söndag 11 maj 2014

Charming Chinstate

Chinstate is one of Myanmars seven divisions which opened up last year. It had been isolated from the country and closed to foreigner but finally, in November 2013 it was free to enter. Without any permission. So in March, I left Yangon to experice the part of the country where my people I've been working with come from. 

My first stop was on the border in a town named Kalaymiyo, also called Kalay. Half of the town belongs to the Chinpepole and half of it to the Burmese. There's a rivier dividing them apart and when I was calling my friend who is Chin, she had some hard time to find the guesthouse I was staying in. Since it was located in the other part of Kalay.  

The picture above is the trainstation in Kalay. It's a big building and behind, you find the trains which are the smallest ones I've ever seen.

The second day Stephen had arrived. We rented a motorbike from a random guy who was more then nervous. Apparently, almost nobody had done it before so we had some hard times to find a bike. But in the end we succeeded and went on the road towards India.  Which was a road filled with bridges all the way every second meter.

 And on the road we also found the Tropical Cancer. Almost like the equator.

The two pictures below are taken from outside of Kalay.

 The day after we decided to go in to Chin. We booked a small bus where the guy squeezed us in. Unfortunatly we were not allowed to enter by the car on the pic. That car was on his way to India but throug Chin instead of going north to the big border.

They are finally allowed to uppgrad the roads. So wherever you were travellig, people are working on the roads. And building bridges.

Falam is a town up in the moutains. There lives about 15000 people and they're beloning to a one of the 39 churches that exsist in that town. And they all asked you about your denomenation?  

I just loved the names of all the buildings in this town. And I guess my favourite was Ebenezer.

There was three american teachers who had arrived three weeks before we came. They were there to help out in the schools. And Mona ( one of the girls Stephen brought along) and me, we joined them for a day. The teacher had about 70 kids on her own.

 It was hard for us to give up Falam and move on. But when we had stayed for 4 or 5 days we decided to visit Hakah, the capital of Chin. Hakah is located even higher than Falam and there was actually cold. Really cold.

We went to the old stadium and watched the sunset. I was one of the moast scarry things I've done. It was all made in wood and you didn't know at all for how many  years ago. And on the top, you were quiet high up and it felt lik you were gonna break through every step. I was crying on my way down.

The tradionall outfit of Hakah. 


I loved the fabric from Chinstate. Failur that I had forgotten my money. Or maybe I was lucky cause it was quiet pricy. 

Taught some kids a game. They were all bored cause the big guys were playing football and were not allowed to join. So we had fun instead. 

Mona left us after Hakah and Celie in Gangaw. So Stephen and I was alone again, and on our way to Kamplet. The first bus we went on was like the one above. I was a bit moody cause I thought we didn't have any space. But I should just had shut up. The next one, this one, was the same modell and in this- we DIDN'T have any room. I litterly jumped on the bus and forced the women to move and all the men sat on the top. I was sweety, bumpy and almost 6 hours. Excluding stops.

Finally we droped some people and I got a seat. I was greatfule though that they didn't treat me extra. I had to sit on the floor the first hours. Happy face. Almost first time.

The moast sadest thing was that when we reached Kamplet I didn't bring my camera around and it was the pretties place. And we were surrounded by the tattoladies. Those who Lonely Planet mention as a tourist attraction and that you can't find in some places.

And to save the country from Christianity, some monkes, the only three in Kamplet, moved a giant Buddah up to the top of the Victoria peak. A week before we arrived. The first Buddah in Chin.

But we were still in Chin. So we found there own moutain.

Unfortunatley I didn't bring my camera around all the time and especially not i Kamplet which was my favouriteplace. Also the only town where you were surrounded by the tattoladies. 

onsdag 9 april 2014

i brist på egna ord

publiserar min resekamrats senaste mail till mig om ett av våra stopp i Chinstate när tiden tagit slut:

Don't overstay in Hakha

We arrived in Hakha on Friday evening. It's the capital of Chin state, somewhere above 6000ft, about three hours up the road from, maybe five times the size of, and at first impression not as lovely as lovely Falam where we had such a great time - praise The Lord - that writing about it will have to wait a while. 

But first impressions can be mis-leading so I resist the temptation to move on too soon maybe by catching Saturday's lunchtime bus onwards. Which means staying until Monday it turns out; there are no buses on the Sabbath in Chin state. I'm fine with that. It will give the place some time to grow on me. Maybe I'll go to church. There are plenty to choose from. 

Unfortunately the local Immigration officer (who reminds me of a story about Viv that Jim likes to tell) is not fine with me staying in Hakha until Monday. He's not fine that I stayed in Hakha last night and he's giving the manager of Cherry guesthouse a hard time about it. His problem with me is that my 28 day visa ran out 35 days ago. I'm overstaying as I've done before, as more people are doing. 

There is so much to see in Myanmar, much more that you are now allowed to see, 28 days is nowhere near long enough and paying $3 a day for the now officially-sanctioned privilege of overstaying is a bargain in itself and much cheaper than bouncing back and forth to Bangkok for a new visa. 

But that official sanction seems not to have reached up as high as Hakha and I spend a small part of Saturday afternoon in the Immigration office. Not that long though because my new non-friend throws me out of his office when I object to his moving of the goalposts. "Tourists are not allowed in Chin State." Yes they are; since November at least. "Overstaying is not allowed in Chin State." There was no problem at the Immigration office in Falam, also in Chin State. "Overstaying is not allowed in Hakha." Oh well, if YOU say so. 

Which he did say to the guesthouse manager who told me that he could not allow me to stay even one more night let alone the two that I need to stay for before a bus is available to leave on. He seems genuinely upset about it and I'm conscious of not wanting to make any more trouble for him. 

But I will need a place to stay. It's cold at night here. Too cold for camping but that's not an option anyway as I left my tent in Mandalay for that very reason. The prospect of sleeping on the street does not appeal but I don't think it will come to that. The Lord will provide. Or the Buddha (there is a monastery on the hill). 

But more likely the Police. "May I Help You?" It says outside every police station in Myanmar. Let's put that to the test.

Inspired by my experience in Myawaddy last year when I learnt from inter-government-departmental rivalry working to my advantage I head up the hill past the near-abandoned, near derelict stadium that was built for the last National Student Games that were held here in 1998 (and never again anywhere since).

Inside the police station I explain my small problem to the plain-clothed duty officer who listens sympathetically and then calls the Immigration office. He's on the line for a good ten minutes saying not much more than "Yes .. Yes .. Yes". He puts the phone down gently and tells me that I will have to go back to Falam by motorcycle. Three hours on a bad mountain road, when it's already after 5pm, on the back of a motorbike with my rucksacks on my back? Sorry mate, nothing doing. 

He's already woken a more senior officer who is sleeping in the next room. Rubbing his eyes he makes a couple of calls and I'm told to wait a while. Only now I notice that through the side door I can see the wire and wooden cage that is the cells. Four young men have their faces up against the wire looking at me. I ask if I can sleep in there maybe which draws laughter from a small group of other people sitting quietly on two rows of chairs in the main room. A uniformed officer amongst them wants to know where I have been in Myanmar. I start my long list of places visited and people start asking about their own particular home towns. The first cop is from Mandalay. His boss from Yangon. This is good news. 

Ten minutes later I'm taken outside and into another building where two even more senior officers become involved. One calls the Immigration guy again and comes back with the same story about taking a motorbike to Falam. The second asks me for my story one more time. I explain that were there a bus Today or tomorrow I would be happy to take it but since there is not I cannot. "There is a bus at 1pm on Monday", he says. "Yes. I already have a ticket for it."  

That does the trick. One more call is made to Immigration and very quickly a handshake is offered with the words, the first of all this spoken in English, "OK. You stay Cherry Guesthouse."

And with that we are off down the hill, me and my two new friends from Hakha Police (call 070-20129) to the guesthouse where the manager, my room key in his hand, is all smiles, "OK. Police no problem. Immigration no problem. Me no problem. You no problem."

And relax. 

/ Stephen 

och för er som vill veta mer om Myanmar, besök hans blogg: www.myohmyanmar.wordpress.com

fredag 28 mars 2014


An en gang sedan en uppdatering. Men pa resande fot i detta land gar det trogt. Befinner mig for tillfallet i nordvastra delarna av landet- Chinstate. Den del som William och hans familj kommer ifran. Har mott upp Stephen jag reste runt med i Dawei och han drog med sig en kanadensisk tjej och en fransyska. Tillsammans har vi givit oss ut i Myanmars bergigare delar som ocksa rakar vara den del som varit mest fortryckt av staten. Mycket pa grun av deras religion. For om jag tidigare lidit av att Budda och alla hans hus vakar i varje horn maste jag nog nastan saga nu att antalet kyrkor har gar till en ovardrift.

Idag tog vi oss till Haka som ar det storsta stallet i den har regionen efter att spenderat tre vackra dagar i fina Falam. En bergsby med ett fantastiskt hjarta och manga idylliska horn. Pamide mycket om byar nere i sodra europa. Och for att aterkomma till kyrkafragan. I Falam bor omkring 15000 manniskor och det var narmare en 40-tal kyrkor.

Det gar dock allt for trogt att skriva pa denna dator och min tid ar nagot begransad sa jag aterkommer i Yangon. For forsta gangen har jag verkligen fatt ertappa det Myanmar med stora begransnimgar kring internet, el, vatten,  vagar, bankomater och liknande.

torsdag 6 mars 2014

Milsvid utan ris

Killen som plockat upp mig på gatan hade gjort lite research om Daweis kust. För själva stan i sig självt är liksom många andra ställen i Myanmar bara ännu en sömnig ort. Och kusten ligger omkring 25 min motorcykel bort så det är inte riktigt att man bor på stranden- vilket jag dock bara tror är en tidsfråga. 

Och minst sagt efter idag. Om jag tyckte igår var vackert så kan det bara slänga sig i sjön för idag var slående. 

Han hade i vilket fall hittat några ställen som kanske inte är de enklast att finna i nuläget om man inte kan köra varken moped eller prata burmesiska men han fixa båda och jag fick snålskjutsen in i paradiset. För det vi möttes av idag var fiskebyar där tiden måste stått helt stilla. Atmosfären var genuin och med tanke på hur luften gick ur dem när vi kom gåendens kan de inte ha sett många västerlänningar. 

Vi klättrade vikar bort, fick skjuts av fiskare och knallade längs stränder som var totalt orörda och utan slut. Vattnet var kristallklart och djungeln runt omkring fortfarande levande. Inte kapad som på många andra ställen.


Att vi varken hade mat eller vatten bekom oss inte utan vi njöt in i det sista. På vägen hem bestämde vi oss föd att kika in en pagoda på en bergstopp. Var efter ett tag in stormförtjust i åkturen då den på sina ställen sluttade brant uppåt och var väldigt sandig. Och tillslut gick det inte längre. Men fina burmeser plockade upp oss i sin truck och vi hamnade på 600 m höjd framför en ny Golden Rock som höll på att byggas. Jag lyckades gå alldeles intill stenen innan en munk förskräkt ropade på mig att inga kvinnor få gå nära. Men vyn där uppefrån var slående så var värt att busa med munkarna. 

onsdag 5 mars 2014

först ut: Dawei

I rushen inför avresan mötte jag en bekant till mig som oxkså bor i yangon. Han frågade så klart vart jag skulle ta vägen och mitt svar blev Dawei. 
När jag sagt det stirrade han på mig och efter en sekunds betänketid klämmer han ur sig: "men vad ska du göra där? där finns ju inget." 

Fick en lite klump i magen och tanken slog mig. Tänk om det lilla jag hört och det jag förställer mig att kartan visar är en lögn- att där finns inget mer än dyra hotell pch en dröm om ett hamnläge för Bangkok. Och av vad man kan utläsa från Lonley Planet så finns där verkligen inget. Det som står skrivet är inte mer ett fåtal rader och slutsatsen är att du behöver tillstånd till allt. 

Sagt och gjort. Sedan augusti är det dock helt fritt att tillträda området och jag är tacksam att jag varken bangade för min vän eller den reseguide som alla verkar dyrka. För efter en bussresa som startade 14.00 nådde jag Dawei snabbare än tänkt, redan 05.00. Den var inte alls hemsk då jag sov mestadels och om jag jämför bussen jag trodde jag skulle åka med var denna himmelriket. Dock märkte man i sömnen att andra halvan var på vägar utan tillsyn och förståeligt att de är avstängda under regnsäsong. 

Väl här fick jag hjälp av ett gäng burmeser till ett hyfsat boende som dock tog in mig på nolltid och gav mig frukost även denna dag. De fixade sedan en motorcykel och jag gav mig ut. Lite vilsen men glad. Dock tog det inte många minuter innan jag nästan krockar med en brittisk man. Mitt bönesvar. Han visar sig vara en supergo äventyrare som rest myanmar över x antal gånger och även talar lite burmesiska. Han tar mig med ut på beachjakt och jag är glad att han är med för jag är verkligen ingen vad moppeförare och alla vägar är inte helt enkla. 

Men så värt. Vi kör lightversionen idag och han har lovat att ta med mig till lite guldklimpar imorgon. Men jag säger bara en sak- för dem som letar efter milatals med tomma stränder i Thailand. Ni är i fel land.