Friday, December 27, 2013

Mingun and its Wonders of the World

See the locations Mingun Google Map

Picture by marhas
Approaching Mingun on Ayeryawady River, with Pahtodawgyi, the unfinished stupa, in the background.

Picture by brussels100
A stairway leading up from the river banks.

Picture by marhas
Colonial-era buildings await you after landing

The Mingun Bell: The biggest functioning bell of the world, at least until 2000. Its weight is around 90 000 kilograms. King Bodawpaya (1782–1819) of Amarapura let it cast between 1808 and 1810. This happened on an island in the middle of the Ayeyarwady River. First a mould of clay was created, smoothed out and then waxed. Designs were made on the waxwork and more clay was applied. The casting of the Bell began on the night of April 29 in 1808. On the girder of the bell the words "Cast on 23 March 1810 in the 28th year of the royal reign" were applied. To achieve a pleasant sound the Bell was cast with a mix of five metals according to the ancient Myanmar tradition: gold, silver, bronze, iron and lead. Before moving the Great Bell to Mingun a 36-foot canal, big enough for two barges, was dug under the Bell. Then the rainy season was awaited, when the river rose and the water filled the canal and raised the barge. The bell then was transported down the river to Mingun among big festivities. There the same canal had been dugged. To raise the bell the canal was filled with earth, what let the remaining water rise. So the bell could be hung to three parallel bars of wood covered with metal plate. Those bars were on two upright posts. After the work had been done, the crafter of the bell was killed. King Bodawpaya wanted to prevent him from creating a bigger bell elsewhere... The earthquake on March 23 in 1839 damaged the supporting construction of the bell. It was resuspended by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in March 1896. The bell was hung to two iron bars supported with steel posts. And the bell was covered over by a Phyatthat, a pavilion of wood with 16 pillars open on all sides. Read more on

Picture by marhas
The pavilion with 16 pillars

Picture by marhas

Picture by marhas
On the way to Pahtodawgyi.

Picture by marhas

Picture by marhas
Fantastic design, fantastic sky.

Picture by marhas
Through the lush garden you glimpse at Pahtodawgyi.

Picture by brussels100

Picture by brussels100

Picture by brussels100

Hsin Byu Me Pagoda: Also: Mya Thein Tan Pagoda and Hsin Phyu Shin Ceti. Just a few hundred metres beyond the Mingun Bell along the main street of Mingun. Built in 1816 by the grandson of King Bodawpaya. The seven terraces of the Paya represent the seven mountain ranges and oceans in between and around Mount Meru with the stupa at the top representing Mount Meru itself.

Picture by antwerpeneR

Friday, November 1, 2013

Get around in Mandalay by Taxi

See the locations on Mandalay Myanmar Google Map

From the Airport to the hotel: This takes around an hour. The company Sein Myanmar offers a shared taxi service for 4000 Kyat for one person. Just go to their desk on the way out of the arrival hall. The normal taxi fare is 15000 Kyat for one person, also avaiable at the desk. Some drivers try to lure you to their cars after you have clamed your baggage. Better go to the desk, pay there and get your receipt.

From Mandalay to Inwa and Amapura: Some drivers offers half day tours for 20 US Dollars according to reports of travellers. Others drive for 35000 Kyat.

We recommend the Taxi Service by Mr. Thi Ha, phone 09-43011581. He's an experienced English speaking guide.

AKS Taxi Service
Loyal Taxi Service
Khaing Gyi Mandalay Taxi Service
Mandalay City Taxi

Mandalay City Tours and cultural tours around Mandalay are offered by Myanmar Upper Land.

Read more:
Mandalay Impressions: Between Pilgrims to a very holy Buddha Image and the unholy Chinese Hunger for Jade
Mandalay Hotel Picks: Reviews by guests
Mandalay Restaurant Picks
Amarapura - the City of Immortality and U Bein Bridge: A day trip from Mandalay
River Cruises from Mandalay to Bagan and Mingun
From Mandalay by train to Gokteik and one of the longest viaducts of the world across a canyon

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ATM in Myanmar: Where you get Kyats with Credit Cards

Picture by m.gifford
One year ago a rare view, now more common, not only in Yangon but also in other cities in Myanmar

With the opening of Myanmar the possibilities to get money from ATM are getting broader. CB Bank has opened ATM, where you can withdraw the Myanmar Currency Kyats with Master Card, Visa, Maestro and Cirrus Card. There are ATM at CB Bank branches and other banks, but also in shopping malls, hospitals and big stores - not only in Yangon but also in Mandalay, Bago, Taungoo and Pyinmana, and at the arrival in Yangon Airport. The limit ist 300 000 kyats three times a day. You cannot take dollars from ATMs. Transaction charges will be 5000 kyats (6 USD) per transaction.

See the locations of ATM on Yangon Google Map
See the locations of ATM on Mandalay Google Map
See the locations of ATM on Bagan Google Map
See the locations of ATM of CB Bank

See the locations of ATM for Mastercard in Myanmar

Still not very broad are the possibilities to pay with credit cards in hotels, restaurants and shops. Read more:
Sacks of Cash in Myanmar Hard to Rout for MasterCard, Visa
Shadow of Decade-old Crisis Looms over Credit Card Plans

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Will the greatest Bell of the World be found in Yangon River and brought back to Shwedagon Pagoda?

Screenshot from Myanmar Focus Daily: The Life of Myanmar Tycoon Khin Shwe

Khin Shwe, a well-known Tycoon in Myanmar, has made a sensational announcement: He is going to salvage the greatest bell of the world, that has sunken into Yangon River more than 400 years ago, reports Khin Shwe told the local journal Snapshot on Monday: “We’ve already hired big ships to salvage the bell. After that — if we can salvage the bell — we will put it on display at Shwedagon Pagoda.”

The legendary bell is believed to be the largest bell that has ever been cast (see depiction). This was done in 1484 by order of King Dhammazedi. He gave the bell as a present to the Shwedagon Pagoda of Dagon (today's Yangon). According to historical texts the bell was cast of 294 tonnes of metal (silver, gold, copper and tin). But in 1608 the Portuguese warlord Filipe de Brito e Nicote, after having sacked the towns of Syriam (now known as Thanlyin) and Pegu (now known as Bago) and extended his power across the Bago River to Dagon, removed the Dhammazedi bell from the Shwedagon Pagoda. His men rolled it down Singuttara Hill to a raft. It should be transported to Syriam. There it should be melted down to produce ships cannons. But the load was two heavy: at the confluence of the Bago and Yangon Rivers, the raft broke up and the bell went to the bottom of the river.

Khin Shwe, who plans now to salvage the Great Bell of Dhammazedi, is the chairman of Zay Kabar Company and a Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) Lower House MP. His company is one of the largest property developers in Myanmar. Earlier efforts to salvage the bell have not succeeded. In July 2010 the Australian documentary film maker Damien Lay reported that “an object was detected by sonar and is only slightly visible above the river floor that is likely to be the King Dhammazedi Bell”. Many people believe that the restoration of the bell to the pagoda will bring good fortune to Myanmar. Khin Shwe is working together with the abbot of the Kyaik Htee Saung Pagoda. And this has a very special reason. He said: “King Dhammazedi was born on a Tuesday and so is the abbot of Kyaik Htee Saung. So, I’m 100 percent confident that this project will be a success.” See a video: The Life of Myanmar Tycoon Khin Shwe.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bombs in Yangon and elsewhere:
Myanmar Police say Karen Businessmen were behind

The police have detained eight suspects following bomb blasts in several states and divisions of Myanmar over the past week. One bomb wounded an American tourist in a room of Trader Hotel in Yangon, reports The police authorities say the businessmen wanted to scare off foreign investors from their resource-rich Karen State.

The police say the homemade bombs found were the same type that the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) used in attacks against the government army over decades of civil war. The KNU signed a ceasefire with the government last year, and a senior general from the KNLA insisted that the rebel group should not be linked to the bombings.

Three people were killed and at least 10 people have been wounded by the bomb blasts. Bomb incidends happened in Sawbwargyigon High Bus Terminal in Yangon, in Namkhan Town in Shan State and in Pegu Division’s Taungoo Town, here in Chan Myae Guest House on October 11, in Shwe Pyae Sone Hotel in Sagaing and at Soon U Ponenyashin Pagoda, in the Sagaing Hills. An unexploded bomb has also been discovered in Mandalay at a bus stop in Pyilonechantha township and one was found at central Mandalay’s Bal Lay Burmese restaurant. Two teenagers were injured by an explosion caused by a device hidden on the underside of a truck in Yangons Thaketa township while one person was wounded when a bomb went off at the Sawbwagyikon bus stop in northern Yangons Insein Township. At Ahlone Township a small mine was found fixed under a table at Western Park 2, an expensive Chinese restaurant in western Rangoon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Myeik Impressions

Picture by Moe Swe
Night Market at Myeik Strand Road

Myeik - historically called Mergui - is still off the usual tourist track. It has great old buildings, a Japanese cemetery, a pagoda situated on a hill overlooking the harbour. Here you get insight into daily life in a coastal fishing and trading port.
Picture by cgnetwork2006
Mergui Resort

Read more about Myeik on

See Andaman Mergui Archipelago

Monday, September 16, 2013

Amarapura - the City of Immortality, U Bein Bridge, Inwa and Sagaing

See the locations on Mandalay Inwa and Sagaing Google Map

Amarapura comes from Pali, it means "City of Immortality". During the Konboung period (1783-1821 and 1842-1859) it was twice the capital of Myanmar. But then Amapura got victim of mortality: In February 1857 King Mindon began building Mandalay as his new capital, 11 km north of Amarapura. He reused material from Amarapura. The palace buildings were dismantled and moved by elephants to the new location, and the city walls were pulled down. Therefore Amapura today is a township of Mandalay, known for silk and cotton weaving and bronze casting.

But Amapura is also famous for the U Bein Bridge: A 1.2 km long wooden footbridge, the longest teak bridge in the world. It spans the Taungthaman Lake. The bridge on 1086 pillars was built from wood reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa. Read: 1000 Amazing Places: U Bein Bridge.

Picture by Greg Walters

Picture by imke.stahlmann
U Bein Bridge

Picture by patrikmloeff

Picture by Andurinha
View from U Bein Bridge

Picture by imke.stahlmann
Wedding on U Bein Bridge

Picture by Mark Abel
U Bein Bridge before 6 am.

Picture by llee_wu
Sunset at U Bein Bridge.

Picture by Stephan Rebernik
Just a moment on U Bein Bridge

Picture by marhas

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda:

Picture by Antoine 49

Picture by Trevor Mills

Picture by Mat Maessen

Picture by Anzoine 49

Picture by Antoine 49

Picture by marhas

Inwa: Formerly Ava, the capital of the Kingdom of Ava. Foundet 1364 here Mjitnge River joins Ayeyarwady River. 1783 King Bodawpaya transfered the capital to Amarapura and let Ava distroy. 1821 his grandson Bagyidaw returned and reconstructed Ava. But in 1841 an earthquake destroyed the city and Amarapura became the capital again. The zigzagged outer walls of Ava are popularly thought to outline the figure of a seated lion.

Bagaya Kyaung: A wooden monastery founded in 1834 by King Mindon, in Innwa.

Picture by Thomas Z H Zhu

Picture by gorbulas_sandybanks

Picture by gorbulas_sandybanks

Picture by gorbulas_sandybanks

Picture by Matt Werner

Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery: Built in 1818. See picture on

Picture by brussels100

Picture by Anandajoti
The basement

Besides Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery you discover Htilaingshin Paya, a recently restored group of stupas dating back several centuries, some to the Bagan period. See picture by samthetax and ceka01 and viedeo by hotshotmonkey.

Picture by gorbulas_sandybanks

Picture by scotted400
Lilyponds in Inwa

Nanmyin Watchtower: A leaning tower. See picture by Dexters Lab.

Picture by antwerpeneR

Yedanasini Paya:

Picture by chenevier

Chinese Joss House - Kuan Yin Temple: The temple was founded in the 18th century. The original temple was destroyed by firein 1810. What you see today dates from 1847. Pictures by John Meckley.

Kyauksein (Jade) Pagoda: The pagoda made entirely of jade is nearing completion. It includes more than 10000 tonnes of the gemstone and is being built at the junction of Ygn-Mdy Expressway and Sagaing-Myitnge Road at an estimated cost of US$ 10.3 million, reports Myanmar Times. The donator Soe Naing plans to donate the pagoda to the government, reported Eleven.


Picture by brussels100
View of Sagaing across Ayeyarwady River

Picture by Anthony Tong Lee
Sagaing Hill

Umin Thounzeh Phaya:

Picture by Tianyake

Picture by Tianyake

Soon U Ponya Shin Phaya:

Picture by Tianyake

Picture by Tianyake

Picture by Tianyake

Kaung Hmu Daw Pagoda: Outstanding this pagoda with egg-shaped design. It has been modeled after the Ruwanwelisaya pagoda of Sri Lanka. The stupa's formal name is Yaza Mani Sula. This signifies Buddhist relics inside its relic chamber. It is said to contain the lower left tooth of the Buddha and 11 hair relics. The construction started in 1636 and was finished in 1648. The dome houses a seated 7.3 meter-high Buddha statute, carved out of white marble. The lowest terrace of the pagoda is decorated with 120 nats and devas. It is ringed by 802 stone lanterns, carved with inscriptions of Buddha's life in three languages: Burmese, Mon and Shan Yuan, representing the three main regions of Toungoo Kingdom.

Picture by dany13

Read more:
Mandalay Impressions
Mandalay Hotel Picks: Reviews by guests
Mandalay Restaurant Picks: Reviews by guests
Get around in Mandalay by Taxi
River Cruises from Mandalay to Bagan and Mingun
From Mandakay by train to Gokteik and one of the longest viaducts of the world across a canyon