Visit to Than Taung Gyi, Myanmar, March 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.

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2 Responses to “Visit to Than Taung Gyi, Myanmar, March 2017”

  1. RyanC Says:

    Sounds like it was an quite the experience!
    the photos are really nice – and provides great insight into the culture you experienced!

    • nyiwin Says:

      The trip was nice experience. The area was not safe to travel until armistice was agreed some time ago. I am a Myanmar and I am used to the culture. However, the drive, mountain views, walk around the town and the climb up the mountain was a good experience. Expatriates have found this road up the 4000 ft town and I met about 50 of them jogging up hill the day I went. They are mainly from the NGOs and Embassies, but many locals also have been jogging with them

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