Journey to the North 2009 November Day-1 24-Nov Part 01

The MyitHsone

Pyone at Departure loungue

where eagles dare

Flight to Myitkyina and Putao


I would like to make a record of many thanks to all my friends who helped me plan this trip to the north

and would like to share my experiences with them and also with other friends

those who might have been there


who might not have been yet

I want to make special mention of Ko Joseph who lived in Myitkyina and helped me plan my trip and encouraged me before and after my trip (to make this presentation)

Ko Nyo Win Htoon who told me about the boat trips down the Ayeyarwaddy from Myitkyina to Mandalay and how to make bus reservation ahead before reaching Mandalay

Ko Zaw Lin Oo, who provided me with the data about bus depots in Mandalay for my return

U Myint Oo, Permit Team, who arranged for me to get help from the Caretaker of MOGE guest house, Mandalay, to get train tickets and to stay there if necessary.

And last, but not the least, of my elder son Aung Ko Oo, who is posted in Waing Maw hospital, and arranged for the excursions from Myitkyina and accompanied us from Day-1 at the Myitkyina airport till we departed at the Mandalay Railway Station on Day-7 just prior his train to Myitkyina departed

More Acknowledgements

I would like to put on record the great help given by Ko Khine Soe, by lending his spare camera to me on my trip (it was actually his son’s old one), which is much better than my Canon, with more memory, better functions and more available 1batteries of AA size, 4 of which I have at home and also the help he gave me to burn them on CD yesterday which I did not bring today
as I had not intended to continue my narrative this morning.

I would like to record my thanks to U Hla Dway, chief mechanic, MOGE, mprl workshop, who is from Bhamo and gave me information about Bhamo and the Bhamo Mandalay travel methods.

And also to Zaw Lin Aung, who helped me contact Pyae Sone on my way to Monywa


our trip began on 24-Nov. The flight to Myitkyina by Myanmar Airways departed at 07:00,earlier than the usual 10:00 departure timeso that we got to Myitkyina around 10:00 (instead of the usual 13:00) and made the trip to the MyitHsone possible the same day, instead of going there the next day as originally planned. We gained a day through the earlier flight plan.

The mother and child in one photo is a co-traveller on the plane. They were going to PharKantto attend the funeral of their husband / father that afternoon who expired on 22-Novin PharKnat hospital,from stomach related problem (perforated gastric ulcer). They were informed by phone the previous day. The son, 2 years old, does know about the death of his father yet, nor will he be able to realise the significance until he is much older. She was making the last trip to PharKant and she will return only after the funeral and selling their house.

Her first visit there was after her marriage and she had been there several times. Both are from KyaukTaw, Rakhine State, and she now lives mainly in Yangon, while he lives mainly in Phar Kant. He has been was working in PharKnat for several years and got married when he became successful enough to start a family. We parted just outside the Myitkyina airport after she arranged for the trip to PyarKant on a van (price: 120000 Kyats)

aung ko oo arrived a little later from Waing Maw with the van he arranged for our trip to the MyitHsone. The driver was the husband of a nurse at Waing Maw hospital.The van to take us to the place we are staying before going to the MyitaHsone. We stayed at the “Nan Thidar”, with a riverside view on ako’s suggestions.

It was only on the day before we went on the trip,after I bought the air tickets to Myitkyinathat Pyone suddenly wanted to go to Putao. She had heard that it is very beautiful that one of her friends did not want to return after she got there. I had read at the booking office that there were only 2 Myanmar airways flights to Putao a week, tuesdays (Day-1 was a tuesday) and fridays and that the plane we were on would go to Putao after we got off at Myitkyina.

Had we planned the Putao trip earlier, we could have got ticket there from Yangon, but aung ko oo might not be able to get the same flight from Myitkyina to Putaoand would probably be left behind on that part of the trip

We went to get Air Bagan ticket to Putao when we arrived in Myiutkyina, but when we got to their office, it was just bad luck that Air Bagan also have the same 2 flights a week to Putao on tuesdays and fridays, and the flight to Putao on 24-Nov the same day at 14:00 and was full and we could not get tickets to go there the same afternoon. As we could not wait till Friday (Day-4) to get to Putao [we had planned to leave Myitkyina on Day-3], and then till the next tuesday (Day-8) or maybe till the next friday (Day-11) to return to Myitkyina (we actually got back to Yangon on Day-8 yesterday)

We had to take the Putao side trip out of our iteniary if we have luck, we might reach Putao sometime in the future as I intend to go back there in about 5 years time if our health is still good enough to travel.

After checking in at the Nanthidar we went to the MyitHsone. It was a 2 hour drive and although the road in Myitkyina is very good, it became bad outside Myitkyina, but still not so bad and we got there in time for lunch.

We had a Kachin style lunch with smoked fresh MyitHsone fish, chicken, Kachin Style and fish, Kachin Style and of course a mug of Khaung Yae, without which it would not be complete.

Lunch was in a shop in view of the MyitHsone, a very special experience which I will never forget and will probably never repeat again as the MyitHsone dam will inundate all the area with the MyitHsone gone forever in a few years. The water level will be 700 ft above sea level and as Myitkyina is 400 ft asl, the MyitHsone will be 300 ft under water including the hill at the point where the MayKha and MayLiKha meets.

A very sad thing when one thinks about it. Even now, I feel sad about it.

What will the environmentalists and the local Kachins feel about it?


Pyone at Departure loungue

we had to get up at 03:30 to make it to the 05:30 check-in time as the flight was 07:00

our eta was 10:00 and we could go to the MyitHsone the same day, saving one day from the original plan

Dido, our dog accompanied us to the airport. She was happy to have a ride in the car, but did not know that we would be leaving her and go on the trip. She would be taken care of by P’s family during our absence. After we got off and had our luggage out, she was taken away when my brother in law drove off to their home. She would not miss us until later.


self portrait

I took this photo by timer and got myself in photo although the view of us is not good

usually, as the photographer, I am is the least to be photographed, especially when there is no one to help


NW and P at Mingalardon airport departure lounge

While waiting at departure lounge, a co-traveller who was returning to Myitkyina took photos of us so that this photo is good. Later, we met our classmate Dr. Ohnmar San there. She was returning to Naypyitaw, where she is posted at National AIDS Program. She complained of not getting a house as she is single, and was permitted to stay in a dormitory. Only married staff get houses, or apartments, even if their families live elsewhere.


tarmac view


after getting settled, I took this photo before the plane taxied for takeoff



There is the HlawGarr reservoir in the background.


Flight to Myitkyina and Putao

the view of the clouds below the airplane


Pyone during the flight




tragedy for some while we were going on trip

The mother and child in one photo is a co-traveller on the plane

they were going to PharKant to attend the funeral of their husband / father that afternoon. He expired on 22-Nov

in PharKnat hospital from stomach related problem (perforated gastric ulcer). Friends informed them by phone the previous day.

The son, 2 years old, does know about the death of his father yet nor will he be able to realise the significance until he is much older.

She was making the last trip to PharKant and she will return only after the funeral and selling their house. Her first visit to Pharkant was after her marriage and she had been there several times. Both are from KyaukTaw, Rakhine State.

He was was working in PharKnat for several years and got married when he became successful enough to start a family. We parted just outside the Myitkyina airport after she arranged for the trip to PyarKant on a van (price: 120000 Kyats)


The first view of the AyeYarWaddy


The Ayeyarwaddy

There are plenty of sand banks to be seen as the plane gets low for landing near our destination. There are plenty of sand banks to be seen as the plane gets low for landing near our destination.


Near Myitkyina


near landing


Pyone on arrival at Myitkyina airport

there are Pann Hnan in the background

the air was cool, not cold as the time was about 10:00

we had to wait outside the airport for our luggage

When I asked an airport worker where to get our luggage, he asked for the tickets. I gave them to him, a little worried what I would do if he disappeared with the luggage. But he was sincere, and only wanted tip money to carry the luggage to the gate. It was a long way and worth the price, 500 K/pc. However, we could carry all our luggage ourselves, and ako later told me that anyone can retrieve their baggage by themselves beside the airport building. The porter had misled me to get tip money, telling me that the place to retrieve the luggage was outside the gate. It seemed fishy then of course, but what could I do?


Aung Ko Oo arrived to take us away from the airport.


Group photo in front of the Myitkyina airport

The van driver took our group photo. He lives in Waing Maw and is the wife of a nurse at the hospital. He came with ako on his motorcycle and got the van which is in Myitkyina, and then came to the airport.


On the way to MyitHsone, before leving Myitkyina

We stopped on the way to the MyitHsone to fill up the van and while the van was being filled, we had a photosession at the statue of SeeLone Chin Ei. In Arr…


On the way to MyitHsone

the free petrol was and is Chinese petrol

the locals do not buy government petrol as it is more costly

we pass this statute many times on our visits to MyitHsone, Waing Maw – War Shaung – Sidone and the Myitkyina-Bhamo bus ride


On the way to the MyitHsone

We stopped on the way to take a photograph in front of a Baptist training centre


Traditional Kachin Long House at MyitHsone

After we got to the MyitHsone, we ordered lunch and then went to the long house nearby while lunch was being prepared. It was not inhabited and kept as show piece for visitors.


Kachin long house at MyitHsone

There is a long pole at the right end of the photo. When we got home, a friend of P asked her whether we saw a Manaw pole at the MyitHsone. We did not see any with the traditional colours nor were we shown any by the driver. This pole is the only one in the photos looking like a pole. I do not know what it is and its significance.


Decorations of the Kachin Long House

Note the decoration on top of the front end of the Kachin long house. Traditionally, sons live with their parents when they marry. The house is extended to accomodate the new family. As more sons marry, the house grows longer.

These types of long houses can also be seen in Indonesia


the interior decorations of the long house


Waiting for lunch

The place we had lunch was on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy MyitHsone where it is out of the highest water level during the rainy season. The area below where there is sand and pebbles are under water then. However, the place where we had lunch will also be no more, all the surroundings of less than 300 ft height will be under water.


lunch, Kachin style at MyitHsone

We had Kachin lunch at the MyitHsone Kachin HtaminHsaing, on the bank where the water level did not reach even during the rainy season. The famed MyitHsone fish Kin, chicken and fish Kachin style, and KhaungYae, without which it will not be complete. The KhaungYae was good, better than the ones I had tasted earlier, especially the one at a Kachin shop in MyayNiGone, Yangon, but not as good as the one we had later at Bhamo MaNaw Pwe.

The NgaKin was very delicious, with flavor similar to that of the NgaGyee Chauk, with excellent aroma of the HmaingTin. A lunch to be remembered all my life, not only because of the excellent taste, but also because I will never experience the MyitHsone lunch anymore as the MyitHsone will soon be gone after the completion of the dam and I will not be able to return there again before the MyitHsone is gone. It was quite difficult to make a decision to visit there although we wanted to for a long time. The presence of my elder son aung ko oo in Waing Maw and the beginning of the MyitHsone dam project ushered us there.

IMG_1038 2

the mother

the mother was besides me and was not anxious about her child

I had to make sure of it before handling the puppy

otherwise, I would be bittten and be in trouble


Kachin puppy close up

The Kachin puppy was very cute. I wanted to fondle it for a long time, but dare not as I do not know the reaction of its mother. It was only after knowing that the mother was friendly, that I picked up the puppy. I wish I could take it with me home.


The MyitHsone

After lunch, we went down to the riverside. There are MyitHsone pebbles / stones everywhere as  you can see in the photo. The MyitHsone is near the top right corner, with the Malikha joining it from the left to right. There are several shops on the bank of the MyitHsone, but we already had lunch up on the main bank.


The MyitHsone

You can see the MayKha beyond the rocks forming the MyitHsone near the rock in the rear. The rock is the beginning of the AyeYarWaddy.


The narrator / photographer at MyitHsone

You can see the MayKha on the right of the photo, joining the MyitHsone beyond the rock in the river. It became the AyeYarWaddy near the rock.


Aung Ko Oo at MyitHsone

AKO had been to the MyitHsone earlier, while on his duty to the village nearby, but in Waing Maw township, that is on the eastern shore of the AyeYarWaddy. He and a Health Assistant travelled by motorbike from Waing Maw to that village via Myitkyina as travel from the west side is easier. They crossed the BalaMinHtin bridge and went along the MyitHsone (Sumprabum / Ledo) road


the water is not so clear


ako was handling an elongated stone as if he were “NgyokeHsone Htauung” / pounding with a pestle in the previous photo and I had him in the same pose again



and the pose of “pounding” became a good idea


MyitHsone pagoda

we did not have the time to get there

and had to Phuu from a distance


boat transport at MyitHsone

the boats / shaw tels at MyitHsone are very powerful

they come from Myitkyina to the MyitHsone and then up the MayKha to the gold mining areas

the area is rich in gold


the wake of the shaw tels at MyitHsone


the MyitHsone stones

it must have taken years and years for these stones to become rounded by the erosion of water, in river bed condition

the Ayeyarwaddy would have been flowing a long time


Pyone in water

this is as far as Pyone got into water at MyitHsone


NW in water

I got more into the water

the water was not very cold as when I was in Myitkyina during the rainy season in 1975

then, when I stepped into the water at the riverside, ankle deep, I had to get out quickly because it was icy cold

but local children were swimming in the river

maybe it is due to global warming

the Cold season this year is not cold

not even cold, but hot in November

is this year La Ninya?

The bad girl playing tricks

While the bad boy, the El Nino is away

dear all

I have to apologize to you all

that I did not anticipate swimming at all in my plan for the trip

and had not included a swimming trunk

or shorts

How very silly of me

Getting dotty at this age

I went on the trip with the barest amount of clothes

as I have to carry for P as well

with no son to help me carry in the first and last part of the trip

when I was on duty at the ShweWarChaing LuYeChun 1982 Camp

as Medical Officer

I had group photo taken with 2 teachers (males of course; I had photo taken with the mermaid at the defence guest house, Sandoway, but that is another story)

one from Lashio college, and one from a Chin High School

the 3 of us in swimming trunks

on the beach at Sandoway, actually ShweWarChaing

another teacher remarked on seeing the photo

ThonePyut TaKyat

with the inflation

I do not know what TaPyut will cost now

but I believe it will be over 1 kyat

maybe over 10 K

as there is scarcity of small notes

even a 50 K note is scarce

and so dirty and worn out


Deeper in water, but not in trouble

the water was not very cold

just nice and cool


walking in rapid flowing water

the water flow was very fast where I bathed

look at the ripples caused by the rapid water flow

I had difficulty wading

and was drawn along at a time when I laid down at knee depth

I had difficulty getting back to shore

you are lucky you will be seeing me again

or unlucky


I might probably experience the 3 gorges of the AyeYarWaddy


[when I was with the m.v. Road to Mandalay, I witnessed a corpse going past us one morning while we were at the Shwe Kyet Yet jetty

that day we went downriver and passed it on the way

the next day at Bagan mooring site, we witnessed it again passing us

that was the last I saw the corpse

no one seems to be interested in getting it out of the Ayeyarwaddy

I heard that whenever a corpse is seen in the river near the bank near the border of 2 townships, the police tried to push it off so that they will not have to report and open a case]


both in water

I reached P at last


I got in deep water with P (just a pun)


and played around, testing the flow rate

the flow was quite fast


the shaw tel in close view

they are powerful

and the main mode of transport to the gold mines


I tried pounding too

to be Khit Hmi in style with ako


shaw tel in close view


I was collecting stones when photographed unawares


MyitHsone stones I collected for photographing

the MyitHsone pebbles / stones are very beautiful indeed

and we all will miss them after the completion of the MyitHsone dam

they look better when wet

it must have taken ages for them to break up from rocks and eroded by the elements of nature to reach this shape

only to be submerged and lost by the MyitHsone dam


after my bath

actually, I did bring my longyi

but because I am used to carrying an extra set of clothes

just in case

and therefore could change back



MyitHsone stones

the time was late afternoon

and the photo was taken against the light

which is good for the stones

but not good for ako

but we did not have time to wait til next morning to take this view




The MyitHsone view again, with the characteristic rounded rocks on the foreground. The beginning of the great AyeYarWaddy and the InJinYan on the opposite shore in between the MayLi Kha and the May Kha rivers.

My friend Ko Khin Hla said that in 1981, it took a whole day to travel from Myitkyina to the MyitHsone, whereas it now takes only 2 hour by car because the road is not so good. Otherwise, it will be a 1 hour ride only.

Ko Khin Hla had to walk for 8 days from the MyitHsone to get to the InJin Yan town.


a close up view of the MyitHsone


Nyi Win on the bank of the MyitHsone

It is a strange phenomena that the MyitHsone stones occur only at the western side of the MyitHsone. Maybe U Soe Lwin and Ko Ko will be able to enlighten me and others about it. I understand that rocks break up into stones and they become rounded by erosion of the wind and water.

However, I saw many types of stones there. Is it a place where stones were deposited when the glaciers melted a long long time ago?


Pyone and Aung Ko Oo beside a local boat

Kachin long house at MyitHsone


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