Monday, September 15, 2014

Kekku: Thousands of Stupas around a Pagoda -
a Magical Place

See the locations on Kekku Pagoda Google Map

Picture by jo.schz

Kekku Pagoda: Also: Kakku Pagoda and Kekku Myaw Daw Pagoda. An only lately discovered magical place. Two hours by car from Taungyi, a turn in a corner into a valley leads you straight to thousands of small pagodas clustered close to each other overlooking the Hopong Valley. Huge banyan trees that surround the pagoda compound. The stupas are thought to have been built in the 16th century. The legend says that the first pagodas were created by King Alaungsithu, the 12th century King of Bagan. Kakku counts more than 2400 stupas. In 1918 the monk U Thawna form the nearby village of Naung Hke registered a total of 2402pagodas. Many figures - angels, bird-men, musicians, dancers and floral designs - have been carved in stucco and originally brightly painted. A red additive in the stucco gives the figures an almost natural flesh-tone. The stupas stand around the main pagoda Paya Kyaukhpyugyi with a relic of Buddha. The pagoda is a testament of the religious devotion of the Pa-Oh people.
Kekku pagoda festival is usually held during March, during the fullmoon day of Tabaung. Then the Pa-O people come to pay homage to the pagoda in their best costumes. Tens of thousands of pilgrims come from all over the region. Hundreds of monks gather to recite the sutras on the morning of the Full Moon Day. The people offer food to the monks and bring candles and cakes to the shrines and wrap the images in small saffron-coloured robes. There are daily traditional performances by dancers and musicians and many food stalls set up for the festival market. After the full moon of Tabaung the festival is over. Read more by Hpone Thant. Read also this history of Kekku Pagodas.

Kekku Pagoda can be reached by the paved road from Taunggyi (42 kilometres) and during dry season by rougher roads over the mountains from Inle Lake. There ist a restaurant near the entrance of the pagoda. Tours often also lead to a Pa-O-Village nearby.

Picture by jo.schz

Picture by Michael Geminder

Read more about Kekku
See more pictures of the Kekku stupas and of a Pa-O village.
Get an impression on Youtube

The price for a taxi from Nyaung Shwe to Kekku is 55000 Kyat. You have to book a guide (5 USD) for visiting Kekku.

More discoveries around Inle Lake:
Inle Lake - where people live on the water
Hotels and Resorts around Inle Lake and in Nyaung Shwe - and Reviews by Guests
Nyaung Shwe Restaurant Picks
Wine tasting around Inle lake
Kalaw - the former British Colonial Town and the Colours of the Shan Hills
Pindaya Caves - a fascinating Pilgrimage Site

Sunday, September 14, 2014

International Airlines flying to Myanmar -
Bangkok Airways flies from Chiang Mai to Mandalay

Picture by plynoi

Chiang Mai - Mandalay: Bangkok Airways has direct flights on Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday, starting from October 26 in 2014. Bangkok Airways also operates daily flights out of Suvarnabhumi to the capital of Myanmar, Naypyidaw, and flights to Mandalay.

Chiang Mai - Yangon: Bagan Air flies two times a week on Thursday and Sunday. Golden Myanmar Airlines flies three times a week since October 2014 on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

From November 1 in 2013 Nok Air has started a service from Bangkok Don Mueang to Yangon, with two flights daily.

Meanwhile Air Asia offers flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport to Yangon and Mandalay. Air Asia offers a free shuttle bus from the airport in Mandalay to the Railway Station.

THAI Smile, the budget line of Thai Airways International, flies five times a week between Bangkok and Mandalay since April.

MAI Myanmar Airlines International See the Route Map. They offer Visa on arrival for flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Cambodia) and Guangzhou (China). MAI is majority owned by Kanbawza Bank chairman U Aung Ko Win, with the government holding a minority stake.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has increased its flight frequency between Tokyo and Yangon from October 2013 to seven per week.

Nok Air has stopped flights from Mae Sot to Mawlamyine: Mae Sot - Mawlamyine (Moulmein) and Mae Sot - Yangon: The Thai carrier Nok Air in 2013 opened two new daily flight routes into Myanmar. Mawlamyine is the Mon State capital. The flights had started on September 1. The way to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, got much shorter. A route to Yangon was to start on October 1. Both routes were operated by a Saab 340B turboprop, capable of carrying 34 passengers. Meanwhile only the route Mae Sot - Yangon is still operated.

So the competition among the airlines is intense, what is resulting in very attractive promotions - see the homepages of the airlines.

Read more:
The Domestic Airlines in Myanmar and their Safety Record

Monday, September 1, 2014

What about my Mobile Phone in Myanmar?

Picture by abrinsky
At Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Now more and more international phone companies offer roaming services in Myanmar with local partners. Your chance is growing, that you get a net with your mobile phone, when you arrive at Yangon Airport ore somewhere else from abroad.

International roaming in Myanmar is available for example for customers of Aircel (India), AIS (Thailand), M1 and Singtel (Singapore), Orange (many countries), Swisscom (Switzerland), Telkomsel (Indoesia) and Viettel (Vietnam). You can check the availability of phone services for your country at Myanma Post and Telecommunications.

If your phone company has no roaming service, you can do this: With a unlocked Mobile Phone you can hurry to a shop and get a Sim Card for Myanmar. International calls will be possible, international SMS not. Pansodan Street and Merchant Street in Yangon are recommended for SIM card shopping because there are many mobile phone shops.

Micro SIM cards (for use in iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and other smart phones) are now available in Myanmar, but most phone shops can also cut normal SIM cards to fit into a Micro SIM slot.