics | MetroLyrics
The White Cliffs of Dover 5

white cliffs of Dover

I have known this song since I was a lad but had not seen the movie.



bluebirds are a group of medium-sized, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous bird in the order of Passerines in the genus Sialia of the thrush family. Bluebirds are one of the few thrush genera in the Americas. Wikipedia

The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs that form part of the English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliffs are part of the North Downs formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to 350 feet (110 m),[1] owes its striking appearance to its composition of chalk accented by streaks of black flint. The cliffs stretch along the coastline for eight miles (13 km), spreading east and west from the town of Dover in the county of Kent, an ancient and still important English port.[2]

White Cliffs of Dover map

It is said that the Dover cliffs can be seen from the French coast across the Straight of Dover. This narrow water that separates France from England is the scene of the long history between the 2 countries with Anglo Francophone Wars, even the WWs and Trade, both legal and blackmarketeering throughout the centuries.

The cliffs have great symbolic value in Britain because they face towards continental Europe across the narrowest part of the English Channel, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard. The National Trust calls the cliffs “an icon of Britain”, with “the white chalk face a symbol of home and war time defence.”[3] Because crossing at Dover was the primary route to the continent before the advent of air travel, the white line of cliffs also formed the first or last sight of Britain for travellers. In World War II, thousands of allied troops on the little ships in the Dunkirk evacuation saw the welcoming sight of the cliffs.[4]

The White Cliffs of Dover 9

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the white cliff



We walked a long way to the distant South Foreland lighthouse, Dover


South Foreland lighthouse, Dover at a distance


getting nearer


there was an English teashop


with free places


but we picnicked outside




South Foreland lighthouse, Dover



Shakespeare’s Birthplace

June 3, 2017

Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands, is the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. Possibly the most famous writer in the English language, Shakespeare is known for his sonnets and plays such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Hamlet’. The Royal Shakespeare Company performs his plays in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and adjacent Swan Theatre on the banks of the River Avon.

Stratford upon Avon - Oxford - London map

Stratford upon Avon – Oxford – London map

I have never thought of going to Shakespere’s birthplace and had not read about it but got there unexpectedly on 3-May-16 when our friend Jimmy Myo picked up us at the hotel in Paddington we were staying. He already had picked up Min Sein and May Khine and he took us to Stratford-upon-Avon. It was a  nice trip and brought back to my memory Shakespeare’s short stories in the English curriculum during High School: Hamlet; The Merchant of Venice; King Lear_ and also the famous Romeo and Juliet, the movie Shakespeare in Love.



Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands, is the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare on the banks of the River Avon.


Court Jester at Shakespeare’s birthplace walk road


Memorial Stone


In front of Shakespeare Center



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Shakespeare’s homes


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Shakespeare family tree


Shakespeare home


With play actors




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dining table






Work table


upper floor window


writing table


Master bed



children’s room

some have no bed


night pot


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Jimmy who took us to Shakespeare’s birthplace

We were then taken to Anne Hathawa’s home not far away.


Anne Hathaway’s home

It was an unexpected  nice trip, thanks to Jimmy.

Gawrangyi Kyuun ေဂၚရန္ဂ ်ီက ်ြန္း Kyway Gyaing ေၾကြခ ်ိဳင္

June 2, 2017

The name Gawrangyi Kyuun ေဂၚရန္ဂ ်ီက ်ြန္း is a very strange one because Gawrangyiေဂၚရန္ဂ

်ီ is the name of an Indian tribe that came to work in Myanmar during the colonial times. My friends do not know exactly from where and what type of Indian they are. There were many groups of Indians at the time: the Ponnas, soothsayers of high caste who settled in Myanmar since ancient times and were advisors to Myanmar Kings; Tamils who came from Tamil Nadu and is the most populous group of Indians in Myanmar nowadays; Bengalis who were from Bengal and the 2nd most populous group; the Chittee / Chettier, well known, who were money lenders; Moguls, northern Indians whose were the ruling classs of the last Indian dynasty, Aryans from further West, maybe Iran,the Punjabis from Punjab, the Sikhs, also from the northwest India, the Khawtaws (now called Bengalis) from the land that is now Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. I suspect the Gawrangyi to be another name for the Tamils. Did Gawrangyis live on the Gawrangyi kyuun? If so, where are they now? There are no Gawrangyis on Gawrangyi Kyuun nowadays!

Gaw Yan Gyi - NgaYokeKaung gmap

The Kyuun is also a misnomer nowadays as it means island. Although up to around 1970 Gawrangyi Kyuun was an island and coastal boats passed through the waterway, but since around then a sand bar developed and it became a peninsular. But the name, both Gawrangyi and Kyuun persists.

Gaw Yan Gyi - NgaYokeKaung Pathein Ngwesaung gmap

As Gawrangyi Kyuun is the part around Ngayokekaung that protrudes into the sea, boats would have to avoid it or boats in trouble would land there to ask for help. Maybe a boat of Gawrangyis were stranded on its beaches on their way to Rangoon to find their wealth as Myanmars nowadays leave home and go abroad to find theirs.

goyangyi kyun bridge map

The land bridge that now connects the Gawrangyi kyuun to the mainland

I heard of the Gawrangyi kyuun only recently. It has become popular only for about 2 years since a new road was built to Ngayokekaung. Previously Ngayokekaung and Gawrangyi Kyuun had only boat travel by sea available.

Even now, the Ngayokekaung road from the Ngayokekaung hill on the Pathein – Maw Tin road to Ngayokekaung is still a bad all weather rock road which is being cemented in certain places. However, the road to Gawrangyi Kyuun from that road along a circuitous road along the upper streams is a very bad dirt road that is not passable after the rains until it has become dry and should only be driven by 4 wheel drive off road vehicles and other high axle cars.

Although getting there is difficult, it is popular not only because of the clear waters, good beaches and beautiful rocks, but also because it is still in the virgin stage, unspoiled and with few visitors on the clear beaches where one feels like being at a private beach on an isolated remote island.

The following are photos of the Kyway Gyaing near Gawrangyi Kyun




In a few years, the road will be better and more will visit, spoiling it.

NgaYokeKaung S gmap

The road map to Ngayokekaung.

One can drive or take a bus to Ngayokekaung and then transfer to Gawrangyi Kyun from there with motorcycle rides and a ferry.



We went along with the Royal Ruby group and the trip left Yangon at night time. We were collected near our home at 7:30 pm but after taking on another group and waiting for the big bus, finally left Yangon Hlaingtharyar only at 9:30 pm after filling up.


I woke up at a stop near the Nyaungdon bridge in Pantanaw township and had coffee.


Beyond that, I woke up again at the Ngayokekaung hill stop and had mohingha early before dawn.



There were interesting posters and sights at the Ngayokekaung hill.

We went ahead on the road to Ngayokekaung and soon dawn came.
However, it was still dark on the road.
Daylight came in time.
Soon, we reached the Kyway Gyaing
The Kyway Gyaing village road

I had a quick dip in the sea before lunch was ready.
On the beach were …
…crab boles and footprints


crab holes


beached tree stump

The beach was deserted most of the time


The south side of the Kyein Gyaing ၾကိမ္ခ ်ိဳင္


Kyein Gyaing beach front.


Gawrangyi Kyun at far north


Double room beach front bungalows where we stayed


Dining room and the FOC tubes for guests


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The next morning we went for a walk to the north end of the Kyway Gyaing where there are rocks.


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June 1, 2017
The Palace of Versailles, Château de Versailles, or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. Wikipedia
When the château was built, Versailles was a small village dating from the 11th century.

It is just 30 minutes away, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of the centre of the French capital (point zero at square in front of Notre Dame)

Versailles was the seat of political power in the Kingdom of France from 1682, when King Louis XIV moved the royal court from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789, within three months after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.

I have read about Versailles from the stories, novels, articles and history books about the French Revolution,  King Louis XIV and Queen Marie Antoinette (whose’s remarks “Why do’t they eat cakes if they do not have bread?” is one of the most famous Quotes of all times), so when I planned my visit to Paris, I made sure Versailles is on my iteniary.

We went there with a half day tour although one can go there by train.


After failing to get off near the Tour company office and having taken a mercedes limousine taxi, we went to Versailles on a bus full of tourists from all over the world, but we were the only ones from SE Asia.



King Louis XIV

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who reigned as King of France and Navarre from 1643 until his death in 1715. Wikipedia

Versailles Palace


Statute inside the palace grounds


The Versailles garden is the most beautiful garden I have been to.



The sculpture of Louis XIV



The wall murals of the palace are magnificent.





So too are those on the ceilings.






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The King’s reception room


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The Royal Bedchamber


The Hall of Mirrors!

Mirrors must be scarce and expensive at the time that mirrors were used to decorate the room.


Hall of mirrors


The Hall of Mirrors

Louis XIV on horseback




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Bas reliefs


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And paintings on the wall!



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Royal staircase


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Statute on the gate post



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We all gathered near this post and returned to Paris where we had Chinese lunch so that we can have rice.





A mishap on our visit to Versailles

May 30, 2017

Versailles Palace is the famous French Palace built before and used during the time of the French Revolution and is a little far from Paris. We bought tickets to visit Versailles with the tour company that operates the Hop on Hop off Paris. As our Hop on Hop off 24 hour ticket was still valid that morning, we went by Metro to the Pyramid station near where the Hop on Hop off office is.



We boarded the first Hop on Hop off bus to go to the Tour company that would take us to Versailles. We had a nice bus ride around Paris again, going round the loop.

There were not many tourists and the top was nearly empty we had a nice go around Paris by bus.




We passed by the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris again.



Also the magnificent Arch de Triumph built on order of Napoleon, the most famous French Emperor (actually he is a Corsican and his native land is in Italy now).




After passing the Maritime Museum, we had to get off near the Eiffel Tower as it is the nearest hop off stop to the Tour office. We had hopped off at the Maritime Museum and walked down to the Eiffel Tower the previous day so I do not know which usual route the HOHO bus takes.


Looking at the photos I had taken, we had passed in front of the Tour office without realizing we should get off here.


After passing through a boulevard, and going for some time, I noticed a building which was quite far from the Eiffel and which I had observed on the HOHO bus tour the previous day.

I got up and asked the bus driver. He said the usual route was blocked that day because of the Marathon and they had bypassed the Eiffel stops. We got off the bus and walked back. I did not see the Eiffel anywhere and checked the map and noticed that we could not make it in time by walking. I stopped and waited for a free taxi to come along. There was not much time to get to the tour company in time, and luckily, a vacant taxi came along.



I was surprised that the taxi was bigger than usual ones and a Mercedes. Furthermore, the taxi driver, a white middle east looking man, was dressed smartly in a suit. It would be a limousine and I was worried about the fare. However, it was a meter taxi and the rate was reasonable. When we got off, the Eiffel tower was not in sight and I asked him whether it might be the wrong place. He indicated to the opposite side of the road and drove off.


We arrived in time, but had to wait for others before our Touir guide called us and we all boarded the Tour Bus to Versailles.

During the time we waited, I walked around for a short distance and found an interesting shop selling souvenrs including aprons, French style.









Visit to Than Taung Gyi, Myanmar, March 2017

May 26, 2017

We finally got the chance to visit Than Taung Gyi, Myanmar, March 2017. Although it has been on our thoughts to visit it for a long time, the trip has been shelved until a friend posted photos of her group’s visit to Touingoo and TnanTaungGyi on facebook recently. I got information from her about the road conditions and how they went, where they visited and where they stayed. I talked with my elder brother about his earlier visit there too and got facts about the ascent road and the place they had stayed for 2 nights in ThanTaungGyi and data of other place which was full and one another which he got from others.

We discussed about the date we would go and planned on a 1 night trip. As usual, I took an early sleep after making all preparations and when I woke up after midnight, had to cook for our dog ArTi, fed him and left around 3 am, had a stop at the 115 mile way station at 5 am.


At the 115 mile stop, Expressway, Myanmar before dawn

I had planned to set out a little late than usual so as it will be dawn and vision good on the next leg of the trip on the Expressway as there had been bad news about cars which stopped at the 115 mile being bobby trapped with nail so that when they drive off, the tyre would be punctured and after a short drive, it will be noticed and change of tyre necessary. At that time, those on motorcycles would arrive and there would be trouble.

After breakfast, we continued on  and it was light enough to see clearly without headlights. Soon we reached the 146 mile access road from Toungoo. That access road was a straight wide 4 lane cement road and I could drive 120 mph safely as the traffic was sparse and no need to slow down. I had a great view of the sunrise over the Eastern Yoma while driving east towards Toungoo.


Sunrise over the Eastern Yoma on the Expressway access road from Toungoo

The road joins the Yangon Mandalay Highway just north of Toungoo.


Toungoo / KayTuMadi

After visiting the ShweHsanDaw pagoda and the Kandawgyi / Kandaw Mingalar in Toungoo, we crossed the Sittaung river and went on to the east bank, a Kayin territory which had only sparse Kayin villages and farms in 1969 but now the highway is lined with houses and shops a long way.


Crossing the Sittaung river to the East at Toungoo

We visited the Myat Saw Nyi Naung pagodas which are on the road to Pin Laung which is on the Aung Ban – Loikaw highway before returning to the road junction to ThanTaungGyi and to our destination.

On reaching ThanTaung, which is not our destination but the city at the base of the Eastern Yoma, we dropped in at the PaThi Chaung (creek) which is a famous and marvellous place to visit and has pristine clear water flowing across the bed of stones. Back in 1969, it was just a rural place. Maybe the town was a little further up the road as I did not get to it and returned after a dip in the Pa Thi. Chaung, which had less water in April at the time.


PaThi. Chaung / Creek ပသိေခ်ာင္း

The Than Taung Town is at the foothills of the Eastern Yoma. It was a continuous climb up Yoma till we reached the Than Taung Gyi which is at the top, over 4000 ft above sea level. There are separate up and down roads but the problem is that they criss-crossed at several places and the road signs are not clear with the down arrow indicating the way up and no clearly written signs, a difficulty for first comers. I nearly made a wrong turn down at the first criss cross as the arrow which showed the up road seems to be directed towards the down road. Luckily, there was a Hot Spring stop and I could ask the way. The up road is narrow and although there were few vehicles, it is difficult to overtake the car ahead unless it is considerate and let you pass at places where it is possible.


The view along the road is superb as there are plenty of trees as far as one can see.


On nearing Than Taung Gyi, a distant tea plantation hill was seen.


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We soon reached the Than Taung Hill City


We looked around for a place to stay and after looking at 2 places, decided on staying at the I Wish motel which is on a ridge top and has a nice view of the opposite range of the valley.


But as the hotel was full and we could only get a room after the guests check out and as meals at the hotel had to be ordered in advance we went to eat at a place recommended by the hotel proprietor. The food was good, especially the TarTaPaw soup which did not use the baked rice powder.


After lunch, we checked in after a short wait as the guests still had not checked out. The view from the hotel was great. It was the reason we decided to stay there as the previous ones do not have such nice view.


After check  in and a bath and a little rest, we walked to visit the Naw Bu Baw hill.


Although I expected a short climb, it took us 1 hour to get to the foot of the hill from which all had to go up the stairs to the top.


The Naw Bu Baw hill from afar

It was good exercise and a test of my cardiac reserve. Although I had to stop a few moments here and then when the road got steep and I got breathless, I did not have any chest pains!


Entrance of the Naw Bu Baw hill top Church area

The parking lot was not big and more than full and there were some vehicles that had to stop in front or back of the parked cars. Lucky, I did not bring my car. If I had blocked other cars, I could not go up the final steps as I it would be difficult to come down when they phoned me, if phones worked at all. The hp connectivity in Than Taung Gyi is patchy, erratic and difficult even if you have phones for all 3 service providers.


There is a final 560 steps climb which all pilgrims and visitors had to climb to make it to the top, another test of cardiac sufficiency for me and all others! Those who made it to the top are rewarded not only with the nice view but also the knowledge that his heart is still going strong.



On the way, there is the elephant trunk rock.


elephant trunk rock

We had to take a breather every now and then on the way up the stairs.


There are several Chapels along the way too, with one shaped like the 2 praying hands.

The Naw Bu Baw mountain top view is spectacular!


It was in the evening but there was still light although sunset was near. If one does not stay for the night at Naw Bu Baw and return to Yangon or elsewhere the same day, one gets there around midday and the view would be different. It is only when you stay for the night at Than Taung Gyi that you can climb up the Naw Bu Baw in the evenings or mornings.


The top is built like a ship but actually meant to be Noah’s Ark.

The front end.



Aft / rear end of Noah’s Ark


Boat house building and the Cross at the Stem / fore end


It was windy! There were many visitors so one cannot take a Titanic style photo.


Soon, it was near sunset time

Time to go back, but with the panaroma, I wanted to stay on till dark, but …..



While waiting for dinner, we had a photoshoot.


As there was a large group ahead of us, we ordered light dinner.


The Kywayt Ti O was nothing like the one it claimed to be.

I asked later whether Than Taung Gyi has connection with the Thais. The answer was NO. It is at the end of the road, beyond which lies only te villages. The other road from the base of the Yoma is the road to Pin Laung in the Shan State and to the south of it, Loikaw in the Kayah State, beyond which lies Thailand. Pha An has a connection with Thailand through the Myawaddy – Mae Sot border and the Thai cuisines there are genuine.


We had to wait for a while before breakfast the next morning because it was served only at 7 am.


We had a photoshoot during the wait.

There is no buildings on the opposite side of the road as they are lower on the side of the ridge and beneath the view.


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The road below goes to the houses beneath

After breakfast, we went for a walk towards the end of the road. It was a road on the side of the hill with only a few houses on the downhill side.

There was a spectacular cut rock, exposed during the road construction.


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Nice view clear of houses


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We went up a side road up the hill and got to the hill top Primary School

The view there was more panoramic!


I Wish hotel seen from the Primary School


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Further down the main road are some houses and a distant entrance to the Army.


Army entrance at a distanced

We returned back after a nice morning walk and back at the I-Wish, rested before lunch and return home.



had a photo session

and a …


piano recital


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The I-Wish motel main building was built 1912 and had been in the family of the proprietor since 1935.

Unexpected train ride by the Lake Geneva

May 25, 2017

I had planned to visit Lucerne, Switzerland and the Mount Titlis, the year round snow capped Swiss mountain in the Alps.


While in Venice 23 May 2016


At the train station, Venice 23 May 16


Boat ride in Venice 23 May 16

While in Venice, I booked seats for the train to Lucerne. The clerk booked tickets for Lausanne but I thought it was the way Lucerne is written in Italian or Swiss.

The next day we boarded the train to Lausanne thinking we were going to Lucerne / Luzern.


First view of the snow capped mountains of the Swiss Alps


Snow capped Swiss Alps

It was only when we arrived at Lausanne and the taxi-man told me that the Hotel we booked in Lucerne was too far away and he could not take us there, but to get a train there that I knew about the error. As it was dark and late, after 8, we stayed at a hotel and after breakfast the next morning, went to the station to go to Lucerne and got tickets for Lucerne / Luzern.


Tulip Inn where we stayed


Garden at the hotel in Lausanne


Lausanne 24 May 16

As we got to the platform 1, with 5 minutes to spare, a train came in and we boarded it. There was not many people on board and I asked a few passengers whether it was the train to Lucerne. The do not understand me but a man in coveralls came along and when I asked him, he shook his head and said no and indicated that we had to take the next train. As we were about to get down, the door closed and the train began to move. Soon we got to get the spectacular view of the Lake Geneva, twice, as we had to return from the next stop which was 3 stations away.


Lake Geneva



view of the Alps





Swiss country side



Without my 2 errors of wrong destination and boarding the wrong train 5 minutes earlier, I would not have the nice unforgettable view of the Swiss Alps, Lake Geneva and countryside.

A visit to Trang An, Vietnam

April 9, 2017


Tràng An is a scenic area near Ninh Bình, Vietnam renowned for its boat cave tours. Tthe Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site 23 June 2014, at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha


A visit to Vietnam is incomplete without visiting Trang An.

The tourist boats are safe factory made ones with no seams


There are lots of tourists visiting Trang An


The female rowers can take a boat load of 4 passengers on about half an hour’s rowing sightseeing. I rowed for a while and got tired.


Passenger safety is taken seriously, and all have to wear life jackets although the female rowers do not.






we passed by a temple

the boats enter a tunnel



We entered the subterranean tunnel




it was dark inside as the tunnel was long


there were lights at points inside




at places the roof was low



and the side wall close at times




light at the end of the tunnel


outside at last







ore beautiful scene



we entered another tunnel


this tunnel is shorter






there were no lights inside and we were out in no time



again another tunnel, this one near human habitation or place of worship


a wide and short one



more beautiful scenes





boats of locals are different







another tunnel again!


and shorter too




we finally got ashore



Trang An, Vietnam, was a memorable trip