MYANMAR / Dawei (Tavoy)

This trip was first performed in January 2009.  Info are correct at that time. Dawei is accessible via Yangon Air flight from Yangon Airport (domestic terminal). The flight time was about an hour on ATR aircraft. Tourists need a special permit to visit this city, due to security reasons. The city is home to a naval base, and with close proximity to Thai border, the potential threat from insurgents cannot be downplayed.  Abu Adam revisited this city for the second time in August 2009. Read his story about the city below.

Dawei. Myanmar

Work took me to this remote town of the Myanmar’s southern division of Tanintharyi.  FYI, Myanmar comprises of seven states and seven divisions.  Dawei is a capital city of this division, with population of about 150,000.   Dawei is previously known as Tavoy, during British era. Yangon Airways flies daily to Dawei on ATR72 aircraft from Yangon. Flight time is about an hour.

Dawei is a no-go area for tourist. It means foreigners require special permit to enter the town. Have I told you earlier that some places in Myanmar are restricted to tourists? Yes, tourists need special travel permits to get into some ‘special’ places in Myanmar. It is more for security reasons, due to the fact that the country is ruled by the military. And normally military people are more secretive.

Same as Dawei – you need a special permit to enter the city.  But I am here for a business trip, together with a partner from the Myanmar Government. So he managed all the paperwork to get me into the town legally. We are visiting remote villages in Dawei, more specifically near dusty town Laung Lon leading to a fishing village at the southern tip of a small peninsular facing the Andaman Sea.  In fact our Company has sponsored financially some community programs at these remote villages, as part of our corporate social responsibility to the local people in Myanmar. It has always been the philosophy of our parent company to develop local resources in the country we operate. I am proud of this tradition. Leaving a good legacy is not an option, it is a smart living. Life is so short that you have to make the most out of it. My wife’s cousin — a successful corporate man — died from cancer last month leaving a wife and 4 children me and my wife knew. I regretted a bit because I did not take a time out of my busy schedule despite early notice of his deteriorating condition to visit him during his final days. This is one of my many regrets even though I have been proclaiming to the world that I live a life with no regret.

Lets go back to Dawei.

The town is made up old wooden and mortar buildings along dusty streets. These parallel streets meet other perpendicular ones forming a grid which makes up a downtown area of Dawei. There is one big shopping center. City Hall building is a very old building built by British. There are a number of 2 -3 star hotels and guest houses in the city center, with rate about US40 – 60 per night.

Crossing the bridge over Dawei River, the road will branch to Y shape. To the north, you will see Dawei University to you left and further up will take you to the other  remote villages linked via dirt roads. To the south, you will come to a village called Long Lone and further down other remote villages and eventually to the small fishing village at southern tip of small peninsular. The jouney from Dawei to this fishing village takes about 2 hours by Toyota Land Cruiser. 4WD vehicles are the only way to travel through this dusty mountain roads.

You can see horse carts are used as a public transports.

There is a mosque in the downtown area. I was informed there were three more around Dawei. Moslems are mainly traders and businessmen here. I managed to catch a Friday prayers in the downtown mosque. The khutbah (sermon) was delivered in local dialect with quotes from Koran reminding us to do taqwa (good deeds) and prepare ourselves for the Life Hereafter. The imam said the best of preparation is taqwa. Next to the masjid is a Moslem-owned coffee-shop. We hung around there after Friday prayers and joined locals for a cup of laphayet (“tea_ tarik” = tea with milk).

There is a sea-side village called Maungmagan which is about 45 minutes drive from the city.  I traveled to this beach in August 2009. With miles of clean, white sand and coconut trees,  Maungmagan beach is very scenic. It has everything tourists are looking for in tropical holidays package, minus the hotels and transport. There were few guest houses though, but old and abandoned. The road from Dawei was really bad, not to mention the public transport. There is trade-off in evertyhing we do. The good thing is no rubbish, no plastic bags. Why? Because no tourists. No tourists means no business.

Solat Hajat in Yangon, Myanmar

July 6th, 2009:

Today is a public holiday in Myanmar. One of my staff printed something about this holy day and put it on my table, when I asked her what is the fullmoon day of Waso. I have not seen what she printed. So I cannot tell you what this public holiday is all about. In the meantime follow the link to know all fullmoon days in Myanmar. Yes they have a lot of fullmoons, at least one per month.

It rained the whole day with intermittent somewhat clear sky. Cannot blame the nature. It is monsoon season in Yangon, which means water is everywhere. It will be a wet, wet life for the next kapla months.

Unable  to make it to the fairway for a round of golf, I turned on the dumb box and watched “AQaeda Ambush” on NGEO channel.   Boredom ruled after that. I booted up the PC to work on this website, having just migrated to wordpress from blogspot, and many things still not working properly. Coppermine photo gallery — guest user could see my entire albums. WordPress theme plaintxtBlog — the title’s  font size still the same despite I have already changed the style.css file.  Cpanel — do not know how to delete the folder in the cpanel file manager. You see, I have so many things to do. Bear with me. This post is under category Rambling, so let it be.

The phone rang. Haji Shafien was on the other side. “Saya buat solat hajat malam ni kat rumah. Datanglah!”.

His apartment is at the other side of Yangon, in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township, to be exact. Near Kandawgyi Lake, if you know Yangon. So I called my driver to pick me up.

We started with yaasin, tazkirah, solat maghrib, solat hajat, dinner. In that order.  Most guests left after dinner, but I stayed on for solat Isyak and a cup of teh tarik (lempeyek in Myanmar), knowing very well that nobody was waiting for me at home, save that merciless wordpress problem.  Tazkirah was delivered by the host in English, translated to Burmese by Haji Kamaruddin. He said the objective of this gathering is to perform solat and doa in jemaah, so as to attract Allah’s attention faster. Ukhuwwah or brotherhood and solidarity are key to the success of this  ummah. Our brothers are fighting kafiroon in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, sacrificing their lives, but we did not even move a finger to help. Forget about Jannah, he said. The talk was simple but full of message. It moved me.

I admired Haji Shafien for his down-to-earth people approach and seamless assimilation with local Myanmar people. For this solat hajat, he also invited his masjid friends. They introduced themselves using moslem names. It is not their real names as per registration card. Here everyone must maintain their Burmese name, regardless of their belief. Burmese names are not easy to write, to pronounce, let alone to remember. I found myself struggling even with my local staff names. Haji Jalal is a retired civil engineer with the government agency. He has a son — a hafeez — in Penang, Malaysia. Haji Yunus is a maulabi (religious teacher). Haji Kamaruddin is staying near masjid in Mingalar Taung Nyunt. Mr Mohideen is a traditional medicine man at Mingalarze market. Mr Ibrahim just came back from Malaysia four months ago, where he worked as roti canai (prata) maker at Taman Melati, KL. Haji Abdullah is a driver with my company. I could see his wife and lanky daughter running about in the kitchen, helping and serving.

Looking at their faces, you can tell they are simple, humble and sincere. Mr Ibrahim spoke in Malaysian better than I did, having spent 14 years in Malaysia. I did not have their photos, unfortunately. They are my friend’s friends, therefore my friends also. They are my brothers in Islam. Allahuakbar!

I left his apartment at about 9:30pm. My driver was waiting downstair with umbrella in his hand.  Gusting wind accompanied the rain now, picking up momentum.  Just before he dropped me at my apartment lobby, I shoved 3000 kyats into his hand. I gave him the white plastic bag given to me by Haji Shafien’s wife just now. ” Take it home to you wife. I think it is rice and chicken curry”.

b u m i s e p i v3

June 21 2009

Today I successfully migrated this website to wordpress. Previously it was on blogspot. But you still can access the blogsport version which I called bumisepi V2 at blogroll. Bumisepi V1 is the original one, based on simple Word files. Why wordpress, you may ask?  Apart from rich in features and supports, it has something to do with politics. In Myanmar, some websites are  blocked by the military regime  among others blogspot, gmail  and yahoo mail. Updating this blog on demand is nearly impossible under this circumstance. Cannot do much. We respect their rules. I aways believe there is always a reason for everything we see and cannot see.

WordPress  – was informed it makes awsome sites. Well to me, so many things need to be un-learned and re-learned. Back to school time.

Anyway if you guys out there have better ways to reach to the star, let me know. Email me at abuadam2006@gmail.com.