Community Highlights Asia Myawaddy

Myawaddy is located in the Kayin state of Myanmar bordering Thailand’s Mae Sot province. Border towns or provinces always keep me excited because not only it provide the opportunity to cross overland between two countries but also allow travellers to embrace the different culture, food, lifestyle, languages and people interaction.

The 999 Govt Bus for Bkk-Mae Sot with complementary snack

Arrival at Mae Sot Bus Terminal & songtheaw to Tak Immigration

Tak Immigration

Crossing the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge to Myawaddy

Myawaddy Immigration

Mywawaddy border town

My presence at Myawaddy was to travel on the road from Mae Sot, Thailand to Mandalay, Myanmar where I then continued my road journey onwards to Bagan, the ancient city of Myanmar and then to Nyaung Shwe better known as Inle Lake. While most agreed that flying from Bangkok to Mandalay would be easiest, hassle free and fastest mode of transport, travelling on the road will never be the same. The overall travel adventure and experiences encountered on the road will provide more insights, excitement and fun that most of the time, flying cannot be.

A cup of hot chai on arrival early morning at Myawaddy with Mr Beauty

Embarking on a half day tour with Mr Beauty

Well, my initial plan was to travel straight from Myawaddy to Mandalay upon arrival from Mae Sot. However, it appeared that this overland border crossing would have been different for this trip. In most cases, I usually had bypassed border town due to lack of time. But, such unplanned moments or encounter were some of the things that one will come across when travelling on road. Some say, this is what travelling is all about.

The Mae Sot-Myawaddy border crossing process was somewhat a breeze. On the Myawaddy side, the officers were sort of approachable and accommodative. As for most nationals, a tourist visa is required to enter Myanmar. The e-visa is the most convenient way to get the required document to visit Myanmar. All you need is to go to , fill up the required information including place of stay with address, upload a recent photo which can be taken instantly from mobile phone or tablet and then make a USD 50 payment. Upon approval, the e-visa which valid for 28 days will be sent to the email address provided. This need to be printed out and presented at immigration during entry to Myanmar.

The temple located at the foot hill on the outskirt of Myawaddy

Arriving at the Mae Sot bus terminal, the songtheaw, taxi with two rows of long benches on the rear of the vehicle to Tak Immigration costs THB 50, which will depart upon full passengers. At the Tak Immigration, after the Thai immigration clearance, a walk across the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge over Moei river for few hundred metres, the Myawaddy Immigration is located at the other end of the bridge. There was a section where the Myanmar officers will be waiting to provide the arrival cards where personal details and the e-visa information required to be filled up. Upon completion, I was directed to room number 4 where the border crossing officers were there to do the clearance. Passport will be stamped, the e-visa which has a barcode will be scanned and instant photo was taken. And I was then all clear to enter Myawaddy and Myanmar.

The Golden Pagoda

Be aware that touts were wandering around even inside the Myawaddy immigration area. Of course if you know very well or done your research, you will always avoid such nuisance. As my next destination is to Mandalay, I need to purchase a bus ticket. A tout who managed to get hold of me show me the ‘bus station’, after I asked how I could get there. This was the same person who was kind enough to show me room number 4 when I was to have my passport stamped in to Myanmar at the immigration.

The Myawaddy town after the border crossing clearance was a border town full of activities. From what can be seen upon stepping my foot there, the town is up and coming. Much of the developments can be seen with contemporary coffee house, proper shops, buildings and private cars and other transportation vehicles around the town. I was directed to a shop with a booth placed outside the shop located on the side of a small lane slightly away from the main road. A woman was seen manning the booth. While the tout who could speaks English, the woman appeared to be on the opposIte. So it was clear this guy was the intermediary and will also pocket some commission from any done deal. I asked about the bus ticket from Myawaddy to Mandalay and knowing that I arrived from Thailand, he quoted me in baht, at 850. That was about 42,000 kyats with a conversion of THB 100 = 5,000 kyats, quoted from the internet.

The Crocodile Temple (Wat Jorakae)

I did some earlier research and the ticket should cost only about 33,000 kyats or less. So, I thanked him and walked away to the main road while he seemed not wanting to give up until I met this guy by the nick name Mr Beauty. He looked somewhat honest and trustworthy with his appearance. He seemed to already know what I was looking for. As he ushered me to his ‘office’, it was a booth placed on the front of a makeshift with another small building on the rear. As we sat down and chat, he explained that he rented the place with another friend to conduct the business of bus ticket agent and also operate as tour guide. Since my main reason to see Mr Beauty was to get the bus ticket, he quoted me THB 650 for the Myawaddy-Mandalay journey, which was about 31,000 kyats at THB 100 = 4,800 kyats. This lesser forex rate was after I did my exchange with Mr Beauty. Though slightly less than what was quoted in the net, I was alright as the difference most likely made up the profit for him.

After all the deal has been completed, he invited me for tea at his regular tea shop just a walking distance from his office. I ordered the chai or local milk tea while Mr Beauty asked for coffee. We had some chat about everything and anything and he apparently he could converse in Thai as he had been working in Thailand before when he was young. He explained that he had been doing many jobs before he decided to permanently involved in the current job that was to be a bus ticket agent as well as offering side tours in Myawaddy on his bike.

As I have few more hours to spend before the bus departure to Mandalay, Mr Beauty offered me to engaged him for a Myawaddy sightseeing tour for 12,000 kyats, which include few temples and an outskirts tour. I thought, why not since Myawaddy was new to me and I never explore this Mynmar border town before. After paying for the tea and coffee, we were ready to go for the half day tour. The first on the itinerary was to visit the temple on the foot of a hill just outside of Myawaddy town. While on the way there, Mr Beauty pointed up to the hill where the temple was located and said ‘Interested? We are heading there’. It appeared to be kind of dangerous as the hill looked steep to me and I was skeptical and worried while on the way there.

As we were heading up the hill, my worst fear became reality. On engaging the steepest part of the hill, Mr.Beauty lost control of the bike due to failure to change the gear in time. The bike started to roll down as we both struggled to stopped the bike using the foot. In the end, as I lost my balance, I fell from the bike with my rear of my head hit the road while my two elbows bled due to scratches while on the fall down from the bike. Without realising, my right leg also hit the bike exhaust, while Mr Beauty escaped with little wound on his toe. I was lucky to have the helmet strapped over my head else, there could even be more serious injury I thought.

Another pagoda located on higher ground overlooking Myawaddy town with a Bodhi tree within its boundary

The bike was still working and Mr Beauty said it was possible to continue the journey up the hill. I was considered lucky to suffer minor injury though the bleeding left me slightly uncomfortable. We then continued the journey up to the hill temple since we were only hundred metres away. While the temple itself was not exactly magnificent, the temple structure was a little different, resembling the Bhutan version of mountain temple, Taktsang Palphug Monastery. The head of monk for this temple was of Thai nationality and was friendly sort and accommodating. One of his assistant was kind to show me around the temple of which the upper level oversee the Myawaddy landscape.

Next after the hill temple, we head back to Myawaddy town to tour some local temples. From my observations, the temples in Myanmar looked grand no matter its size. The yellowish gold colour of the pagodas indeed created such a feel which made them elegant, awesome and outstanding. This temple known as the Golden Pagoda which located close to the Myawaddy town was similar to that of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon though it was very much smaller. The overall pagoda area was sizeable but the pagoda was definitely magnificent. The surrounding of the temple was also installed with smaller goldish Chedis while the covered walkways, Sala (hut), wiharn and Ubosot come with strong Myanmar style craftsmanship on its roof, which were painted in gold while the walls in maroon.

Local Myanmar food

From the Golden Pagoda, the tour moved on to the Crocodile Temple or Wat Jorakae (Thai). This temple was named as such in view of a large crocodile shape was built on the temple boundary on top of an artificial lake. What was significant about this temple were the lengthy glass display panel that housed the replicas of Buddha and other sculptures that depict the life and teachings of Buddhism. There was also a special room dedicated to the sacred monk that devoted his life in teaching and spreading Buddhism in Myawaddy.

The last on the itinerary was to visit another similar golden pagoda but this one was located slightly above the ground, overlooking a good view of Myawaddy town. What was different about this temple other than it’s located on higher ground, there was also o Boddhi tree within the boundary of the temple amidst a natural surrounding landscape. This temple was equally elegant and beautiful with its outstanding golden chedi. Before the end of the tour, Mr Brown brought me for a local street food for lunch. This stall was not far from the temple and it was simple local food of rice with curries and fresh vegetables and soup. In Myanmar, one of the local food include selection of variety of dishes to complement with rice.

The Myawaddy-Mandalay Bus with large number of other goods being loaded into the bus, typical to all passenger transportation in South East Asia20191202_152138.jpg20191202_152307.jpg20191202_152310.jpg

As I needed to clean up after the tour and the bleeding from the bike accident, I asked permission if Mr Beauty could allow me to take shower at his rented room. ‘No problem’, he said. So, we went back to his rented room which was very close to town. His room was located on upper floor while the ground floor was rented by a couple. The female ran a grocery shop on the front of the room while her husband works in Mae Sot. It was a basic wooden structure with the shared bathroom on the rear of the ground floor. After done with my shower, we sat and chat in Mr Beauty’s room with another 1hour before the bus departure to Mandalay. He prepared a cup of coffee and snacks for afternoon tea. I decided to pay him 20,000 kyats though he quoted 12,000 after considering the medicines and lunch he paid earlier.

As mentioned earlier, the Myawaddy tour was unplanned. This happened after considering the long hours before my departure to Mandalay. And also, as said earlier, such opportunity arises when travelling on the road. All these provide excitement and adventure while moving places on the road. While Myawaddy was just a usual border town, exploring the town did provide some exciting and adventurous experience which were unique in this detour on road to Mandalay.

This featured blog entry was written by kidd27 from the blog Chiang Mai.
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By kidd27

Posted Sun, Dec 22, 2019 | Myanmar | Comments