Exploring new paths for tourism development around Toungoo by Ko Lwin (Swar)
With peaceful vibes and serene natural beauty, Myanmar has gorgeous lakes, forests, mountains, and seas for retreat and relaxation with the rising number of globe trotters and local travelers, resulting in quest of new and fresh avenues for tourist destinations.
New avenues for tourism development
Born, hailed and raised in Toungoo, the writer of this article would like to cite new and fresh avenues such as that of Toungoo area, Taungdwingyi area, and Yedashe area for creating into new and fresh avenues for tourism development.
Sitting on a place 508 years ago, with magnificent and grandeur with many dynasties, the Toungoo area could be revamped with the remains of the ancient city along with modern design lifestyle for making fresh tourist destinations for developing the tourism industry in the country.
Toungoo (also spelled Taungoo) dynasty was the ruling dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from the mid-16th century to 1752. Its early kings Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung succeeded in reunifying the territories of the Bagan Kingdom for the first time since 1287.
Toungoo and its environ
Famous pagodas namely Shwesandaw Pagoda, Myasigone Pagoda, Laykyun Kandawgyi Pagoda, and many more historically listed pagodas are still there standing majestically, and adding grandeur with moats and ancient city walls making parallel magnificence with colonial architectures, along with the interesting and defiant “Myolaywun” fortress.
Moving towards the east of Toungoo, the beautiful and serene Pathi Dam and Reservoir are located there, adding coolness of water flow amidst pure natural rock near the Pathi River Resort just 13 miles from Thandaung City of popular Kayin State. Hiking uphill along the trails towards the top of a mountain, Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain is one of the hearts of Kayin State.
“Naw Bu Baw Pagoda” welcomed the travelers with her beauty amidst drifting and floating white clouds up and above, showing the beautiful colonial buildings spread across the area. The area embodied with the scenery of green tea plantation, tall rubber trees, pillars of teak trees, edible durian trees, mangosteen trees, pineapples shrubs, and the whole of the area enveloped and laced with the ethnic Kayin national culture and tradition.
Small bamboo houses
Indeed, there is a venue where only a small population inhabited, at the west of Ottwin Township; on the Yoma mountain crossing route namely Ottwin-Paung Khaung motor road leading to magnificent Khabaung Reservoir. Ottwin is the principal town and administrative seat of Ottwin Township, in the Taungoo District in the Bago Region of Myanmar.
The vast reservoir accommodates on her cool surface with small bamboo huts for locals engaging in fishery trade with eye-catching attractions to the visitors in the panoramic backdrops of green and lush mountains.
The Ottwin-Pauk Khaung Yoma cross mountain motor road is leading the visitors to inner forest trails to 20-mile Elephant Sanctuary, the natural home to older elephants, working elephants, mother elephants, and baby elephants inhabiting in the forest. Yangon to Ottwin, 166 miles (266 km) by car and Ottwin to Sein-Ye camp, 20 miles (32 km) by car along Bago Mountain crossing (forest road).
Japanese old military stronghold
Making into popular attraction, the Bago Region Government has planned to transform the environment and surrounding of Nanchon Village in Yedarshay Township into tourist spots with that of the existing old sites on Japanese military camps of Second World War, military bunkers, and military airfields to be showcased to the visitors with the intent to promote the tourism industry. If succeeded, there would be plenty of job opportunities with the most attractive destinations.
In the Toungoo Township, the Kyaytaw Area and Hnasaung Pyaing Area are intertwined with the area and surrounding of Nanchon Village where the Japanese camps had been in war operation, the past events and old scenarios were being remembered by the village old timers and elders.
Ancient Pyu City
Sites and avenues for promotion of tourism industry inside the Yaytarshay Township could be earmarked at Kyweyaing Pyin Village Tract, leading an off-track village trail namely Katpai Village where the Ancient Pyu City was constructed with laterite, brick, and stone about three miles long wall deep inside the thick forest.
Now, the Yaytarshay Kayin Chaung-Leik Tho Motor Road is ready to connect with the Sittoung River Crossing Bridge (Kyweyaing Pyin), and that the forceful waterfalls coming in as divert flow from the eastern rocky mountain would be breathing venue for the visitors.
Waterfalls from diverting the flow
As the intended area for the tourist promotion destinations happened to be in the Forest Reserves, systematic management of the project is very much vital in the allocation of relaxation zones, hotels and restaurants, and retreats.
At the moment, some of the naive locals are taking the lands in their own hands and sold them out to other interested parties, and that the local people of the Kayinchaung Village asked and advised the responsible officials of the regional government to make field visits to check realities on the ground about the irregularities. In the same area, the inter-district motor roads namely Loikaw-Toungoo linkage can arrive at Thandaung Township.
Pho Kyar Elephant Camp
Another retreat is at 10-mile Pho Kyar Natural Elephant Camp on the Yoma mountain crossing motor road namely Targara-Koepin route. Sinhnakaung fork on a road from Tagara Township could reach Nay Pyi Taw – Yangon Express Way at the milepost of 174.
Getting to the elephant camp
The journey to Pho Kyar elephant camp was pleasant two-hour drive on winding road weaving through hilly terrain. There is no public transportation for this journey so it needs to arrange well in advance that one can go on the desired day. As usual, the more people sharing the cheaper it gets. The road condition has improved much during the last couple years and 4WD vehicles are no more necessity for the ride.
The camp was established in 2005 by the Myanma Forest Department and has showcased with the elephant dances, the bathing of the elephants in the nearby creeks, and moreover, bumpy and joyful elephant rides could be realized on the uphill jungle trails. Moreover, it is a paradise for bird watchers in the areas for those who are patience in taking photographs of the colorful flying creatures.
Moving westward from the elephant camp, the visitors can arrive at 13 mile post, deep inside two miles of the forest is the Thaing Chaung Elephant Camp with the scenic bird’s eye view of Thaung Chaung Creek flowing in twist and turn of smooth direction.
It is the home for the old and aging elephants, mother elephants, carrier elephants, and baby elephants with the mahouts and elephant trainers, where their way of life and elephant related professions could be noted with awesome interest.