Little Tibet in Myanmar

The view was stunning: From the summit at 5150 metres (16,895 feet) above sea level, snow-capped peaks could be seen in all directions, dazzling against a deep blue sky. Looking north, there were Hkakaborazi and Gamlangrazi, Southeast Asia’s highest mountains, some 700m higher than our vantage point.

little-tibet-myanmar-1 

Below us was a relatively broad valley at 4300m with a kilometre-long dark blue lake in the centre. We could see a tiny snow trail leading from the pass below, winding its way toward China and Tibet. We heard there was a trading post a couple of days’ walk away in the very high mountains. There, medical roots and herbs from the Himalayas could be exchanged for salt, tea and consumer products. The TVs and pocket radios we had seen in the villages we had passed through had come from there.

The day before, we had arrived at our base camp at about 4500m. It had taken us some 145 kilometres (90 miles) of arduous trekking to get there, following the course of the rivers on rugged, small trails, crossing hundreds of smaller and larger streams and dozens of slippery, flimsy bamboo bridges, some 80m long and high above the foaming rivers.

Two weeks before, our local guide had welcomed us at Puta-o airport in northern Kachin State. From there we continued with a gang of young motorcycle riders who took pride in taking the muddy trails and river crossings at top speed. They dropped us off at the small village of Gawle, our muscles aching from keeping balance. Next day we crossed a ridge to the village of Pangnamdim on the Tamai River.

Our core group was composed of four: two Austrians with a passion for the Himalayas; U Ah Yin, a local Rawang, born in the area, fleet and steady of foot despite his 70 years; and a cook.

We also engaged local porters, as everything we needed had to be carried with us.

With the winter paddy fields ripe for harvest and the November 2015 election only days away, to find the 10 or so porters we needed turned into quite a task.

The footpath from Pangnamdim is narrow, rugged and slippery, and – high above the river – often dangerous. For the first week we traversed thick forest, falling into a routine of walking, packing and unpacking, stopping for simple meals.

Eight days on the road brought us to the village of Gawai, one of the most remote polling stations in the country and catering to 28 eligible voters. In the evening we sat jam-packed in the house of the village head, watching election reports from all over the country on the village television.

The next day we reached Dazungdam village, from where we turned northwest toward the Seinkhu valley. Here we took on eight cheerful boys and girls in their early 20s as porters. Our admiration for their speed and sure-footedness on the slippery path, and their easy-going and fun attitude, only grew along the way. Their high spirits were tempered only when temperatures dropped far below zero. Our cook could set up a kitchen anywhere and feed 15 people from a single wok, morning, noon and night.

Around the fire in the evenings, we spoke about the mountains, the people, the opportunities and concerns. “The worst would be if they built a road. Then all this would be gone. On the other side of the border there is already nothing left,” said U Ah Yin.

Conservation is already important. Apart from a mongoose that crossed our trail we did not see any wild animals. Being in the Hkakaborazi National Park, which is considered a global biodiversity hotspot, we had hoped to see some larger animals such as deer or takin, or at least some bigger birds. But even smaller birds were rare. Mostly what we saw was leeches, sand flies and a few gigantic ticks. Every villager we met carried a slingshot or a crossbow with poisoned arrows.

Neither did we see a single snake, though these forests are a serpent paradise. The American herpetologist Joe Slowinski died in 2001 in the remote village of Rat Baw from the bite of the deadly multi-banded krait, an account detailed in Jamie James’ nonfiction book The Snake Charmer.

Dazungdam marked the last village mainly inhabited by the Rawang, an ethnic Kachin tribe of some 60,000 to 90,000 people. The path then turned steep and much rougher than before, marking a different and more alpine zone. Over the next two days we climbed every day for at least 1000m. Finally, after 11 days of walking, we entered the world of the Himalayas and with it, the Little Tibet of Myanmar.

Mading (2550m) was the first Tibetan village we reached, via three lofty bamboo bridges and a number of climbs along ladders and ropes. Colourful prayer flags welcomed us. The Tibetan homes were built to withstand a much harsher climate than the bamboo Rawang houses farther down.

The houses were surrounded by corn and barley fields, and draft cattle ploughing the soil. We stopped in the house of the local lama, and over butter tea, hot milk and roasted corn inquired how best to reach Malikhurazi (4907m), our destination.
What we learned was heartening and discouraging at the same time. The villagers consider Malikhurazi, which is the source of the Malikha River, a sacred mountain, placed by Lord Buddha himself. Any animal or human approaching too close will fall sick or die. We decided to scout for other peaks farther up the valley.

Two days later we set up a base camp at a soft plateau above the Seinkhu valley from where we continued, walking slowly in the high altitude, to Lama La, the high pass at about 5050m. There, under the fluttering Tibetan prayer flags and looking down on majestic peaks in India, Myanmar and China, we realised that most of the unnamed peaks we had seen on Google Earth were out of reach. To scout them properly and find a safe access route would have taken at least another two or three days. We opted for a smaller peak adjacent to the pass with an ascent over a rocky stone field and a final steep ridge climb. We solemnly built a stone man on the summit, placed a flag beneath it with dates and names, and claimed the peak as “Austriacorazi”.

And then it was back to civilisation. Soon swallowed up again by the tropical forest and confined by the rhythm of the river trail, the descent was as exhausting as the climb, though nothing could dampen our happiness. How many places on earth are still so remote, so unspoiled and so unexplored? We felt honoured to have experienced its isolation, distinctiveness and beauty.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that in the Himalayas there are a number of hidden, mystical and outstandingly beautiful places called beyuls – sacred places that can be reached only through hardship, and where life is said to survive even if the rest of the world were destroyed. It is a nice thought that in the Himalayas such a hidden valley exists, adding another piece to the jigsaw puzzle that makes up the many faces of Myanmar.

By Christian Hainzl   |   Friday, 26 February 2016

Credit : Myanmar Times

Mergui Princess Cruise1

mergui-08

Mergui Princess Cruise (1) is newly live aboard which can be accommodated maximum 6 passengers. All cabins onboard are air-conditioned and offering great sea view. She has one queen size bed and one bunk bed room with en suite bathroom are on the main deck and one twin bed room without en suite bathroom is on the upper deck.

Read More...

Mergui Princess Cruise

Mergui Princess Cruise 1

Mergui Princess is a fast and comfortable liveaboard with 3 air-conditioned master bed rooms with bathroom attached, 2 air-conditioned king size bed rooms, 3 air-conditioned twin bunk bed rooms which can accommodate 16 clients and 5 crew members. It is 80 feet long.

 

Don't Miss it

Kayaking

5 Days - 4 Nights 

Kawthaung, 115 Island, Nyaung Wee Island, Myauk Ni Island, Ranong for Shopping

Feel sand, sun and sea and enjoy shopping.

 

Book Now

Accommodation

Salone Boat

Myanmar Andaman Resort is located on Fork (Macleod) Island in Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago, Southern part of Myanmar (Burma) at Latitude 10 10' and Longitude 97 58' and 40 nautical miles from Kawthaung (Victoria Point) and Ranong, Thailand and 160 nautical miles from Myeik (Mergui). Myanmar Andaman Resort is designed to meet the requirements of those who love to enjoy sun, sand, sea and nature on the beach / island and as well as to take part in activities of Marine Eco Tourism.

Read More

SY Wanderlust

sy-wanderlust-1

51' Wooden Ketch Rigged Trimaran professionally built and maintained. Eight passengers in 2 double and 2 single cabins.

Read More...

 

Sea Horse

sea-horse-1 photo

The Sea Horse provides all the comfort divers may need. Guests will find comfortable accommodation 4 air conditioned private double berth cabins.

Read More ....

 

SY Meta IV

Meta 4 copy.jpg

Our flagship Meta IV was designed by the naval architect Thomas E. Colvin, who gave the vessel her beautiful shape and robust hull.

Read More .....

 

Our Social Bookmark

FacebookMySpaceTwitterGoogle BookmarksRSS FeedPinterest
Pin It

Instagram

Instagram 


View Our Visitor

Dive Sites - Myanmar (Burma)

under water index

The Mergui Archipelago and the remote Burmese Banks are today the "must" for every serious sea lover. Myanmar opened its rich waters to foreigners in 1997, after a closed period of over 50 years.

Read more

Diving Information

Myanmar(Burma) is home to a vast number of islands, coral reefs and banks, all of which lie to the north and west of Thailand. Because of the distance to Myanmar's most popular dive areas-the Mergui Archipelago and the Burma Banks-dive excursions are limited to live-aboards based out of Phuket, Thailand, and Kawthaung, Myanmar(Burma).

Read More

SY Raja Laut

RajaLaut_Burma_Islands_beache

The Raja Laut is a magnificent gaff-topsail schooner built in the tradition of the 19th century Baltic traders. The 100 ft hull is entirely built of iron wood.

Read More .....

 

Diving Trip One

diving 11 copy

Trip M1 (USD 1071)
 Mergui Archipelago, Twin Island & Shark Cave
  6Days/ 5 Nights (18 Dives)

 Read More

Diving Trip Two

Diving Trip Two

Trip M2 (USD 1230)
(North Mergui Archipelago, Black Rock)
7 Days/ 6 Nights (22 Dives)

 Read More

Namjai Sport Fishing Boat

Namjai 1

Sport fishing Boat around Burma Bank

Read More ....

 

Sea World - 1

sea-world-1-1

Providing all the comfort divers need. All accommodation onboard is air-conditioned and located on the main deck, offering great seaviews.

Read More....

 

M/V SEA WORLD

sea-world

Sea World is brand new wooden boat, is build in 2007. We carefully designed for all purpose of liveaboard safari,

Read More.....