Prem and Raj have a friend with a car, and they arranged a little tour for my last day in Myitkyina. The first stop was a temple approximately 30km from Myitkyina off the road that follows the Irrawaddy River (25.63733, 097.50020). The temple has a large world globe at its centre, which isn’t something i have seen before. The view from the temple is pretty good, and the dwellings that can be seen from this viewpoint are mostly inhabited by the villagers that were relocated here to make way for the Myitsone hydroelectric dam project. The Myitsone Dam is a a joint venture between the Myanmar government and Beijing-based China Power Investment Corporation. The Myitsone dam project was suspended in 2011 by President Thein Sein, due to concerns over safety (the area is prone to earthquakes), and environmental and social problems.
We were offered food at the temple. The food had been donated by people in the surrounding villages and was really delicious.
We then went to a really nice place at the river to have a beer and something more to eat (25.62730, 097.51328). This place is quite close to Myitsone – the scenic confluence of the Mayhka (N’Mai) and Malikha rivers which marks the start of the mighty Irrawaddy river – so could make a great place to stop on the way back from there. Bamboo platforms are built over a small beach, providing a great place to relax and enjoy the view.
Our final stop was at Jaw Bum (25.50467, 097.44555), which is lookout tower with views across Myitkina and the Irrawaddy. It’s a popular destination with locals at the weekend. Sadly, around a dozen monkeys are kept in cages in appalling conditions. It was really heartbreaking to see them kept like this. We then returned to the River View restaurant in Myitkyina for dinner and our final few beers, before i returned to the YMCA for my final sleep before starting my journey home.
The next day I checked out of the YMCA and caught a motorbike taxi to the Myitkyina airport (K2,000). The immigration desk could find no record of me entering Kachin State. I told them i had arrived by train and a different file was examined, but still no record could be found. I had arrived in Myitkyina at 5am, so it was quite possible there was an immigration desk at the train station but i had been too sleepy to spot it.
The immigration officer was very nice however, and offered me a cigarette before going to find the captain. The captain was also really charming and asked me a few questions on where i had been in Kachin State. Their main concern is that you have been areas off-limits to foreigners. I got out my map and showed him the route of my entire holiday, which resulted in him pointing out the area he was from and giving me some tips on places to visit in that region for my next holiday. in Myanmar. They filled in their records based on my account of my travels, and i was allowed into the departure lounge just in time to board the plane to Mandalay, where I would catch onward flights to Bangkok, then Kuala Lumpur, and then home to Western Australia. My holiday in Myanmar was fantastic and I cannot wait to return. In particular, i am keen to come back to Myitkyina to explore the regions further north. At time of writing, you cannot access these areas on a tourist visa, but Myanmar is opening up at such a rapid rate i feel it will not be long. So long Myanmar, thanks for everything! What a wonderful country, with even more wonderful people.