Yoma Central and The Peninsula Yangon to be built by construction giants, Bouygues Construction and Taisei

Landmark ProjectDecember 11, 2017

YOMA Strategic Holdings Ltd. (“Yoma Strategic” or the “Company”, and together with its subsidiaries, the “Group”) announced the signing of an agreement with two of the most prestigious and respected global construction companies to build Yoma Central and The Peninsula Yangon.

Both projects sit on an approximately 10-acre site in the heart of downtown Yangon and are considered one of the most ambitious building development in Yangon’s modern time.

The combined contract value of the projects is over US$400 million, and the main works contracts will include civil, structural, architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and heritage works.

For the Yoma Central project, the building contractor is BTJV Myanmar Company Limited which is a joint venture between Dragages Singapore Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, a global player in the building, civil works, energy and services sectors and, Taisei Corporation, one of Japan’s oldest and largest building construction and civil engineering company.

The Peninsula Yangon project will be built by BYMA Pte Ltd, which is a joint venture between Dragages Singapore Pte Ltd and the Group.

Mr. Cyrus Pun, Executive Director of Yoma Strategic remarked: “Yoma Central is considered one of the largest foreign direct investments in Myanmar’s real estate sector with an investment of more than US$700 million. It is important that we bring in world class civil and engineering expertise to develop this flagship Yangon property. Bouygues Construction has unrivalled experiences in the field of heritage conservation, coming from a history of restoration projects which includes some of the most prestigious historic hotels in Europe. Japan’s Taisei Corporation is one of the oldest and biggest construction companies in Japan and was involved in the New Doha International Airport in Qatar, and the construction of the New National Stadium in Japan.”

Martyn Sawyer, Group Director, Properties of the HongKong and Shanghai Hotels said: “We are delighted to reach this significant milestone for Yoma Central and The Peninsula Yangon. Today’s signing ceremony reflects an important step in the journey towards building one of Yangon’s finest luxury hotels and world-class residences. Our partners, Yoma Strategic and FMI, share our long-term vision for Myanmar as an exciting destination for business and leisure, and we look forward to the project completion in 2021.”

Nicolas Borit, CEO of Bouygues Batiment International said: “We are really honoured to have been appointed to build the exceptional Yoma Central and The Peninsula Yangon projects. We are excited about working with the Yoma Strategic Group for our third project in Myanmar, as well as new partners, the Mitsubishi Group and HongKong and Shanghai Hotels. Yoma Central and The Peninsula Yangon are ambitious projects, both technically and geographically challenging. It will surely allow our team to showcase their skills in refurbishing an historic building and developing new modern structures around the development.”

In February 2017, Yoma Strategic held a Groundbreaking Ceremony to commemorate receiving the Myanmar Investment Commission (“MIC”) permits.

Construction work has already commenced, including the demolition of FMI Centre and Grand Meeyahta Executive Residences, test piling, storm drain diversionand the construction of a culvert under the Bogyoke Aung San Road.

Conservation works including the dismantling, cataloguing and storing of all windows, doors, balconies, cast iron and other architectural items have been completed, and those items will be reused in accordance with the Conservation Management Plan for the former headquarters of the Burma Railway Company.

Façade strengthening and underpinning works are being undertaken to ensure that the building is conserved and refurbished to international standards.

Chengdu: Homeland of Pandas

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Panoramic View of Mt. Emei

MY visit to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province was like nothing I had ever experienced. The land is well known as the home of the giant pandas but actually I soon realized that Chengdu has more to offer than just Pandas.

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Chengdu City Center

I visited Chengdu in June, one of the nice months to travel Chengdu. Since there is no direct flight to Chengdu from Yangon, I took a flight to Nanning, a city of Southern China first and then took a transit flight to Chengdu.

My arrival time to Chengdu was at about 5pm and I straight go to dinner before going to check-in at the hotel.  Along the way to dinner, my impression about  Chengdu city is clean, vibrant, and a massive modern city.

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Chengdu Night View

My first taste of Szechuan Spice, famous from this region of the Sichuan Province are amazing. The dinner was so good included a delicious Chinese buffet style dinner. I had enjoyed my first day dinner very very well.

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Chun Xi Lu Street

After dinner, it was off to the hotel Crowne Plaza in the center of the city. The location of the hotel is in the city center and just opposite to the Chendgu’s famous “Chun Xi Lu” shopping street and dining area.

My first night in Chengdu was wonderful and I got back my room after spending some times in the shopping street, assuming that I’ll definitely visit there again before leaving Chengdu.

Chengdu Research of Giant Panda Breeding

The next morning after breakfast, my first visit was to see pandas at the Chengdu Research of Giant Panda breeding. It was opened in 1987 and now home to over 80 giant pandas, located about 16 km from Chengdu city center.

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Entrance of Chengdu Research of Giant Panda Breeding

Nowadays the endangered giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges, mostly in sanctuaries in the province of Sichuan.

However, there’s no better place in the whole of China to see giant pandas up close than at this breeding and research base.

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Pandas

The best time to visit there is early in the morning between 8am to 10am, when the pandas are fed and at their most playful. You can also observe new mothers feeding their baby pandas in the nursery room, and learn more about the base work and research through exhibits and films before exit.


New Century Global Center

My next stop after research center was to New Century Global Center, which is located in an entirely new planned area of Chengdu called “Tainfu” New District.

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Main Entrance of New Century Global Center

It is known as the largest freestanding building in the world, included big shopping mall with more than a hundred shops and a big water part with artificial beach. The first impression I got after entering was “WOW! This is So Cool”. Yeah indeed it’s one of the must visit places in Chengdu for shopping, dining or some recreations activities.

Sichuan Mask-Changing Opera

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Chengdu’s Mask-changing Opera

After taking a rest in the hotel, I later went to watch the traditional Sichuan Opera. It is one of the must do activities once you’re in Chengdu. Sichuan Opera is a traditional show of the famed mask-changing show combined with other local shows including fire-spitting, rolling light, shadow play etc. It’s just a walking distance from my hotel and worth to see to experience the local culture and tradition by performances.

Mount Emei

The next day, I started my trip to Mt. Emei very early in morning. Mt. Emei, is located about 156km away from Chengdu city center. It is a UNESCO Natural and Cultural Heritage featuring pleasant weather, splendid natural scenery and historical buddhist sites.

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Bus Terminal to Mt. Emei

After I arrived the Emeishan town, I had to take a half bus ride, passing thorough lush forests, to the Golden Summit cable car path. Once there, I walked about 3km to the cable car.

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Walking way to Mt. Emei

It is best to take a cable car up the mountain as you need a lot energy to walk further up the mountain. As the cable car ascends the mountain, it was awesome to enjoy the ride with the views over the tress, craggy cliffs and felt myself floating through low hanging clouds.

At the summit, located at 10,167 ft above the sea level, I firstly experienced the sea of clouds stretching out below before going through the stairways to the temples, monasteries and some shops.

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Stairways to Golden Temple & Golden Buddha Statue

I felt so blessed and lucky enough to see such an amazing place in the earth. That moment I realized why Mt Emei is known as a place where Earth meets Heaven.

It is indeed a wondrous world. The trees are verdant almost all the year round. The waterfalls are splendid and the whole scenery is beautiful, quiet and peaceful. Our local friend said that the landscape varies according to the seasons, the height and the climate.

Once you reach the top of the mountain, you will be amazed by the view of Huazhang Temple, which was constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1640) and restored in the 1970’s.

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Me with the Golden Temple in the backdrop

There is the highest golden Buddha Statue of Puxian in the world, casting in copper and plated in Gold. Also, you will indulged in the spectacular view from the summit. The golden Buddha was invisible until miraculously the clouds parted and it came into perfect view.

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Golden Buddha Statue

A local tour guide told me that  Mt. Emei is the highest of the four Sacred Mountains of China, which have attracted Buddhist pilgrims for centuries. According to the history, China’s first Buddhist temple was built on Mt. Emei in the 1st century, and there are 76 Buddhist monasteries dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties dotted across the mountain.

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Me with Golden Buddha Status in the backdrop

It is advisable to stay one night the day before you visit to other places in Emeishan. Due to my trip plan, I stayed one night in Mount Emei Hotel.  About 15 min walking distance from the hotel, I found plenty of local food stalls and  souvenirs shops. Like many other places in Sichuan, Emieshan also offers varieties of local foods which are tasty and of course spicy.

The Leshan Giant Buddha

The follow day, I had early morning breakfast and proceed my journey to Leshan Giant Buddha.

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Leshan Giant Buddha

The Leshan Buddha was carved at the confluence of three particularly dangerous rivers to ease the dangers for boats. According to the history, It tooks around 90 years to carve out (713-803 AD), and the monk who started the work Hai Tong never lived to see its completion.

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Me with Leshan Giant Buddha in the backdrop

Upon arrival, we took a river cruise to visit Leshan Buddha. I enjoyed the spectacular view of the huge statue from our boat, and you can also clim about 300 steps from the entrance to the top, where you will see three rivers such as Min River, Qingyi River and Dad River confluence together.

Then walk down stairs along the Red Sand Cliff Road to view the phenomenal Leshan Giant Buddha from the bottom,climb up at the opposite side of the hill.

It was a amazing trip, followed by a lunch in a local restaurant and tried the authentic yummy foods. After the sightseeing in Leshan, I then transferred to Chengdu and checked-in at the same Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Jin Lin Street

Going to this place is like bring me back to the good old days. Jin Li Street is part of WuHou Temple. Visiting around Jin Lin Street is free, but visiting old WuHou Temple need an entrance fee, each ticket is about sixty yuan.

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Famous Jin Lin Street

There are many shops selling native products in the street. You will see many retro residential buildings have opened numerous cafes and bars.

For me this is a place to experience the perfect combination of chinese and western culture. I recommend to visit this place at night to chill with your friends, and have some drinks, enjoy music and taste some local foods.

In conclusion, visiting Chengdu is one of the most valuable experiences to me. Despite its modern development, Chengdu has a nice mix of old and new and you can easily explore the rich history and culture of the city while enjoying the nightlife and shopping. If I have a chance, I will visit China again to explore the other parts of this wonderful land.

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Pear shaped like Happy Buddha selling in the market



Things to know before going to China:

Visa to China:
China do not offer visas on arrival. So the most important things to do is to arrange your visa well in advance at the Chinese Embassy.

Language & Communication:

Chengdu is a big city. I always see crowd almost everywhere. People are friendly and helpful but the only problem is hard to communicate in English.

In order to avoid any mis-communications, please make sure you know how to come back your place if you go out alone or highly recommend to take an address card of the hotel written in Chinese in case you lost the way back to your place.

With the exception of upscale or branded stores, you can be bargained. You don’t need to worry much as most vendors have calculator and it helps you to bargain or negotiate the price.

Foods:

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Sichuan Spicy Foods

Here in Chengdu, foods are so delicious and spicy. If you are not into Chinese foods, you still have varieties of choices from KFC, Burger to Pizza. My favorite and recommend to try is Gong Bar Ji Ding , spicy diced chicken with peanuts along with a bowl of steam rice. There are many other signature dishes if you can eat most Chinese foods.

Mobiel & Internet:
It is cheap and easy to get a Chinese SIM card. You can either text or call a service and they’ll translate whatever you want to say from English to Chinese (or vice versa).

Make sure your mobile has Express VPN app if you want to use Gmail, Facebook, Youtube or others social media while in China.

Tissue & Hand Sanitizer:
Most public toilets in China do not provide enough toilet paper. It’s always a good idea to keep a tissue pack and a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you just to be sure 🙂

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Weekend Gateway To Forgotten Hill Town

HOLIDAYS or vacations are words that bring joy to everyone. As my office was closed four days for Tazaungdaing lighting festival, I decided to go somewhere a hilly region for holidays.

When we think of visiting hilly region, well-known destinations such as Pyin Oo Lwin, Kalaw, Taunggyi and Lashio are the first ones that come to our mind. Right?

But do you know there is a forgotten hilltop town much closer to Yangon? Yeah it is named Thandaung Gyi. It was once used by the British as a popular summertime retreat during the colonial era, located just about 200 miles away from Yangon and can be reached by a car or bus on a half days’ journey.

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Thandaung Gyi Landscape

Actually Thandaung Gyi has been on my bucket list for far too long and I am so glad that I finally managed to tick this off my bucket list.

It was on a Friday morning last week, I started my road trip to Thandaung Gyi at 7am. It took me about 5 hrs to drive to reach Taungoo.  From Taungoo to Thandaung Gyi is only 27 miles up by car passing through lush virgin forests, cascading mountain streams and climb gradually to over 4,000 feet, to reach Thandaung Gyi town.

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Beautiful Thandaung Gyi Sunset

The road from Taungoo through Thandaung and up to Thanthaung Gyi is a breathtaking experience as it snakes up the hills for two and a half hours through lush green hills. Due to its altitude, it is significantly cooler than lowland areas.

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Road to Thandaung Gyi 

When I reached to the town, it was already 2pm. The town is overlooked by Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain. It is quite a small town only 1.57 sq-miles (1,007 acres), and set in a stunning locations atop the Dawparkho mountain rage in Northern part of Kayin State.

After looking at a few guesthouses, I finally got a decent room at Peace House Bed & Breakfast. The owner of the guesthouse is so friendly and treat every guests like their house members. The staffs are also warm and their hospitality is simply awesome.

Later I had my late lunch at Nepalese restaurant nearby the guesthouse. Actually I could do nothing special that day except I visited tea plantation site near the town and enjoyed the beautiful Sunset of Thandaung Gyi.

 

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It was also wonderful walking under the lofty pines in the serene stillness of the forest. By the time I got back to the guesthouse, it was already sundown. I felt a soft, cold breeze and the full moon night was equally charming. It was such a pleasant over night stay in Thandaung Gyi that I will never forget.

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Road to Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain

Next morning I woke up early, enjoyed the breakfast, and decided to go up to Naw Bu Baw Prayer Mountain, which is a significant religious site for the local Karen Christians.

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Stairway to Naw Bu Baw Mountaintop

There is a stairway with 374 steps climbs to the mountaintop and along the stairway are many small prayer rooms for pilgrims. There is an odd boat-shaped chapel on the peak, evoking the biblical tale of Noah’s ark and topped a huge Christian Cross.

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Boat-shaped Chapel along with a Giant Christian Cross

You can still see an old Baptist Church called Zion Hill Church, and another Baptist Church and an Anglican Church on another hill. You can also visit an old Roman Catholic Church in Thandaung Gyi.

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Magnificent View from Naw Bu Baw Mountaintop

Thandaung Gyi is also home to colonial-era buildings, including a military-owned tea processing plant that was once used to make tea for Lipton.

Those who do visit can go trekking to nearby villages, or try full day hike to the waterfall and hot spring at Taw Pyar Gyi. Local guiding is highly recommended and can be arranged through guesthouses.

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Tea Plantation in Thandaung Gyi

Thandaung Gyi is great for those who don’t want to travel far yet get a break from hustle-bustle of Yangon city. Unlike many other hill towns, what Thandaung Gyi does offer is full of natural beauty, lush virgin forests and fresh-air.

I left sorrowfully and silently said goodbye to Thandaung Gyi but I hope to visit this lovely town again sometimes soon.

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Beautiful Pa Thi Creek in Thandaung Lay

On my way back, I stopped at Thandaung Lay, just 13 miles away from Taungoo. It sits along the bank of the roiling, monsoon-swollen Pa Thi Creek on 100 acres of shady land.

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Pa Thi Creek

The water is crystal clear and good to relax your mind and body, but I felt this area requires to place an environmental regulations that protect the sustainability of the creek and protect trash in the area. Otherwise, it was just so amazing.

However, this trip made my weekend amazing. I can’t wait to share my experiences with my family, friends about my trip, and I also can’t wait to show them all the photos I took.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my spectacular trip and hope I have inspired you to travel more often!!! 🙂



Romantic Legend of Thandaung Gyi

NOT only was Thandaung once a popular hill station retreat for the British during the colonial era, but it was also the site of a legendary romance between a prince named Saw Thaw Oh Khwa, and the beautiful maiden Naw Bu Baw, who was the daughter of the King of the Sea.

According to the story, Naw Bu Baw travelled from the sea to Thandaung to be with Saw Thaw Oh Khwa, who was native to the area. The young couple married and spent their time roaming the mountains, streams and meadows of Than Daung together.

But the local people would not accept Naw Bu Baw’s marriage to their prince, accusing her of being a witch because she possessed a magical silver comb that made her shine like the sun and that also made her invisible when she put it under her feet.

One day, Saw Thaw Oh Khwa went to the eastern mountains to fight against an invading army. Naw Bu Baw gave her magic comb to the prince so he could disappear when the enemy attacked.

But Saw Thaw Oh Khwa died during the battle because he thought that merely possessing the magic was enough to keep him safe. Rather than turn himself invisible, he acted daringly and foolishly in the fight, and was therefore vanquished by his enemies.

The local people blamed Naw Bu Baw for the death of the prince. Accusing her of witchcraft, they dragged her to the highest hillside in the area and imprisoned her in a rock cavern.

Locals say that to this day, the troubled soul of Naw Bu Baw still wanders through the beautiful, mist-shrouded forests of the Than Daung area. Even now the cave where she was locked can still be seen.



How to get there:

  • The best way to go Tuandaung Gyi is going by a car to Taungoo through Yangon-Mandalay Express road and passing through Thandaung Lay, just 13 miles and 45 minutes by car from Taungoo.
  • If you prefer using the railway, you can ride the train from Yangon to Taungoo in about six hours, and from Taungoo to Thandaung Gyi it is only 27 miles up by car passing through lush virgin forests.

Accommodation:

  • There a number of small guest houses and Bed & Breakfast in Thandaung Gyi that are licensed for foreigners, most of which are located along the main road of a town.

Note:

  • Access to Thandaung Gyi is free, but foreign visitors should carry a copy of their passport to give to police at a checkpoint a few kilometres outside the town.

Let’s Get Lost in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong International Airport

WHEN you’re on a business trip, you typically don’t have much time to yourself. However, I started look up all the fun things to do in that city two days before attending my business conference in Hong Kong. Make a list of every sight I would like to see, from the island tour to light show, then prioritize according to how much time I have.

Visit to The Peak
If there is one place that you cannot miss on your trip to Hong Kong, it is The Peak. As I stay in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, from my place to the peak, I took subway from Tsim Sha Tsui to Admiralty stations near Lippo Center. Once you exit from Admiralty station you have to walk about 5 min to Admiralty Garden where you can take a City Bus no. (15) to the Peak. For me this is one of the most fun ways to get to the Peak, other than the Peak Tram. Of course, I decided to take Tram on my way back.

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Inside The Peak Tower

Perched at a height of 396m above sea level, it is one of the most chic architectural icons in Hong Kong. With a futuristic design representing the quintessence of contemporary architecture, the fabulous tower substantially adds to the glory of the city. Some of the best views are on the Peak Circle Walk, which winds around the highest point on Hong Kong Island.

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One the top of The Peak Tower and Panoramic view of Hong Kong

The Peak Circle Walk begins at Lugard Road near the Peak Tower. The sections that are narrow, cliff-side paths are called ‘plank roads’. You’ll see the spectacular panoramic view of the Victoria Harbour when you arrive at the Lugard Road.

Lugard Road runs into Harlech Road, which will slowly take you back to the Peak Tower and to the end of your lap around The Peak. It takes about 15 minutes to traverse the entire tree-shaded path, or a bit longer if you stop to appreciate the waterfall falling below Mount Austin Playground.

After the Peak Circle Walk, I visited to the Peak Tower. Inside the Peak Towner is a dazzling array of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues set against the backdrop of this beautiful city.

More importantly I visit to its Sky Terrace 428 on the top of The Peak Tower. It’s the highest viewing terrace in Hong Kong that offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view across Hong Kong.

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Bar Street in Tsim Sha Tsui

Whether you visit The Peak in the morning, afternoon or at nighttime, The Sky Terrace 428 is a scenic spot that you not to be missed!

As I took a bus to my journey to the Peak, in return journey I took the Peak Tram to Lower Terminus. Riding the Peak Tram is the quickest and most scenic way to experience the fabulous panoramic views of Hong Kong.

Peak Tram Operating Hours:

  • 7am to 12 midnight (Mon – Sun & Public Holidays)
  • Frequency: Departs every 10 to 15 minutes

Sky Terrace 428 Opening Hours:

  • 10am to 11pm (Mon – Fri)
  • 8am to 11pm (Sat, Sun & Public Holidays)

Lantau Island, Giant Buddha and Fishing Village

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Tai O Fishing Village, Lantau Island

If you want to see parts of the surrounding islands and amazing views, I would recommend a trip to Lantau island where you can visit to Fishing Village, old Chinese Temple and Giant Buddha aka Tian Tan Buddha.

I took a ferryboat from Hong Kong Harbour to the shores of Lantau Island. Head to Cheung Sha beach – the longest beach in the area – on a comfortable coach bus, then tour the fishing village of Tai O, where you will see traditional stilted home and learn more about daily local life.

This little place is sometimes called the “Venice of Hong Kong”, though it is just a little village with many houses built on stilts over water. A lot of Hong Kong urban residents make a short trip to visit it for an excursion and a break from the norm. You can easily spend a couple of hours in the village, just walking around the market and taking one of the small boats that take you around the harbor and the stilt houses for a close up view.

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Boating around the Tai O Fishing Village

Besides tourism, the major industry is fishing. It was a major industry, but the fishing has grown poorer. Local residents fish mainly for their own subsistence or for enjoyment.  In the markets, you can find some of the local catch and buy salted fish or shrimp paste. There are many stalls selling dried sea products close to the bus terminal and ferry terminal area. These stalls also sell souvenirs for tourists.

You can also pay visit to temples in the village namely Kwan Tai Temple honors the lord of War and Righteousness, Tin Hau Temple honors the birth of Tin Hau and people gather in this temple to celebrate and pray for healthy and safe life, and the Lung Ngam monastery to worship Boddha and the Chu Deity.

This trip will then take you to the top of Ngong Ping Plateau where you will see the famous Buddha statue stretches more than 111ft (34 m) high and is the largest seated, outdoors bronze Buddha on earth.

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Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha

Opposite to the Statue, the Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed “the Buddhist World in the South”. Home to many a devout monk, this monastery is rich with colorful manifestations of Buddhist iconography and its pleasant garden is alive with birdsong and flowery scents. You can also enjoy a meal at its popular vegetarian restaurant. This trip offers up some of the most spectacular natural views and definitely not to be missed when you are in Hong Kong.

How to get there:

  • MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then take Ngong Ping Cable Car, which takes around 25 minutes. Then walk for around 10 minutes to the monastery; or
  • MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then take New Lantao Bus 23 from Tung Chung Town Centre, which takes around 45 minutes. Then walk for eight minutes; or
  • Catch ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo, then take New Lantao Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Village, which takes around 40 minutes.
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I feel blessed when I look at Buddha

1881 Heritage
My visit to 1881 Heritage was just an accident. Yeah I found it accidentally when I actually go to the harbour site for the light show. 1881 Heritage quickly takes me to Victoria-era Hong Kong. From 1880s to 1996, this was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police. Several buildings and artifacts of historical interest have been preserved and restored, and the site now features a shopping mall, a heritage hotel and an exhibition hall.

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1881 Heritage Building

The site contains a number of Declared Monuments, the most interesting of which is the Time Ball Tower. From 1885 to 1907, this tower provided a vital service to ships in Victoria Harbour. Many of these vessels had arrived in Hong Kong after long voyages, during which their chronometers would have lost accuracy. A one-minute error could result in a ship becoming lost, with dire consequences for the crew.

The ball mounted on the pole in this tower was raised manually every morning and, with data provided by the Hong Kong Observatory, it was dropped at 1pm every day. The tower was in full view of the harbour and the dropping of the ball allowed ships to recalibrate their chronometers to an accuracy of one-tenth of a second, before they departed Hong Kong for other parts of the world. Interesting huh? Just make sure to explore this wonder site during your visit to Hong Kong.

How to get there:

  • By MTR get off at Tsim Sha Tsui station and Exit E, walk towards Salisbury Road, turn right, take subway (pedestrian tunnel) next to YMCA to 1881 Heritage.

Symphony of Light in Victoria Harbour
Very close to 1881 Heritage across the road is the Avenue of Stars. It is a scenic seaside promenade in the east of Tsim Sha Tsui. It is also a place to enjoy A Smphony of Lights, a very famous laser lights and music show, which takes place every night in Hong Kong.

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At Avenue of Stars to enjoy the Light Show

At 8pm, over 40 skyscrapers and landmarks that lie on the sides of Victoria Harbour syncronise their lights and beam lasers in time with music. There are five themes that are used during the show such as Awakening, Energy, Heritage, Partnership and the finale is Celebration. Through interactive lighting and music show, it shows the vibrancy and glamorous night view of the city while enjoying the sea breeze, and the bustling star ferries over the sea. Such a wonderful place that you shouldn’t miss in your trip.

 How to get there:

  • By MTR, take the West Rail Line of MTR and get off at East Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Then follow the sign to the Avenue of Stars.
  • By Ferry, Take the Star Ferry and get off at Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier.

 

Hong Kong Jockey Club

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Jockey Club, Hong Kong

I felt such a privilege to have my dinner at the Moon Koon restaurant in Hong Kong Jockey Club. You can enjoy the delicious foods as you take in fantastic views of the Happy Valley Racecourse. During race time, you can keep track of the latest odds and other information displayed on LED screens set up inside the restaurant and as well as balcony seats are available to enjoy the thrilling races.

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Local Food Stall, Tsim Sha Tsui

Apart from these places, there are a lot of things to do in Tsim Sha Tsui area, which located in the south of Kowloon Peninsula and faces central across the sea.

Tsim Sha Sui

Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

The hotel I stayed was on Nathan Road which also has many shopping streets that provide a different shopping experience. Canton road is the most famous street and full of many shop selling luxurious products. Tsim Sha Tsui is also an area full of pubs and restaurants of different grades and flavors to enjoy the nightlife.

 

 

How to get there:

  • By MTR, take metro Tsuen Wan Line and get off at Tsim Sha Tsui Station, or take West Rail Line to East Tsim Sha Tsui Station.
  • By Ferry, take a Star Ferry from the pier at the Central or Wan Chai to reach the destination.

 

Nepal: Birthplace of Buddha & The Land of Mt.Everest

IF ever there is a time to visit Nepal, It’s now. Yes, it is always a good time to visit Nepal. Previously there were no direct flight services between Myanmar and Nepal. In the past, I had to pay a huge amount of money just for the airfare for my very first trip to Nepal in 2013.

Those days are gone, it has changed for the better. I no longer need to spend a huge amount of money and take a long transit flight to Nepal. I can easily buy a ticket from ‘Himalaya Airline’ and fly to Nepal directly from Myanmar, Yangon. 

Himalaya Airline started its operations to Yangon from February 24, 2017 which provided a significant boost to the airline industry both for leisure and business travels.

This time I joined the Myanmar Media FAM trip jointly organised by Himalaya Airline and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), and I visited several places including Kathmandu, Pokhara, Lumbini and Nagarkot.

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Kathmandu

We departed on a direct flight from Yangon by Himalaya Airline and landed in Kathmandu in the evening. Kathmandu is popular for its world heritage sites, which are recognized by UNESCO. Culture abounds when it comes to historical monuments, festivals and cultural splendor. Our Myanmar media group visited several places in Kathmandu including Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath, and Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Built in the 5th Century A.D, Pashupatinath temple is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for the devotees of Lord Siva. It is located on the bank of Bagmati River, and the cremations on the riverbanks are a common activity to witness. Usually tourists have the chance to see at least one open-air cremation. It is interested to learn that those who die in the temple are reborn as a human, regardless of any misconduct that could worsen their karma.

After that we continued on to Boudhanath Stupa, the holiest Tibetan Buddhist Stupa outside of Tibet. It was built during the 5th Century AD. The stupa is located on what was a major trade route between Nepal and Tibet. It used to be a resting place for many travelling merchants and you can also find many Tibetan monasteries and nunneries around the stupa. Surrounding the stupa, there are many souvenirs stalls for shopping.

We also paid a visit to Swayambhunath stupa, also known as:’the monkey temple’ by tourists for being home to many monkeys. Besides the main stupa, there are other traditional Gompas both following Newari and Tibetan Buddhism. This is an important Buddhist site for the Newar Buddhists of the valley. Swayambhunath is listed among the seven monuments on the world heritage site of Kathmandu valley. You can see the whole city from up there. It is worth visiting but be mindful of monkeys, they will take anything you put on the ground.

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Chandragiri Hills

The next day, we visited Chandragiri Hills before driving to Pokhara. Chandragiri Hills lies on the Southwest of Kathmandu valley and is 2551m above sea level. It was fun and exciting to take the 9min breathtaking journey to reach the top station by a cable car. Once on the top, you will see the panoramic views of Kathmandu valley and Himalayan ranges from Annapurna to Everest makes anyone feel like seeing whole Nepal from the hill. There are Bhaleshwor Mahadev temple, shops, restaurants, bar and plans for construction of a boutique resort, amusement park and many adventure activities.

Pokhara

After spending a few hours in Chandragiri, we then drove to Pokhara by car. For me a road travel for about 7hours from Kathmandu to Pokhara is an interesting journey along the riverbank with wonderful view of hills and rural Nepalese lifestyle. We arrived Pokhara on late evening and we immediately drive up to the mountain where Raniban retreat is located to accommodate for us.

Raniban Retreat is located in the secluded hill forest in Pokhara and accessable through its own-made 500 stone steps through wild bushes. Although it was dark by that time, the magnificent Pokhara night view, the great Fewa Lake and valley view motivate us to quickly reach to the top and enjoy the better views. We were greeted with a welcome drink and fresh towel on the terrace upon arrival. What makes Raniban Retreat unique is its restaurant using homegrown herbs and vegetables for cooking. What a pleasant stay in Raniban with spectacular view and fresh air and best place in Pokhara to enjoy sunrise in the early morning.

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Paragliding – Breathtaking experience in my life

The next morning, I decided to try Paragliding for the first time in my life. It’s something I always wanted to try at some point in my life and I finally made it in Pokhara because it’s amongst the hotspots for Paragliding in the world. I took off from the cliff tops overlooking the Pokhara city and beautiful Fewa Lake. Just imagine yourself sharing the same air space with the Himalayan griffin, vultures, eagles and kites as you soar over the rivers, lakes and villages? Yes, it’s indeed a thrill. I tried Tandem Paragliding, it means I was seated in a separate harness in front of the pilot where I can sit carefree and enjoy the surroundings, take pictures and talk with my pilot during the flight. Up there in the sky, nothing truly matters. It is quite comfortable and safe a part from a large void beneath my feet. Once you’re in Pokhara, it is the most incredible ways to enjoy the absolutely perfect view of Pokhara and surrounded Himalaya ranges.

Fewa Lake & Museum tour

We later visited to Fewa Lake, second biggest lake in Nepal. We took a boat from lakeside and visited to temple in the middle of the lake. Boat tour doesn’t cost too much, and your boat is only for you, same boat takes you back after temple. But for us it took to Fishtail Lodge for delicious lunch. After lunch, we visited to International Mountain Museum, about 5km from lakeside. The museum locations is rightly selected and I could enjoy the unique views of the 3 massive mountains peaks such as Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu which are above 8000m with our single eyesight and no place in the world offers us such panoramic view. For me Paragliding, boating on Fewa Lake, exploration visit to Mahendra Cave and Davis Fall, spectacular views of Fishtail mountain and other mountains are the best highlights of my trip to Pokhara.

Lumbini – Birthplace of Buddha

Next day we drove from Pokhara to Lumbini for about 7 hrs. While Lumbini is one of the most important religious sites in the world it doesn’t feel or look that way. Must see places in Lumbini are Temple of Mayadevi: walk inside the temple built over the spot Buddha was born, along with Mayadevi pond where Buddha’s mother is said to have bathed before giving birth to him, Bodhi tree covered in colorful prayer flags beside the pond and Ashok Pillar dedicated to Emperor Ashokan, Myanmar monastery, 2nd century BC temples to modern day temples and Lumbini museum for historic manuscripts and items from the area. We stayed overnight at Lumbini Hokke Hotel and the next morning we took a flight to Kathmandu to transfer to Nagarkot Hill town, about 32km east of Kathmandu.

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Nagarkot

Nagarkot has a reputation as the top spot fo[r enjoying Himalayan views from the comfort of your hotel balcony. In Nagarkot, we stayed at Hotel Country Villa where I could see and enjoy the Himalayan views from my room. The next morning, we drove back to Kathmandu to explore Bhaktapur Durbar Square, one of the UNESCO heritage sites in Kathmandu.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durber Square is the plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur kingdom, 1400m above the sea level. Incredible history in this square, but very unfortunate that the 2015 earthquake did so much to the buildings. Many of the beautiful buildings are damaged or completely leveled, however it is still a great experience and I found reconstruction works are underway to repair the city with original architecture. This is a place rich in ancient arts, religious values, fabulous cultural traditions, architectural masterpieces and ancient sculptures, is also know as an open museum in Nepal. Moreover the city is also famous as a city of gods.

Everest flight experience

To climb up to Everest may be beyond most of us, but as I was there I wanted to see Mt Everest so I signed up for the mountain flight with Yeti airlines. It costs me US$110 and took me on a scenic flight of the Himalayan ranges. The flight took off from the domestic airport in Kathmandu at about 7am and each passenger got a window seat in the 19-seater aircraft. The pilot made sure all the passengers had a chance to view the Mt Everest through the front windshield of the cockpit. Each passenger was allowed to step into the cockpit one at a time for an opportunity to get an optimum view and shot of the Mt. Everest. The views were awesome especially that moment when I was faced to faced with Mt. Event through cockpit; It is so hard to describe how magnificent it was to see it so close. I can’t really express by word. It was the best moment in my life and it was magnificent. As a honor for taking a trip, the airline gave us a a certificate of honor singed by the pilot.

Nepal is a country where love and peace exist. The people are the friendliest people I have met. What a beautiful country with beautiful people. I couldn’t forget what I had seen and experienced there during my week long trip to Nepal. Yeah! Absolutely one sole trip is not enough to explore Nepal. I am always looking forward to going back to Nepal once again. Can’t wait for my next trip!!!

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