Myitkyina, the capital of the Kachin state is gateway to the world renowned Jade mines at Hpakant, and the only snow-capped mountains in Southeast Asia. It where the Ayeyarwaddy river originates, as a confluence of the Meikha and Malikha streams, and begins its journey all the way across Myanmar. It is the northern most railway terminal, 919 miles from Yangon and 487 miles from Mandalay. People living in the Kachin state are predominately Kachin, with several indigenous types of tribal minorities such as Jampaw, Thempaw, Lisu, and Rawan.
Myitkyina today is the center of jade processing and marketing. The major attractions in the region are the confluence between the two rivers, the local market for jade and everything else, and expeditions to Mount Gamlan Razi (19,215 ft) and Ganlan Razi with (19,142 ft) for mountaineering enthusiasts. Each year in January animist festival can also be witnessed near Myitkyina.
Myitkyina can be reached either by air from Yangon and Mandalay, or by train from Yangon via Mandalay. There are regular flights between Yangon and Myitkyina which only takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes. You can also fly to the neighbouring destinations of Puta-O and Bamao directly from Myitkyina. The rail service to Myitkyina is mostly used by local travellers and can take anywhere between 24 to 36 hours.
Myit sone in Myanmar means ‘the confluence’ which in the region implies where the Mekha and Malikha rivers join to become the famous Ayeyawaddy River. The place itself is scenic and has long been a favourite to the Burmese people.
The Indawgyi Lake is the largest natural lake in Myanmar, and it stretches for 24 km and with a width of 12 km. The lake is located 178 km southwest of Myitkyina. It is truly picturesque as it is set in a 1,000 meter high basin carved in the center of a mountainous area that lies to south of the Indian border. In the middle of the lake dwells the Shwe Myint Zu Pagoda which is believed to contain enshrined holy relics of the Buddha. The lake is dotted with some 20 villages, comprising a cluster of houses standing on stilts along the shores. There is also an elephant logging camp nearby where visitors can witness elephants at work.
Hpakant has the most famous jade mines in all of Myanmar. The region is accessible from Myitkyina via Moekaung and Kaming towns. A few year back miners accidently found a massive jade rock that weighs more than 2000 tons.
Bahmo is home to another major Kachin settlement that lives on the bank of Ayeyarwady River. It is the northernmost town that can be travelled along the Ayeyarwaddy River. It is possible to travel to Bahmo from Mandalay with a boat while stopping at towns and villages along the way. It takes about 36 hours to cruise upstream to Bahmo from Mandalay with a luxury ferry and 24 hours to return. As Bahmo has long been a doorway into China, the town is a trade center with markets selling local products and various farm produce. Different indigenous tribes come together from various corners of the Kachin state to trade their own goods here. Bahmo also hosts the Manu festival(animist festival) each year in January.
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