The group woke up with the cold of the morning. This stop
was the coldest of all during our trip. Mountains close to our camp were
covered in fog.
Drivers checked their cars
carefully to make sure nothing happened during the last leg of the trip. Some
were washing their cars and more surprisingly, some were showering in that cold
water. Others were cleaning the trash around the huts.
We were exciting to meet the local
people of the Ganan region. Drivers gathered their cars at the gate of CBT site.
We ate breakfast at the nearby restaurant.
Those who arrived first ordered
fried khawbote and coffee and tea.
Normally khawbote is eaten with
sugar, but here people eat it with egg and tomato curry.
After one group member took a
chance and ordered Gadu fried rice, it was found to be so delicious that one by
one so many of the group ordered Gadu fried rice that the shop couldn’t keep up
with our demand. Then people had to get the fried rice by themselves. Unlike
fried rice in Yangon, Gadu fried rice is prepared with ground nut and pickled
mustard and tasted very delicious. Here members from Myanmar Tourism Promotion
discussed with the locals connected to the CBT how to develop tourism around
At 9:15 a.m., we left for
Banmauk to buy some necessary items and then left for Ganan.
We were driving on the Banmauk-Pinlebu
road when we saw a flagstaff with three giant spirit statues—too attractive for
us not to stop and gaze for a while. The life-sized spirit statues were over 6
feet high and made of teak and said to be over 200 years old. There were four
statues originally – one each for east, west, south and north but now only three
were left for one had decayed and vanished over time.
There are two Gadu
indigenous areas: Sattaw and Mawtaik. There are 36 Gadu villages with over
15,000 people in total in Banmauk Township. Moreover, there are 34 Gadu
villages in Indaw Township, 12 villages in Pinlebu Township and two in Katha
Township. The village we are now is a Gadu village named Sattaw Konyoegyi.
‘‘This is a symbol representing
nine districts of Gadu Sattaw. This was built with piles, not just a mere
dug-and-placed one,’’ U Aung Win Tin, leader of Kadu village Sattaw Konyoegyi,
told My Magical Myanmar.
The next group of statues of Mawtaik
County is at the corner of the wood near Myauk Maw Village, in Pinlebu Township
and only three of them might be left, U Aung Win Tin guessed.
Near these spirit statues were
some small limed and gilted pagodas built by the abbots who lived at the
village. We left the place after about 15 minutes after we had taken enough
From tar road to soil road and soil to tar
Some parts of the road would
change suddenly from being built of tar to soil. The leading car would have to radio
the rest following it as a warning. In some places, the process of road-building
was still going on. About a mile away to Pinkhar village the road went right
through a wide creek.
It was around 11 a.m. when we
arrived at an ideal village—over 22 miles away from Banmauk—where Shani
ethnicities live. Again, we were surprised by the crowd waving small flags and
performing the Shani traditional dance in the act of greeting us.
The officials from Myanmar Tourism Promotion donated K200,000
and stationary to the village. Then we left the village after half an hour.
Again, the crowds were waving us
when we arrived at Naung Kan Village at noon. The group offered K200,000 to the
village and stationary worth K100,000. Then we continued our tour after 15
minutes. Around 12:40 p.m., we arrived at Mamnar in Banmauk Township. Again,
the group made the contribution of K200,000 and stationary worth K 100,000 for
the village’s school. After 15 minutes, we were again on the road.
1 p.m., the group reached a unique spot in Banmauk Township—the spot where
so-called the Mu River starts. To mark the spot where the river originates, an
obelisk stands bearing the letters that read ‘The beginning of the Mu River,
Shwe Kyaung Village, Banmauk Township’. A stone throwing distance from the obelisk
flows a brook near two piles of stone used for building roads.
drove into Shwe Kyaung Village after we took a lot of photos with the obelisk.
At the entrance of the village hung the vinyl banner that said ‘Warmly welcome the
road trip team’ under which the Ganan residents stood waving at us. We, waved
back and drove to the place where we were supposed to have lunch. After driving
about a mile, we reached the place and it was half past one in the afternoon. We climbed up the hillock where the lunch was
prepared. Despite being on the hillock, there were enough shade having big
The organizers arranged two
bamboo tables attached with seats big enough for 26 people to sit at the table.
A few meters away, I saw the residents preparing lunch for us.
Before the lunch tables, a young
lady and man wearing Ganan traditional outfits sat on the bamboo bedstead. The
young man poured green tea from a bamboo pot into bamboo pot and the young lady
handed it to each of us.
With the amazing smell, the
green tea tasted different. I later learned that it was made with bamboo leaf
not with tea leaf. They don’t usually drink green tea from traditional tea
leaves. The bamboo green tea is said to be good for urine-related diseases.
We sat at the tables and caught
our breath after drinking the unique tea. In the enamel plates on the bamboo
tables, locals placed rice packed with leaves. Once we were sitting at the
table, they brought us traditional curries which they had prepared for us.
The Ganan cuisines were very
delicious and we were also served dessert. We took photos with the local people
and then we visited the Ganan traditional weaving workshops.
Ganan children’ hairstyle
The Ganan children have a cute
traditional hairstyle—the hair is shaved everywhere but on the fontanel. Boys
wear this hairstyle until they novitiate into the Buddhist order so you can
know a boy’s age – and hence whether they have been initiated into a Buddhist
order or not – by looking at his hair.
You can trace the history of the
village to the Bagan era. Around 536-572 AD, the king Narapati Sithu on his
tour of water routes reached the place where the Mu and Mitta creeks meet (now
Laiksaw village). He saw people living in Kana—the pavilion—and they became Ganan,
according to the book named ‘Beauty of Gadu and Ganan,’ by award-winning author
Maung Kyaw Shin.
The Ganan area with 24 villages
and 23 monasteries has an area of 14 square miles and is located in Katha
District and Banmauk Township, 40 miles west of Banmauk and 35 miles south from
We left Shwekyaung Village at 3
p.m. and arrived at Paytar Village after 20 minutes drive. We were greeted
again by the awaiting residents by the side of the road and donated K200,000
and stationary worth K100,000. At 3 p.m., we left for Nanzar village.
It was around 4 p.m. when we
arrived at Nanzar village where almost everyone came out to welcome us. Seeing
the heartfelt smiles on their faces, I thought that they seem to believe that having
guests at their village would make the village improve. The village, despite
being in a remote place, has some two-storey brick houses like those in Yangon.
200 year-old monastery
We went to
Zaytawan Monastery of Nanzar village first, which is one of the four oldest
monasteries in the Ganan area. It was built in 1140 ME (Myanmar Era) and gilted
on 6th Waning Day of Wagaun, 1197 ME.
It was delightful to see all the
valuable pieces of heritage such as ancient Buddha statues, palm leaves used
for writing, furniture and antiques which were well-preserved.
The base of most Buddha images
is lotus, but the ones in the Kanan monastery had a tiger, horse and elephant. The
poles of the building of monastery are gilted and annexes of the main building
were adorned with beautiful wood carvings.
We admired the preserved historical
heritage. In the middle of the hall of the building, there was a big ten-feet
high Buddha image on four elephant statues.
Members of our group donated
K200,000 and other materials to the abbot of the monastery. The abbot led us to
the 56 ancient pagodas—one big pagoda and 55 smaller pagodas around it. There was
some damaged parts in the middle of the pagodas – signs that someone broke them
and tried to steal valuable things enshrined in the pagodas. The damage was
done 60 years ago by the Ba Ka Pa insurgents—Ba Ka Pa means Burma Communist
Party—according to the abbot.
‘‘It is said to have been built
in Konbaung era by the young of this village,’’ said the abbot Ven.
Then we left the village to see
traditional Kanan houses; there were only four traditional houses in the whole
village. When we arrived at U Aung Lin’s house, one of the four houses, we saw
that the host prepared food for the guests.
house is circular in shape with long legs and a thatched roof and around 50
feet wide. It is now over 38 years since it was built in 1341 ME. When you are
going build a Ganan traditional house, you have to choose the date for the ground
breaking ceremony; then you build it step by step. They used around 40 poles of
hardwood for a single house. It took about one month to have it finished with
the help of other villagers.
don’t build this kind anymore. But not me, I try to preserve it as it’s a
traditional one,’’ said U Aung Lin, owner of the house.
we stopped at a house which has a weaving workshop. We left the village around
4:15 p.m. and arrived at our next stop Haw Yaw Village at 5:15 p.m. where we
planned to sleep. We first saw the abbot of Haw Yaw village ancient monastery.
Then left for the monastery named Kawwidaryone Haw Yaw monastery and arrived at
6 p.m. The monk arranged for us to stay at in some brick buildings. Some of us
made ourselves at home at the rest-house in front of the monastery and most of
the male members made tents on a hillock near the monastery to make a camp fire
Kanan dinner and
Around 7 p.m., we
went to the place where we would eat our dinner. The temperature at Haw Yaw Village
was the same as at Zalon Mountain CBT. The plastic chairs placed for us were
wet with frost
When we gathered at the dinner
party, the big fire was ignited. When the dinner started, Ganan ladies started
dancing. It was a great dinner since we had had such a long day.
After the entertainment program,
the group donated K2.5 million and U Htet Yee Lin, member of Sagaing Region
Tourism Development Committee, donated K1.5 million for the develop of the area
and Nine One, the pop singer who took part in the trip, entertained the locals