Category Archives: Tourist attraction

Laxey Heritage trail and snaefell Mountain

If you come to Isle of Man, Laxey is the exact place you should not miss. Laxey is a small town in the North of the island called Isle of Man where you can learn the lives of miners who worked precariously in the past.

Isle of man is the island in the Irish sea between England and Ireland. It used to be a hard place to live due to unpredictable weather and isolation. A few hundred years ago , a lot of islanders left the island to move to the prosperous countries such as America and Australia. However, discovering minerals such as lead, copper , zinc in Laxy gave a boost of economy and the area became the hub of migrants . Isle of Man exported all these treasure to UK and Wales.

In Laxey, you can go for Laxey heritage trail, I would rather start with the church, where a lot of miners used to go. The lives of miners were very precarious and nobody knew whether they could get hurt at work. Some laborers could be as young as 12 year old. When they got injured or lost their lives, there was no compensation that time and people could be in bed for months out of injuries such as fractures or chronic illnesses related to mining.

Christ Church Laxey where miners and their families used to pray for safety , health and wealth of their beloved people.

The Church shows the faith of the islanders in mining villages. It opens daily from 10 am to 4 pm and there is no entrance fee. But you can give some donation for maintenance of the church. You can also see stories about people inside the church and it will not disappoint you.

outside of the church

Then you can go and see Laxey washing floor where the stones were extracted from the mines and cleansed with water. It is now regarded as community area.

Laxey washing floor. The wheel here is a smaller version of Lady Isabella

From there you can walk across the road to have a cup of tea at ” Ham and Egg Terrace”. The Terrace was the longest line of purpose built industrial housing under a continuous roof of line on the island in 1860 . It was nicknamed as ” Ham and Egg Terrace ” after most houses started selling tea and meals to visitors in their front rooms. The terrace still maintains its charm after 150 years. The Terrace is next to the statue of Miners.

Ham and Egg Terrace
My friend’s parents who were very happy in Laxey

From there , you can walk towards Laxey wheel ” Lady Isabella “. Entrance fee is 8 GBP and it can be free if you have purchased the annual ticket for heritage trails .If you are not afraid of height, you can climb up the stairs to see the panoramic view from the top of the wheel.

Glenn and Mumu on Laxey wheel

Lady Isbella is the largest wheel in the world and it was created to remove water from the mines into the river.

I have also walked inside the mine and I was not comfortable knowing the suffering of miners ( cold , wet and dark inside the mines). we met a very nice gentleman who told us how fragile our society became. ( I am sure he is referring towards us ). In a nutshell, we have a better life obviously compared to 100 years ago, but still we cannot convince ourselves that we are content and happy. I am feeling a bit embarrassed right now.

From Laxey wheel , you can also stroll along the Laxey beach where you can simply relax and watch some people either swimming in the sea or walking around . There is a shop called ” the shed ” at the end of Laxey beach and it is a nice cafe.

Laxey beach

If you are interested to walk around, you can also walk in Laxey village or stroll along a row of shops just beside the road.

A clock on the shop

Some houses are very pretty and located just beside the stream.

houses beside the river

a house at the bank of river, my dream house
a lovely house with a boat inside.

There are some wild flowers on the trail too.

In Laxey, there is woolen mills where you can purchase some expensive wool products such as kilts, jumpers , hats. You can see the woolen mill at the end of the village.

Laxey woolen mills

Just beside the main road, you can also see The flour mill where has been the source of bakery . The mill was constructed by the same engineer who built Lady Isabella. Prior to that, the local people had to bring their corns to Lord’s mills to grind in 17th and 18th century.

Laxey Flour mill

After going to nearby places, there is some prehistoric stones near Laxey called ” King Orry’s Grave”. It is at least 30 minutes walk from Laxey wheel and just beside the Minorca train station. Only MER ( Manx Electric railway ) can arrive this and please do not be confused with Snaefell railway which only goes up the snaefell mountail. Here is the information how to go to King Orry. ( credit to https://www.transceltic.com/isle-of-man/king-orrys-grave )

Getting there

On the East coast of the island in Minorca near the village of Laxey.

  • By car – Minorca is near the village of Laxey where the B11 crosses the A2 which is the road between Ramsey and Douglas.
  • By bus – Routes no. 3, 3A, 3B, and 3C from Ramsey and Douglas. Take the nearest stop to Minorca, then walk along the A2 to the site.
  • By tram – Take the Electric Railway to the Minorca stop. Walk along the B11 to where it crosses the A2.

This site is the largest known Megalithic tomb on the Isle of Man and is said to belong to King Orry, an almost legendary character revered by the Manx as their greatest king and founder of Mann. This mythical figure is based on King Godred Crovan, a Viking warrior who created the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles upon his arrival on the Island in 1079.  But at actual site, it was mentioned that King Orry was never buried there and at the time of excavation, only one skeleton remain was discovered. The tomb was abandoned in neolithic time. According to the painting at the site, it seemed like the tomb was immediately next to the beach and it was assumed that people gathered around the tomb and did a lot of activities such as dancing and eating.

King Orry’s Grave

King Orry was credited for the introduction of the island’s legal system and his arrival on the island is seen as the starting point of Manx history . He was also responsible for founding the Crovan dynasty, his descendants who ruled in Mann and the Isles for almost two centuries.  ( Information credit goes to http://www.visitisleofman.com ). King Orry’s grave was separated into two parts and one of them is behind the private house, however, visitors are allowed to visit freely.

pre historic stone

Last but not least, you can visit Snaefell mountain which is the island’s only mountain, its summit is 2036 feet ( 621 metres ) above sea level. The name Snaefell comes from the Norse meaning ” snow mountain “. To reach the summit of snaefell, you can either take Snaefell railway or climb from bungalow station ( which is situated on the mountain road to Ramsey ).

Snaefell Mountain Tramway is different from Manx Electric Railway . The latter operates between Douglas and Ramsey.

Snaefell railway was opened on 21 August 1895 and carried 900 visitors on the same day. It has been a popular tourist activity even after introduction of competition from motor buses. The journey can either starts at Laxey train station ( 12GBP for return ) or at the bungalow station ( 8GBP for return ).

summit of Snaefell

At Bungalow station, you should get off and observe the statue of Joey Dunlop . He was named as ” King of the Mountain ” as he won TT for 26 times. TT is a motor cycle race in Isle of Man which has been operating since 1907. TT attracts a lot of bike lovers all over the world.

Statue of Joey Dunlop

For the first time, I climbed snaefell by riding on the tram. I went there with my friend Glenn and we had a good time on the train. I felt like we were back at least a century back as the tram is very old and rattling . It was so much fun.

At the top of the mountain, there was a cafe called ” summit cafe ” where you can purchase breakfast, lunch and dinner .

Meals are not sold on the tram. But you can book one of the special dining events held at the Snaefell summit cafe such as sunset dinners ( suitable for couples ), seven sunday lunch and Pie in the Sky, featuring stargazing and supper with the island ‘s Astronomical society.

Glenn having the time of his life.

It is a belief that you can see seven kingdoms from summit of Snaefell such as England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the kingdoms of heaven and the sea.

Snaefell mountain tram

In Celtic times, the domain of “otherworld ” was to be found in the heavens above Snaefell. More recently in late Vitorian times, an observatory was established at the summit of Snaefell to enable astronomers to study the stars from the highest point on the island.

My boyfriend was worried when I decided to climb Snaefell. 2000 feet does not mean the height from the base, it simply the height from the sea level and the mountain is manageable even for someone like me who does not do regular exercise.

Even with this tiny achievement, I have to say that I am happy to have been at the summit of Snaefell by climbing.


Hninn

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Maughold well, Isle of Man

I went to the Maughold well in Isle of Man which is regarded as a famous destination for pilgrims in British isles. I have been in Isle of Man for almost 2 years but did not realize there are some religious sites and a holy well in Maughold. Maughold  is situated in Northern part of island where there are beautiful scenic beaches surrounded by mountains. It is 3 miles away from Ramsey ( one of major towns in Isle of Man )

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photo credit to the author of https://www.isleofmanfilm.com/location/maughold/

 

I went to Maughold with a couch surfer named Alexy. Alexy has been travelling all over the world and as he was coming to Isle of Man for a few days, I decided to give him a tour around the island.  I was searching website of isle of man called Visitisleofman and found out a short video regarding a holy well.

Please click this link to watch the video.

https://www.visitisleofman.com/things-to-do/kirk-maughold-church-p1312271

In 5th century, an Irish prince called Maughold arrived isle of man. He was mentioned as a leader  who recruited a group of men to do unlawful things . He challenged St Patrick to cure a dead person. Later St Patrick made a dead person to become a live and also baptized Maughold and his crew. Later Maughold was accepted by isle of man people to become the bishop of the island for his effort in religious transformation.

Maughold well was formed by carving of streams of water collected from mountains to drain into the  Irish sea. It is a bowl shaped hollow protected by slabs of stones around. It is not man made well although some amendments were done around to protect the original well  . There are legends that some people cure their illness by drinking water from well or applying holy  water on their body . A woman eye sight was restored by drinking Maughold water and another woman grew her hair back by applying the water on her scalp.

To go to Maughold well, you need to arrive St Maughold church which is 30 minutes drive from Douglas ( capital of Isle of Man ) . You need to take coastal road to Ramsey and on the way, turn to right side to drive towards Maugold village.

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Once you arrive Maughold church which is dated back to 11th century, park the car outside.

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the church has some collections of 5th century celtic heritage if you can go inside and see

 

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Note: this photo is not mine as well and it was obviously taken by a photographer called Peter Killey. ( thanks to Peter in case if you read this post )

The trail to Maughold is on the north eastern part of the church. You just need to follow the trail or foot path. At one point you need to climb down steep .  You don’t need to worry as the trail is covered by a thick grass and even if you fall, you will not get injured badly.

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you go straight ahead and then we turn to the left to go to the well. You need to pass through a small gate.

The pathway is surrounded by beautiful and blue bells and some wildflowers. And the view is not bad at all.

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It was a hazy , rainy day and I could not capture the good photo.

 

 

The well is just immediately above the sea . You do not need physical fitness to arrive there. One the way back will be a bit tiring to climb back. Overall it is less than 15 minutes walk from the church. Even if not for the holy well, the view is worth it. You  just need to be careful and do not walk very close to the cliff as it is nearly 20 feet from the rocky ground .

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beginning of steep decent

 

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The well is immediately just above the sea

 

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The well or cistern covered by stone slabs

 

Normally I am not very good with navigation. But I am glad that I went there with a traveler who likes exploring. The world is an open book and you need to turn the chapter everyday to find out more. As usual,  I picked up energy whenever I can be with nature. I said a little bit of prayers at Maughold well and I felt like I am healed both physically and spiritually to some extent. I want to encourage anybody out there not to lose faith, especially on yourself.

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Discovering new beach near Niarbyl

It has been almost a year I published in my blog. I have not been busy but simply just been lazy. I am also too content and happy with my life right now.

I travelled a few countries when I was away from blogging. I hope I can write all about them later. Right now, I live in an island called Isle of Man..Its a tiny island between uk and Ireland in Irish sea. Mountains and beaches are everywhere. I have been almost every beaches which are well known. But I always prefer going to the places which are off the beaten track.

Yesterday I went to Northern part of island and a friend told me her favorite beach is a pebble beach near Nirabyl. So I requested her to show me the place. We drove to Nirabyl and parked the car near Nirabyl cafe. I asked my boy friend to drive down to the beach instead of parking the car at the restaurant. He said ” no. it will spoil the road”..My boyfriend Steve will never declare himself as conservationist , but he loves nature and tries to keep things the way as they are.

We needed to walk up and down on the hills to arrive the hidden beach..It was windy and a bit cool but tolerable. I always love to see wild flowers on the track.

Some lanes are very narrow and you have to be a bit careful . When we reached the beach, I laid down the picnic mat and thought of sitting down. But we did not have the chance to sit down as the clouds came up on the sky and my boy friend warned us to go back ahead of rain.

There was a small waterfall and a tiny house in the middle of nowhere. It was picture perfect. I wonder whether I could live like that one day , in a tiny house near a beach, but a bit closer to civilizatioon. I would be scared if I had power cut off in that kind of situation if the storm comes.

  1. I love discovering new places and believe life has so much to offer us.  Here are our photos

love

Hnin

Vincent vanGogh museum ( 7th may 2018)

I visited van Gogh museum today without any information prior. I love arts but I have no sense of understanding about complicated art . So I bought a ticket from online and thought I would meet a tour guide at the entrance but I found none in the end. It was a chaos as I was also five minutes late for my entrance time. I texted to the tourguide but did not get any . I was panic when I did not get reply from the tour guide.I thought the guide would leave me alone and I would not be able to enter into museum. People were queing outside and it was such a lovely day as the temperature was 27C . One of the ladies even arrived ten minutes later than her arrival time. But the museum staff welcomed us and said its ok to arrive a bit late .  I went inside the museum with other people after showing my online ticket. For audio guide, I needed to pay extra 5 euros as it was not included in my online purchase.

Since from the beginning, I opened audio and I was blown away by detailed collections of his art work plus letters written by him to his brother and other artist. In the end, someone like me who knew nothing about Van goGh ended up being emotional after reading and observing all his work.

The fact that he only sold one painting during his short life span did not console me either. I listened to every audio and I was teary in the end. The ticket mentioned it was one and half hour tour but I spent three hours there looking at his paintings . So I recommend the visitors to have proper rest before going there so that you can spend more time there with clear mind.

In brief, Van goGh was born in 1853 and died in 1890 at the age of 37.  His Father was a pastor who was a devoted protestant.
Vangoh had two brothers and three sisters. His inappropriate behavior as the eldest son made his parents worried. He was a child who spent many hours outdoors observing nature. His parents tried to instill their values of hardwork and getting good reputation as a family into their children. Van Gogh uncle was an art dealer and Vangoh tried to work with him with little success and he was asked to leave the business. His honesty did not give benefit to the business. However his brother became a successful art dealer in Paris and Theo supported Van Gogh both financially and emotionally.
Vangoh and his dad had different opinions on religion and in his letter to Theo, he wrote his reluctance to move back into parents house . He wrote they would regard him as a big dirty shaggy dog which barks all the time. However, he drew the picture of his dad worn out bible one year after his dad’s death.

After his failure in business as an art dealer, his dad tried to put him under religious guidance to follow his footstep as a pastor. Van gogh studied Theology and moved to  , a poor mining village in Belgium. He became emotionally too involved with minors and his religious leaders decided he was not fit to become a pastor.

His true calling as an artist came only when he was 27 and he started studying arts by reading books about colors and observing other people works. He used pen, pencils, chalks and inks. Sometimes, he made his own pencil with great satisfaction. He drew 1100 artworks and only half of them is now in his museum. Theo saw his sketches and encouraged him to devote to painting. Instead of paying him monthly, Theo accepted his paintings and paid him for them or exchanged his paintings with other artists paintings.

His systematic planning and observation contrasted with his impulsive and emotional life of artists. He was also not a solitary artist and wanted to be in touch with other artists whom he greatly admired especially Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard. He wrote letter to another artist Paul Sgnac with affection and gratitude in 1889   after Paul’s visit to him while he was unwell. He wrote that “ the best consolation, if not the only remedy , is , it still seems to me, profound friendships. Thank you again for your visit, which gave me so much pleasure”.

He lived with his parents in Nuenen, a rural poor countryside as he had nowhere to go when he turned 30 which was 3 years after his artist life.
Van Gogh loved rural life. He wrote to his parents that “a peasant who work hard and fight during his work is a civilized person. The more you go into urban life, the more you go into darkness of uncivilization, stupidity and wickedness. Peasant life is quieter , more peaceful and better. Even if they can be cheap to each other, they do not do as badly as they do in cities”.

The reason why we know everything about Van Gogh was he wrote 820 letters and most of them towards Theo, his confidant. VAN goGh was not only a great artist but also a talented writer. In his letters, Van Gogh emerges as an intelligent , impassioned man with a great thirst for art and literature. Sometimes; his enthusiasm got the better of him, such as in his religious period ( 1876-1879) . He could hold forth with great zeal, and in so doing lost sight of reality. In vincent days, letters were delivered 2 to 3 times per day and he replied his brother immediately the day after he received his letter in Hague. He sometimes was totally out of money and could afford to buy stamp only with support from Theo.

In Nuenen, Vangoh was 30 plus and he drew everyday pictures of countrymen and women and their children. He said the country women who are exposed to sand, wind and sun are prettier than ladies. He admired their strength , simple life  and earthy life.

He  tried to go to Antwerp , Belgium and Paris to study arts . He met great artists in Paris and realized his Dutch work was too simple. He tried to learn from other artists about modern arts  and he also bought many graphic arts from Japan to study then in details. The japanese artists greatly influenced his work.

He appointed a house called My little Yellow house in Arles , France with the aim of inviting various artists to have art community. Only Paul Gauguin came after many invitations and lived with him in 1888. The yellow house is one of his famous paintings and it depicited how much he enjoyed life that time. There was a restaurant left to his studio where he ate supper everyday. His friend ,a post man lived with family near to his yellow house and all family members became his subjects for portrait painting. He became close to post office staff as he needed to communicate with his brother by post .

Van gogh had done many self portraits for economical reason. At that time, it was expensive to use live models.He used different colors for his eyes . He also painted flowers, fruits, landscapes and trees. He also painted sculptures.He wanted to become a painter of peasant life when he was in Nuenen. He once painted sunflowes in three different tints of yellows. The job had the best result and he was very satisfied and announced that he should be a painter of  sunflowers. Sunflowers are earthy and vibrant. When he died, his brother put sunflowers in his coffin.

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Apart from ordinary people, he painted prostitutes in dignity and admiration. He also asked his brother to buy a painting of prostitue drawn by another artist.

Paul Gaugin and Vangoh  relationship clashed when thry lived together. Two artists had different approach to arts. Paul made arts based on imagination and Van Gogh painted from real life. They had several rows although they admired each other. Paul left yellow house after a serious argument with Van Gogh. Van gogh developed hallucinations and cut his left ear after his friend departure. He presented his ear to a prostitute who called a police. His doctor diagnosed him as having epilepsy with acute mania. His neighbours made a petition to expel him out of yellow house as they found him wandering neighborhood confused. He admitted himself to Mental Institution after second attacks . Even when he was being admitted, he painted landscape of neighborhood such as orchards in blossoms. He wrote that he was allowed to roam neighborhood when he was not very ill.
Van Gogh spent final months of his life in rural Auvers- sur-Oise, near Paris . He painted 75 paintins in 70 days Van Gogh portrayed nature in all of its manifestations; gardens with full of flowers, a close up of waving wheat, and panoramic landscapes filled with emotion  For him, nature was sacred, a sanctuary from which to draw solace, or region strength. He created his masterpiece called starry night while he was not allowed to go outside the room. He painted starry night observing stars behind the iron barred window. It was phenomenal, blue sky mixed with yellow.

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After his hospitalization in the asylum in Saint-Remy, van gogh felt like ‘broken pitcher’ which cannot be amended even so, in between his bouts of mental illness; he worked on steadily and courageously to become a better artist. If he was not allowed to work outside, he painted the view from his room through iton barred window. Or he explored garden where he found endless subjects.

In 1890, he shot himself at chest with a pistol in a field near Auvers and died two days after that with Theo beside him. Twenty people of his acquaintances and friends attended funeral. His family could not due to short notice. It was a chaotic event as the pastor refused to make religious event for his funeral as he took his own life. VAN Gogh who was the son of the pastor did not have a pastor at his funeral. However, he claimed he was lucid when he shot himself and he always wanted to end the life that way. It was a bit strange for me but he kept painting even with his deadly injury.
THE LAST painting he drew was named the roots and it showed his confidence and ability to find beauty and magic in daily life. He was found dead hoding his easel.
My favorite painting is called wheatfield with crows. Van gogh regard wheat as a symbol of eternal cycle of life. Its being sown and grown and reaped in day life. Its like human death.

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Unfortunately, his brother died only six months after his death with syphilis at the age of 32. Theo behaved as the owner of the drawings and paintings that his brother sent him . Theo was distressed by Van Gogh death in july 1890. His widow 28 year old Jo Van Gogh_ bonger inherited collection of arts and with her effort of selling and lending his paintings to museum, his arts became well known . After Jo death in 1925, Vincent williem, the nephew of Van Gogh  created the Vincent vanGogh foundation and devoted himself to realising the Van Gogh museum , where the family collection found their permanent home in Amsterdam.

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Taman Negara , The oldest rain forest of Malaysia

I am recalling some of my memories of travelling  in Jungles. Usually, I regard myself as a xylophile ( someone who loves trees ) and always try to find spots with lots of trees.

I went to a jungle with lots of stories in 2012. The forest is called “ Taman Nagara” which is the biggest national forest of Malaysia. It is estimated to be older than 130 million years and covers 4343  square km. It is believed that there are still endangered species of animals such as Malayan tiger and rare species of birds.

I have to admit that I didn’t go many places there as it was a day trip and I didn’t have enough time to explore the area. I was attending a wedding of my colleagues in a town, Jerantut which is 2 hours drive from the rain forest. So me and my travel partner decided to visit the forest in a short time without proper plan.We drove from Jerantut to Taman Negara and the scenery was very nice along the way.

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Then we arrived at the jetty and met our tour guide Mr lee.

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jetty of Taman Negara

Mr Lee led us to trek, and showed the rain forest. The water was quite shallow that time and lots of birds fluttering around the flowers.

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our tour guide Mr lee

 

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Then we went for the canopy walk. According to the record, it was the longest canopy walk in the world although it was built recently in 1992.

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my friend Raihana, smiling on the canopy walk.

 

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The guide led us for hiking ( I didn’t go for hiking and waited for them at the base of mountain , resting on the bench, luckily I found interesting people , one is a geologist and two are French tourists, they entertained me while my friend was hiking the mountain

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the geologist I met during my trip. He has a lot of knowledge about rain forests and has been in Taman Negara many times.

Then, wee were on the boat again  and visited a village belongs to Orang Asli ( aboriginal people ).The villagers are short, dark and have curly hair. They look more like short people from  Africa, totally different from Orang Asli I found in other places of Malaysia. However, Orang= man, Asli= Origin, so they don’t need to be the same people as different people arrive Malaysia in different places of the country in different time. Our guide Mr Lee said he believes the people are originated from Papua New Guinea.20

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They looked disturbed when we arrived and children were afraid of us. Many of them ran towards their mothers as soon as they found strangers. One kid was so adorable and I asked permission from mom to carry him, but he struggled out of me and I had to return him to his mom. All of them had Tinea infection ( fungal infection ) and their living condition is not very hygiene.

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Most of them were on bare foot as they cant’ afford foot wares. They know how to swim, fish and hunt very well. The guide showed us how to make fire out of two stones and how to shoot arrows.

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the guide showing us how to make fire

But the more interesting part is about the people.

Orang Asli people in Taman Negara still holding their belief strong. They never bury the dead bodies and instead carry them to the deep part of the forest. The spiritual leader called Bomoh arranged the journey and he only allows less than two people to follow him so that they can carry the dead body. When they arrive the secret spot, they hang the dead body on the trees. The place is kept as a secret and only Bomoh , chosen spiritual leader knows how to go there. Actually, like other Orang Asli, they are very attached to the forest and willing to remain as spirits inside forest after their death. After Bomoh has done his ritual, he orders his followers to cross the river for seven times so that spirits will not follow them on the way back to village.  Their belief is once you reach the area of spirits, they can follow you on your way back.

Once they arrive back the village, they observe the nature and behavior of the animals . If the animals seem disturbed or get diseases within seven days of arrival, all villagers pack and leave the village, seeking another spot to settle.

Another ritual which makes me amazed is their marriage. Once man and woman wants to get married, the villagers will lock two of them inside the building ( a house / a hut/ any kind of enclosure ) and lock them from outside for 24 hours. And people are not supposed to disturb the couple. If no one demands to get out before 24 hours ( I have no idea how to do that, they must knock the door or shout from inside ), their courtship means successful. Then after completion of 24 hours, the door will be unlocked and the whole village celebrate the marriage by having a feast.  By the way, as I worked in the town which is two hours away from that village, I know they get married very young. One time, my patient who was in labour was only 12 years old. The marriage was arranged by her parents and her husband looked like he was 40 plus. The girl was crying in pain and we couldn’t even ask her the name of her husband because she simply didn’t know and not bother to know as well. She just asked us to call her mom. Usually, most Orang Asli girls  marry young and have a lot of children up to 12- 16 children. They rarely use contraception and a man can get married easily when the wife dies. The men prefer to marry young girls. Nowadays, the government gives priority towards Orang Asli regarding education and health care. All of them can get free health care and education although some of them are not willing to go to towns.  I have a friend who is an Orang Asli girl and she is a doctor. I hope there will be more educated young people in their population in the future.

Another interesting thing is their belief about spirits. They don’t have religion and they usually worship on spirits. As they live in jungle and live on farming and hunting, the favor of spirit is very important to them. For example, you must pray to spirit of river if you want to have fish, and have to be careful not to piss the spirits of land if you want to harvest. The children have to be careful not to venture at night into jungles as the spirits can make them sick etc. Some Organ Asli do sculpture of spirits out of wood and keep at their house. One time, I went to museum to observe these sculptures. The museum was deserted and to save electricity, the room was poorly lit. I looked at the faces of these spirits and it made me feel scared. I was wondering they might see the spirits , otherwise how can they make sculptures out of imagination.

 

I don’t know whether spirits really exist, but the guides who are educated are also very careful about jungle spirits. My guide told me some tour guides lost their way in Taman Negara although they were not far from the village. They believe it is because the spirits hide the way. And a lot of tourists have tragic events in Taman Negara such as drowning. Let me tell you my experience. We took a package tour organized by a well experienced tourist guide.  We were on the boat and observed lots of beautiful birds from the boat.

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before going for swimming

The tour guide allowed us to swim in the river. I was not a good swimmer, in fact I know very little how to swim. So I decided just to waddle in the shallow water. As I wanted to see the trees, I walked further and further away from the crowed. Although I was walking in the shallow water, suddenly I plunged into a deeper part of water. It really made me scared especially the soil of river bed was not sand and very sticky mud. I tried to call out my friend to help me, I felt like I was drowning. She thought I was joking with her as the river looked shallow to her. But I swear that that time, my legs couldn’t reach the floor of river bed anymore and I was struggling to float. And the current, it was pretty strange that I felt that the current was pushing me further only at that particular spot.  I was drifting away from the crowd. My friend herself doesn’t know how to swim , but she is much taller than me. She waddled and walked towards me and finally her hand griped mine. Then she told me “ how come you look so afraid? The water is very shallow.” I can say that that is the most weird thing I have encountered in my life. After she reached me, I felt the water was not deep anymore. It was at the level of my breasts. Suddenly, I could feel that my legs could stand on the ground. It was extremely creepy.

The interesting part is after I came back from Taman Negara, I had a chat with a colleague about the place, just discussing about jungles in general. She was smiling uneasily and said “ oh, Hnin, my parents would never allow me to go there”. I only thought overprotective parents usually don’t allow daughters to travel far. But she continued that “ do you know that my brother who was a swimming champion died in Taman Negara out of drowning. He was 19 that time. That’s the reason my parents didn’t feel good about the place”

Back to our story, after I had nearly drowning experience, I didn’t feel like staying there at night anymore. I nagged my friend to go back. But she was very keen to stay there and finally I gave in. She booked a night safari tour for us  and we were about to observe nocturnal animals . Around 8 pm, the tour guide came and fetched us to go to the palm plantation area. It was not the deep jungle. But we were at the back of the van without roof. The driver told me to hold a bottle and I thought it was like a water bottle. He told me “ this is the holy water and keep it with you. We usually carry it when we have night tour “. So, I gripped the water bottle tightly with me. We found wild pigs, pythons, fogs and lots of birds already resting on the trees.

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night safari tour

 

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birds nesting on the tree

We spent the night at a cheap motel and I couldn’t sleep well because I had a very unsettled feeling. The next morning, we drove almost 4 hours back to our town, Kuantan.

The good thing is we met a group of tourists who became our friends .

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with our new friends, Tan Richard, Ding and Simone

But the thing I want to tell you is my feelings after the trip. Once I arrived back home, I took out my camera and tried to download the photos into my laptop . The photos were both day time and night time taken. But when I looked into night time photos, I felt very uneasy feeling as if some images were inside my photo. In one photo, I found a woman sitting on the tree. ( I just wish it’s not real and I just wish it’s all my creepy ideas). Finally I shut down my computer and deleted a lot of photos. For weeks, I felt like there was someone with me, especially when I stood in front of mirror. It was very bad until I was afraid to stand in front of mirror. I called my friends and they shared me some prayers.  Finally with the help of prayers, I no longer feel the woman was around me anymore.

Well, if someone ask me “ do you wana visit Taman Negara again?”. My answer is “ No…..”

cycling in Bagan , Ancient city of Burma

Yesterday, I read a post named “ Silly things I made during my travel “ by a blogger whom I follow.

Then , I was thinking about the silly things I made during my wanderlust years. There are countless number of events  including

Riding a motor bike, unskillfully and had a fall paired with  a fracture of my arm in Thailand,

Going to Komodo national park when I was having period ( Do you know komodo dragons can smell the blood from a few kilometers away and can bite  you straight away as they are forever hungry carnivores. )

Swimming in river of jungle ( Taman Negara ) in Malaysia ( without knowing how to swim ) and almost drowned.

Before you get irritated with my silliness, or should I call it more like stupidity, I would like to write about Amazing Bagan.

Bagan is situated in central part of Burma, standing on the Eastern part of Ayeyarwady River. Bagan Era existed from 107 until 13th century and reined by 55 kings, there are lots of stories behind. For example, there was the time, people left pretty ladies for the human sacrifice at the area of big bird who only wishes to eat beautiful girls.  It makes more sense to think that giant bird cannot be defeated by villages and instead of letting it come to village again and again , runing everything randomly, the villagers decided to choose girls to feed the bird. I was making joke with my best friend that I would not be eaten even if I was born in Bagan that time. Haha. According to the legend, the bird ate 4300 girls until it was killed by a hero. There is a display of the statue of bird as well as the tunnel area where girls used to hide from the bird.

the statue of giant bird

the cave where the bird used to live, the place was transformed into a building with tunnel inside

the entrance of the cave

 

Some pagodas were built by a dedicated hero whose spirit still linger around the pagoda. For example, near Dama Yazaka pagoda, the tourists was taking photos and later he could see the image of a man wearing an ancient attire in his photos. Creepy! Isn’t it?

Damayazaka Pagoda

Some pagodas were built to compensate for the sins of the kings or to show the remorse. For example, King A Laun Si Thu made the mistake of vowing “ I am the most powerful King ever in Bagan” although there are 44 kings previously. He became blind because of his inappropriate statement, punished by the spirits of the previous Kings. To counteract his mistake, he made the statues of 44 Kings in gold and worshipped in the pagoda called “ Kadot Palin “.

Kadot Palin pagoda

Kadot Palin pagoda

Another example is Dhammangyan Gyi pagoda which was built by crule King “ Narya Thu” ruled AD 1163-1165. He killed his father and brother as he wanted to get the power. After the cruel killings, his guilt haunted him and had continuous nightmares. He asked National Counsellor, a monk for the advice to get rid of nightmares. The monk asked him to build the pagoda. To outdo his predecessor, he recruited the best architects from the country and made a statement that “ all the bricks should be strong and should align to adjacent bricks without any gap in between. If a pin can be inserted between two adjacent bricks, the hand of the bricklayer responsible will be chopped off”. The pagoda could withstand the earthquakes even though there is some dark stories behind. ( Bear in mind that, whatever the Kings did, was not reflection of real Buddhism and Buddhism would never allow anyone to kill for any kind of compensation. The building of pagoda cannot compensate for the sins too. It was just a cultural belief of that time )

Dhammanyan Gyi pagoda

Some pagodas have happy stories as they were built by good Kings who ruled the country with rule of Laws and justice.

Mural painting painted AD1183

Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, the tallest pagoda in Bagan with stunning archaeology

I think I am getting lost in the stories of pagoda which can be very long. Really, Bagan has many stories, many types of buildings built in different Eras. When Myanmar Government ordered the residents to move out of area of ancient buildings, the place became deserted at night. It has been a good decision ever as people can destroy our archaeological value.

bagan

When I visited Bagan in 2014, me and my friend decided to cycle in the ancient city as it will give us access to a small lanes and hidden areas. As it was in February, it was not so hot . However, Bagan is always a bit more hotter than other parts of Burma. We hired battery bike and cycled them to various temples. We cycled across the river banks, near pagodas and remnants of unknown buildings, etc. We felt like we were back in the past, exactly 2500 years ago, lost in all old buildings.

me and my best friend

resting before continuing our cycling

me with archaeological remnants

 

 

beautiful Ayeyarwady river

river bank where you can see life style of people

boats are the main transport for some villagers

Htilogminlo pagoda, AD1218( it was built with the wish to get the throne )

we found people getting on hot air balloon,

 

remnants of building

sunset of Ayeyarwady , taken from Bu Phayar

 

But we didn’t notice the battery bike need to be charged. So in the end, the battery ran out and we were stranded in Middle of Nowhere in Bagan. It was quite far from the town and very deserted. As it was getting dark, I recalled stories my friends told me. There are still lots of spirts around Bagan and they decided to come out at night to have a stroll around pagodas. Some are pretty ladies wearing ancient Attire and they like to hire the horse wheel cart. The drivers of these horse wheel cart are used to the spirits and usually allow them to get on the carriage. Upon getting off, the ladies would offer them gold coins in return of gratitude. Some drivers were freaked out and ran away as soon as they see that sort of girls on the road.

horse wheel cart , transport for Bagan

Sulamuni pagoda where you can see the giant heads in each corner of pagoda, it was meant to protect the pagoda

Back to our story, while we were alone on the highway at twilight, I was more concerned about spirits and ghosts than the robbery. As usual, I am full of imagination and I would not know how to react if the spirits came out and talked to us . So we tried to get a lift from passing vehicles. Unfortunately, the road was rarely used by travelers and for a long time, we couldn’t see anyone. Then some private cars passed by us without offering us any lift. Finally, a motor bike stopped for us and offered one of us a lift to go back to town. It means one of us would be left behind with two bikes without battery. None of us wanted to be left alone. So we declined the offer. Then the biker said “ it is getting dark. I am worried for your safety. I will wait until we get another bike. However, who will take care of the bikes? If the bikes are unattended , someone will steal them. You should call to owner”.

So we desperately tried to contact the owner of the bikes. We were worried we would miss the bus as it was only one hour away from the departure time. We were supposed to go back to Yangon on the same day. Finally, the owners of bikes came to rescue us. They took back the bikes so that we could safely go to the bus station with the gentle men who gave us the lift.

 

Next time, I would charge the bike every 4 hours. Don’t worry.

Note: These photos were taken in 2014 before the earthquake of 2016. So some buildings were damaged due to earthquake and you might not find the original pagodas anymore.

 

Beautiful Pindaya Cave, Shan State, Burma

20161229_145145.jpgNow, I wana post photos of Pindaya Cave in Burma. The Cave has legends and its situated near a big lake and people believe angels came and swam in the deep blue water of Lake.

While angles were inside the cave after a good swim, a giant spider closed the entrance with its spider webs and trapped them.

Then a prince appeared and killed the spider. Later, he fell in love with the youngest sister and the angle did not follow his sisters back to Heaven.

However she was forced to go back by her father  . Later the prince went up to Heaven to bring her back.

Anyway, there are lots of Buddha statues and pagodas inside the cave now.

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the view on the way to cave

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The view on the way to cave

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Gorgeous landscape

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These trees are more than hundred years

 

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PONE TA LOTE LAKE

 

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The view from the cave

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