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May 29, 2020

A Visit to the Moeyumgyi Wet-land Wildlife Sanctuary

When we got to the Nyaung-nha-bin Junction just outside Thaukgyan, it was well over 9 am. But as we had had nothing since waking-up, we had to fill our stomach hastily with Mohinkha(Rice noodles with gravy) at a shabby, road-side food-stall flooded with passengers. Looking eastwards after the breakfast, I saw the deep-yellow coloured morning sun entangled amongst the branches of the trees lining the Yangon-Bago High Way. Although we had been scheduled to visit the well-known pagodas in Bago, most members of our team, bewitched during the breakfast by the open sky and the vast landscape fresh from the cool night, changed mind and averted our attention to the Moe-yum-gyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary on the border between Waw and Bago townships to indulge ourselves in nature. So after the breakfast, we had to veer from the Yangon-Bago High-way and followed the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw High-way.
When we started on our trip along the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw High-way after passing the toll-gate, it started to drizzle but ceased soon, unaware. Coolness was still hanging heavy in the air, providing a promise of rain again. Everything lay silent in the glow of the rising sun partly hidden behind the banks of clouds ranging across the sky. On the road, we saw nothing but a few vehicles passing by few and far between. On both sides were wide fields fringed with villages at the far end. Since the harvest-time was over, most fields were full of stubbles, a few irrigated fields with beds of seasonal vegetables. Now and then, organic plantations were found. Some fields were dotted with fowl-farms on lakes. Clumps of trees were seen standing lonely and some cows grazing in the wide fields. Thatch-roofed huts were often seen at the centre of the plantations. Some wooded lands not far from the road were fenced with bamboo-lengths or barbed wire. We often saw police out-posts by the road-side and meditation centres on the edge of the hills hanging over the forested areas standing well back from the road. The road ahead was snaking up and down the hills until it disappeared from our view.
When we came to the 17th mile-stone, a colossal seated Buddha image towering above the wooded land a little distance on the right of the road came suddenly into our view. The arched gate-way to it read “ Shwe Pyi Aye  Phayagyi” meaning “ Gigantic Buddha Image of Peaceful Golden Country”. The Buddha image with sylvan forests in the background cast a spell on nature-lovers like us. So we turned round into the concrete path off the main road, which led to the Buddha image. After following the path winding through groves of trees growing thickly for five minutes, our car came to the platform of the Buddha image. There was a statue of a large celestial snake (Naga) with its hood raised, twisted around by many smaller snakes down the platform. A row of food-stalls was seen by the side of the snake statue. Around the 144-foot high seated Buddha Image on the terrace were found two statues of celestial snakes in the form of human, a small seated marble image and a statue of Ven. Upagutta, all of which were housed in separate pavilions. Moreover, a stone-pillar with the statues of four standing celestial kings in the manner of paying homage around its base was also found on the platform. In fact, the seated Buddha image facing east was the front side of a nine-storeyed building. To feast our eyes on the beautiful scenery near-by, we went up to the sixth floor, which commanded the surroundings areas below. We saw around the precincts deep green dense forests stretching some miles and a pagoda-crowned hill beyond the forests, a medley of red roofs of monasteries half hidden among the thick-foliaged trees to the south-east. I was convinced by the vast areas of the deep green trees below that there would be large aquifers in the rock-formations at the depth of a few feet beneath the wooded lands and a great variety of  animals would live in wild there and that some areas of our country, like that, still remain untouched and unexplored, thus bringing about its sustainable development. I noticed that, with the sun higher, the precinct was busier with pilgrims. Before we departed from the Buddha image, I approached some members of the trusteeship committee and enquired about the history of it. But none knew anything about it. But I thought that its history might be intertwined with a popular local legend. We left it at 10:30 am.
A few minutes after we had got back to the high-way, I saw some workers giving a coat of asphalt to the existing concrete road. I thought that when Nay Pyi Taw, whose Myanmar rendering is “ The Royal Capital or The Seat of Government,” was recognized officially in 2006, the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw High Way had to be built hurriedly in time, giving the road an inferior quality. Due to excess of the speed-limit of the cars and the inferior quality of the road, car accidents occurred frequently. At the sight of the workers paving the road, I let out a sigh of relief, with the thought that the road, which earned its notoriety as “The Road of No Return”, due to the high toll rate caused by the car accidents on it, would be upgraded soon. I thought that as the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay High Way officially opened in November 2010 could offer a quicker access between Lower Myanmar and Upper Myanmar, it should be upgraded as quickly as possible,  for the safety of the people who travelled daily along it.
As we were farther and farther away from Yangon, the scenes around us became more and more countrified and pleasant. Now and then, hills with a small pagoda at their top with a shady tree behind and the blue sky and ranges of gray mountains rolling in the distant background swung into view. Roofed stair-causes were seen leading up to the top of the hills. It seemed to me that the twinkling of bells from the pagodas was heard. I had a feeling of religious awe as if in the precincts of a monastery or a meditation centre. These pagoda-crowned hills suggest that the Myanmars is a peace-loving people who take shelter in the loving-kindness of the Compassionate Buddha. At some spots, the road passed by steep hill-sides resembling freshly-cut slices of bread, where some horizontally stratified rocks were found embedded in the rock matrix. In some places, the gullies on the roadside dropped away gradually to a considerable depth as far as a place where another chain of thinly-wooded hills rose again abruptly. We often saw a few villagers plodding along the tracks through wooded lands on the road-sides to the neighbouring villages. Micro-wave towers were occasionally seen standing tall above the trees growing on hills. At a certain place, we saw the National Power Grid running east-west through far-off hills. We also espied hay-stacks in some harvested fields. Often, we saw some cattle lumbering down the grassy moors lining the road.
To be continued

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