Journey to Mt. Victoria
Since a couple of years ago, Mt.
has been one of the most-wanted destinations on
top of our travel list(s). Finally, in
April 1999, we obtained the permission to bring
our clients to the highest peak of the Chin Hills
at over 3,000 metres.
Our operation manager, a trekking enthusiast, was more than thrilled
to be one of the few foreign visitors exploring
this remote area which has long been restricted.
Fully equipped - that's what he thought - he started the
adventurous journey, together with our guide Ko
Win Oo. Taking the night train to Bagan, he hoped for a good sleep
on the reclining chair, but soon found out that
there was no rest for the wicked
millions of people were celebrating the New Year,
thus the Water Festival, in full swing, the
windows of the train being open, neither umbrella
nor rain coat protecting him, he gave up and even
stopped counting the innumerable stops on the
After a 21 hours eventful, wet ride he reached
Bagan, and our friend Juergen Voss, the General
Manager of the Bagan Hotel, not only offered him one of his
exotic dinners he uses to create once a while,
but also a decent shower in one of the hotel's
sunrise, our two travellers chartered a local
sampan and enjoyed a peaceful two hours river
journey to Pakkoku on the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Latest now our operation manager forgot his pile
of work waiting for him on his desk in Yangon. The early morning colour
of the mighty Ayeyarwaddy changing first from
dark orange to light yellow and later shimmering
through bands of dusty blue haze, gave the whole
scenario a surreal experience.
In Pakkoku they
climbed into a kind of American-Japanese
"joint-venture" vehicle a US
World War II jeep with a Japanese engine. It was
good enough for a not so heavenly, but bumpy 8
hours' drive to Mindet.
Our friend Lt.Col.
Aung Moe Myint, the district commander of this
area, gave us a warm welcome and also provided
proof of the efficiency of his headquarter by
presenting us with a complete price list of all
available facilities to be offered. Well aware
that we like the unusual, at the end of the
business discussion he introduced a Chin nose
flute player, next to him his wife with an
artistically tattooed face.
Next morning before dawn, our two friends started
their several days' trekking tour into the Chin
Hills, accompanied with one army officer and two
soldiers, a local guide and 3 porters. From the
valley with its cultivated fields and low pine
forest with rhododendron, the foot path soon got
steeper and steeper, leading into a landscape of
dark evergreen forest with large oaks and
laurels. Among the spectacular scenery of this
dense jungle full of herbaceous treasures,
orchids and violets the small expedition visited
several villages. Shy and cautiously our visitors
were invited to have a cup of rice whine, which
helped both parties to warm up - women in
colourful traditional costumes, the older ones
having heavily tattooed faces and smoking tobacco
pipes, some of the men still wearing pure golden
earrings, inherited by their fathers. Family
stories were exchanged, questions answered,
with these memories, our crew left the friendly
and shy villagers to leave for the summit of Mt.
Victoria. Our party finally reached their
destination. Out of the blue there was the golden
shimmering 5-year old Zi Na Man Aung Pagoda which
gave a nice contrast to the white and blue
anemones. Our guide took off his
trekking shoes and paid respect to the pagoda,
wishing to have a second chance to come back to
the land of the Hornbill Birds.
© 1999 Myriam