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
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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.

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Lucerne / Luzern, Switzerland

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

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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.

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Lucerne station is a large one

The train ride to Engelberg passes through beautiful places.

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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.

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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!

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We went up to ride the Titlis Express

and had to wait a while

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finally, our turn came and many more behind

views while on the cable car

cows look small

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cows grazing

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first view of snow on the mountain

first view of a glacier

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ski elevators were empty

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skiing center

views from high up the cable car ride

nearing the end

we entered the glacier cave

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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.

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

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we went on the Sky Walk

 

 

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on the Sky Walk

There was an Ice Flyer

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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

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Back at Lucerne

It was an unforgettable trip.

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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

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

There’ll be love and laughter
And peace ever after
Tomorrow
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
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of dover
Tomorrow
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.

 

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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

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

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South Foreland lighthouse, Dover at a distance

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getting nearer

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there was an English teashop

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with free places

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but we picnicked outside

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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.

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Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

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Court Jester at Shakespeare’s birthplace walk road

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Memorial Stone

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In front of Shakespeare Center

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Shakespeare’s homes

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Shakespeare family tree

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Shakespeare home

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With play actors

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cabinet

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dining table

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kitchen

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stove

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Work table

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upper floor window

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writing table

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Master bed

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children’s room

some have no bed

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night pot

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exit

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Jimmy who took us to Shakespeare’s birthplace

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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There were interesting posters and sights at the Ngayokekaung hill.

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We went ahead on the road to Ngayokekaung and soon dawn came.
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However, it was still dark on the road.
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Daylight came in time.
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Soon, we reached the Kyway Gyaing
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The Kyway Gyaing village road
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I had a quick dip in the sea before lunch was ready.
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On the beach were …
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…crab boles and footprints

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crab holes

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beached tree stump

The beach was deserted most of the time

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The south side of the Kyein Gyaing ၾကိမ္ခ ်ိဳင္

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Kyein Gyaing beach front.

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Gawrangyi Kyun at far north

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Double room beach front bungalows where we stayed

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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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Versailles

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.

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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.

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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
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Versailles Palace

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Statute inside the palace grounds

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

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The sculpture of Louis XIV

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The wall murals of the palace are magnificent.

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So too are those on the ceilings.

 

 

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Ceiling

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The King’s reception room

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The Royal Bedchamber

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The Hall of Mirrors!

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

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Hall of mirrors

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The Hall of Mirrors

Louis XIV on horseback

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Bas reliefs

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Statutes

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We passed by the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris again.

 

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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We soon reached the Than Taung Hill City

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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On the way, there is the elephant trunk rock.

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elephant trunk rock

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

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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!

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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.

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

The front end.

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Aft / rear end of Noah’s Ark

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

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

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Soon, it was near sunset time

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

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While waiting for dinner, we had a photoshoot.

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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had a photo session

and a …

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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.

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While in Venice 23 May 2016

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At the train station, Venice 23 May 16

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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.

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First view of the snow capped mountains of the Swiss Alps

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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.

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Tulip Inn where we stayed

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Garden at the hotel in Lausanne

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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.

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Lake Geneva

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view of the Alps

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Swiss country side

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trees

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

The Hsaddan / Saddan / Chaddanta Cave

April 9, 2017

 

As caves go in Myanmar, Hsaddan Cave is not a beautiful one although it is the largest one I have been to inside Myanmar. However, the boat ride beyond the cave and the beautiful nearby hills make it one of the best places to visit in Myanmar and it reminds me of Trang An near Ha Noi, Vietnam, which has been called the inland Halong due to the similar shaped hills.

View on the way to Hsaddan Cave

 

A visit to the Hsaddan Cave from Hpa An takes half a day and although the first part of the road is a good highway, the branch road to the cave is a non paved one. The initial part through the village has many high than usual speed bumps that made passing them very time consuming as I had to inch up and down the humps. Beyond that village, the road is fine although not paved but it is a long way to go that crossed another non-paved highway. Near the Hsaddan Cave, the beautiful mountains can be seen.

The Hsaddan Cave from a distance

 

 

View at the other end of the Hsaddan Cave

The boat ride in the lake beyond the Hsaddan Cave and through the tunnel cave and beyond reminds me of the boat ride in Trang An, Vietnam.

Lake beyond the Hsaddan Cave

 

 

Boats entering the tunnel cave

 

Entering the cave tunnel. Light at the end of the tunnel

 

Light at the end of the tunnel

 

 

Nearing the tunnel exit

 

Near the end of the tunnel

 

Exit from the tunnel

 

 

Caves beyond the tunnel at the Hsaddan Cave that are still submerged

Caves beyond the tunnel at the Hsaddan Cave that are still submerged

 

 

 

Lake beyond the tunnel at the Hsaddan Cave

 

Passing the boat which returned from the end

 

The canal to near the Hsaddan entrance

 

 

Nearing the boat ride at the Hsaddan cave

 

End of the boat ride at the Hsaddan cave

After the boat ride, there is a walk back to the Hsaddan Cave Entrance

Cave beyond the tunnel at the Hsaddan Cave that is no longer submerged

Dry cave at Hsaddan cave

 

Cave beyond the tunnel at the Hsaddan Cave that is no longer submerged

 

Caves beyond the tunnel at the Hsaddan Cave that are no longer submerged

 

 

 

Hsaddan Cave is named after the Chaddanta King Elephant Jataka, one of Buddha’s previous lives. The Chaddanta elephants are one of the rarest breeds and considered by many to be the highest class of elephants. These elephants are unique in appearance, not only with bodies of pure white and feet and faces of a deep scarlet but with six tusks. The Chaddanta King Elephant had 2 elephant queens, the Maha Thubatha / Mahasubhadda and Sula Thubatha / Chullasubhadda. One day, King Chanddanta placed flowers on the elephant queens and the ones placed on Chullasubhadda contained ants which bit her.  The dry leaves, twigs and red ants from the tree fell on Chullasubhadda but the flowers and the pollen of the tree rained on Mahasubhadda.  Chullasubhadda became angry and vowed to take revenge on the King Chaddanta.

After Chullasubhadda died, she reincarnated as a human royal and became a queen and one day she pleaded the King for the tusks of the  Chaddanta King Elephant. The King sent the  Chief Hunter Thaw Note Ta Ra / Sonuttara who took seven years to finally find Chaddanta. He devised a sly plan and dug a pit next to Chaddanta cave and concealed it by covering it with the twigs and leaves of the forest. Sonuttara hid inside the pit and when Chaddanta was astride it, he shot Chaddanta with a poisoned arrow. Chaddanta searched for the enemy and found Sonuttara and took him with his trunk and asked why he did this. Sonuttara explained about the orders of his King due to the request of the Queen and Chaddanta realized it was Chullasubhadda who was revenging for the earlier incident. Chaddanta know he would die anyway and broke his tusks and gave them to Sonuttara who returned and presented them to his King and Queen.

 

 

Hsaddan Cave entrance elephants

 

 

Stairs up to the Hsaddan Cave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange design on roof of the cave

Part of the roof had fallen in

 

Steep stairs down

Have to go up again

 

 

At the middle of the long cave

 

 

light ahead

 

 

The Hole on the Cave roof drilled by the Chief Hunter Thaw Note Ta Ra / Sonuttara

 

Chedi on top of a stupa shaped stalagmite near the end of the Hsaddan cave

 

 

The exit

 

Final descent

 

The way out at the other end

One can return by the tunnel route but taking a boat ride and a short walk is worth going as one can get a splendid view of the countryside, nearby mountains and the mysterious caves both still submerged and those now dry.