Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Twante village visit

Last Saturday, 19 July, the Myanmar people commemorated Martyrs' Day, the day General Aung San and other ministers were assassinated. This happened in 1947, the year Burma gained independence from Britain, a process in which the General was deeply involved. 

His daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, was 2 years old at that time. People in the capital, from what we saw, lay wreaths of flowers at his statue, a procession of people walked through the streets with pictures of the assassinated persons, and visited in great numbers the Bogyoke ("General" in Myanmar language) Museum. We already visited it and his last residence contains personal objects, furniture, and books. The house has a beautiful architecture and a nice garden. The collection inside is not huge and can be seen in at most one hour.

But last Saturday we decided to leave Yangon for a short trip on the other side of the Yangon River. We reached the jetty which is very busy with taxis and a wet market (it is close to the Strand hotel). The boats leave several times an hour. People transport all imaginable things from one side to the other. 

During the short trip the vendors offer from quail eggs and snacks to powder to remove stains with a live demonstration (just like in the sales channels). The river is not very wide but has some strong currents. From the boat you will notice the Yangon port.

Once on the other side the bustle and the noise restart. It was a kind of push and shove but it seemed everybody managed to find a way to quickly leave the jetty area. Unlike in Yangon where motorbikes are not allowed, there are plenty of those once you cross into Dala village. There are several rumors why the authorities have banned them from the city. The official reason is that they broke traffic rules frequently causing many accidents.

We did not sop in Dala and decided to continue to the Twante village. We found the following options to arrive in Twante, the place where you can visit traditional pottery workshops: trishaws, bikes, motorbikes, small buses, large old buses and taxis. We opted for the bus. And we started an approximately one hour trip covering 30 km over a bumpy road. The seats in the bus are cramped. Even I found it a bit difficult to sit. Each bus has a 'conductor' who shouts out the destination so that people know in which direction the bus is headed. He is also collecting the money from the passengers.

I took advantage of the fact that it had stopped raining for a while so I was taking a lot or pictures from the window. When it is not raining the windows provide the air conditioning but also a way for the men to spit out the red juice from the chewed betel (more about this in another post). So I had to pay attention from time to time at the man in front of me to be careful with my camera not to take pictures with red dots! 

Below some pictures from the rural Myanmar. There is a lot of water in this lowland area especially now in the rainy season so the locals use the land to plant rice. But there is generally a lot of wet land because as of Twante, to the south and south-west, the Irrawaddy Delta begins. Most people live in thatched bamboo houses and I was thinking about the monsoon season and the Nargis Cyclone. What chance do these people have in the face of these strong winds and heavy rains? Many people died when the 2008 Cyclone Nargis swept through this part of the country.

When we arrived in the main square of the village heavy clouds were announcing rain again. We took a taxi for a very short distance to reach the pottery workshops having as a guide a local person who was riding on the same bus with us. We visited four workshops which look like the one below and are owned by several families.

They produce many pottery items (water mugs, pots, scents supports, vases, clay water filters). In one workshop only one woman was working while in others you had families or more members of the family involved in the process of manufacturing. Everything is done manually. No workshop painted the final product. They told us they sell in Yangon and they can even ship to the capital if we are interested. In Yangon we saw a lot of pottery for sale but most of it is nicely painted. So we suppose this is done in the capital and they just buy the 'raw materials' from Twante.

On our way back we took a seat in the front of the bus. It started raining again.


  1. I have read about your blog regarding your trip to Twante.
    I’m going to Yangon together with my parents in Nov 2014.
    I would like to bring them to Twante too but I afraid they will be too tired to walk around.
    Is there any Twante city tour provided by the local people?

    Warmest Regards,

  2. Hello!
    You can hire a guide from one of the local travel agencies in Yangon (please let me know if you need a tip). Twante is not a very big village and it is pleasant to walk around. We spontaneously visited this village and were lucky that one of the bus travellers offered to accompany us to see the pottery workshops.
    How many days will you spend in Yangon?
    Happy planning of your trip,

  3. Love the article, and very happy to have you post your snippet to it on Adventurebods.com
    Lets hope things continue to develop and the people's lives improve.
    All the best,

    Andy Seabrook

  4. I'm going there 12-15Nov. I'm planning to go to Twante on 14Nov. Any tips for getting a local guide?