|Asterism Travels & Tours - Myanmar||Mon state - Mawlamyaing|
States and divisions - Mon state
Mon state is sandwiched between Kayin (Karen) state on the east, the Andaman sea on the west, Bago division on the north and Thaninthayi division on the south. It has a short border with Thailand's Kanchanaburi province at its south-eastern tip. The topography is hills on the east, and coastline, beaches and islands on the west. Main rivers are the Thanlwin and its tributaries: the Gyaing, the Ataran and the Donthami. The Donthami form the border between Mon and Kayin state for a distance. The Ataran is one of the few rivers in Myanmar that flow south to north. The Ataran plain is wide and liable to floods.
The state is located in the hot wet region. Similar to Thaninthari division, Mon state receives rains more months (June till November) than other parts of the country, with a thin cool season of a few months (normally December and January).
The majority of the people are Mon; there are also Kayin, Shan, Pa-O, Bamar and others. Rice is the major crop of lowland areas, and lower slopes of the hills are used for rubber plantation and fruit trees. Rice, rubber, sugar cane, betal nut and coconut are major agricultural products. Fruits of Mon state include durian, mangosteen, pumalo. Around half of the land is covered with forests and timber production is one of the major economy. Fishing also plays a singnificant role in the economy of the state.
Transport and tourism
The road from Yangon to Mawlamyaing (capital of Mon state - also spelled Mawlamyine) is in a usable condition for whole year. The 300 km journey could be finished within 8 hours. Before arrival Mawlamyaing ones need to cross the Thanlyin river by ferry boat which run every half an hour from 0800hrs till sunset. Check locally for the exact time table.
Coming from Yangon, around one hour after crossing the Sittaung river by Sittaung bridge the road arrives at Kyaikhto town which has a turn off road to the famous Kyaikhtiyo pagoda mountains in the north. From the base station there are shuttle trucks which carry people and goods to and from the upper level car-park around 3 km to the Kyaikhtiyo hill-top pagoda built misteriously on a stone at the edge of the cliff at 1100 meters above sea level. It is believed that it was built during the life time of the Lord Buddha. There are a couple of good accommodations on the mountain within walking distance from the pagoda.
Belin and Thaton towns on the road have somewhat interesting pagodas, but overnighting there may be not very convenient since they do not have good hotels that are allowed to take foreign visitors. Thaton is linked to Kayin state's capital of Pha-An by car road.
The train route from Yangon to Moattama (northern side the Thanlwin river mouth across Mawlamyaing) would take around 9 to 10 hours after having stopped briefly at Bago and Thaton.
From Mawlamyaing there are train and cars/buses to the south. The possibilities are you can visit Thabyuzayat (the site of former Japanese era railroad building where POW's had been used), Setse and Kyaikkhami beaches (turn off roads to the west from Thabyuuzayat), and further south to Ye.
After Ye foreign tourists are not allowed to go further south by road or train due to the security reason. The road from Thanbyuzayat to the border at Three Pagodas Pass (border with Kanchanaburi province of Thailand) is also not recommended for foreign visitors.
River travel here is mainly on Thanlwin river. Double deckers and many other types of boats run up-river to Pha-An (capital of Kayin state) and Shwegun. Smaller boats travel upstream (to the south) along the Ataran river to Kya-In-Seik-Gyi town also in Kayin state. The sea route is possible; however ones never know the exact time table and whether not he/she could purchase a place onboard the ship until a couple of days before the departure.