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Trip reports - Two weeks road trip to Chin state in Jan 2012

Our tour leader and guide Ko Win Cho (Bagan) led a two weeks driving trip to Chin state of western Myanmar hills in January 2012. The trip started and ended in Bagan. The private small group tour was an adventure passing through different cultures, climates, landscapes and lives of peoples. The trip begun with driving and river crossing in Myanmar's central lowland around the junction of Ayeyarwaddy and Chindwin rivers. They stopped for sightseeing Pakhan Gyi ancient wooden monastery in Pakhangyi town, at few other villages.

After a night stop in Monywa, a town on Chindwin river bank, they continued to the west to Kalay. They passed through the region with current and former mine operations, copper mines, fish ponds formed by former mineral and metal mining activities on the western bank of Chindwin river.

Before they arrived at Kalay Wa myo (town) they crossed Myit Thar river by a bridge; then they drove further west to Kalay myo where they stopped for another night.

The driving to Tedim (Tiddim) on the zip-zap road in the hills was full of events. The road was not very good, even though it has been improved from many years ago, we passed by and stopped at small villages with wooden houses and small food shops. Over loaded trucks and passenger buses occasionally came down and up. The traffic was still relatively quiet.

Chin state mountains are generally steeper compared to the hills in Shan state in the East. Villages are connected to each other and to the car road by foot paths. The road building amd repair works in Chin state is a constantly continuing activities. Major towns like Kyi Kha and Ton Zang in the north near India border, Tedim (Tiddim), Falam, Hakha, Matupi, Mindat have been linked with car and truck roads. These roads are supposed to be all weather highways; however we have seen many sections of the mountain road either damaged or in very bad conditions.

Ethnic Chin peoples (there are several different tribes) more or less live a simple life. They do farming and trading of goods. Some still hunt wildlife. There are a lot of things we need to learn and properly record about cultures and life style of these peoples, their languages, their artifacts and hand-made products used at home and at work, homes and houses, history, and their philosophy and ways of thinkings, belief systen. Universities, colleges and high schools from different parts of Myanmar need to send teachers, students and researchers for study and recording as well as to create closer communication among hundreds of different tribes of the country.

Farm products from this area are usually for domestic consumption. Forest products have been cut down for selling. Slash and burn farming, use of fire wood, timber extraction and lack or proper reforestation have been blamed for the loss of jungle cover, soil erosion and environmental damages.

During our trip we stayed at small guesthouses and monasteries. We also spent few days at the larger towns: Tedim, Falam, Hakha, Matupi and Mindat for walking tour of the areas and went for house visits to communicate with the local folks.

A lot of educational and health promotion as well as proper and gradual development must be done. Tourism should be limited to occasional small grupes to conserve the local life style, tradition, unity, ownership, landscape and architecture. Senses and sounds of the Chin life should last forever.

View Jan 2011 Chin state trip in a larger map

Chin state map - our trip route

Zaw Win Cho (Bagan)

More photos from travels and trips in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar