About Kyaikthale village:

Kyaikthale village is home to the Mingalar Bio Garden, nearly 6-acres plot of fertile land that was turned into an essential hotspot for vegetable production shortly after the Cyclone Nargis disaster in 2008. The main beneficiary of the nutrient rich food grown here is a nearby monastic school, home to over 800 students. The aftermath of the cyclone led to severe food shortage and the residents of the monastic school were forced to live off basic staples such as rice and cooking oil, which of course led to the students being severely malnourished. In a bid to provide essential nutrients to the resident‟s diet, the Mingalar Bio Garden was established (thanks to funding by a generous entrepreneur) and to this day, it continues to play a vital and cost effective role to the school‟s food provisions.

Due to the Kyaikthale‟s remote and out of the way location, the residents have no choice but to adopt a self-sufficient, hard-working way of life. This explains why they have become increasingly reliant on home industry such as the production of bamboo baskets, the rearing of livestock and crop cultivation. Furthermore, the villagers also take great pride in being a part this small, yet close-knit village community and regularly seek to support and conserve their traditional practices and customs. Their generosity is also impossible to fault – even though the majority of residents live a very simple lifestyle, they never fail to make a tasty meal offering to the monks as they carry out their daily alms practice.

Featured activities:
One of the biggest challenges this project will face will be convincing the typical tourist to extend their time in Yangon – most are likely to spend 2 nights max (3 if you include a night on the way back at the end). We also need to think about how we will tear them away from a comfortable hotel room, which is not a problem remote area such as Chin State and Kachin State face. With this in mind, it is crucial that we develop a variety of unique, diverse and culturally rich community-based experiences that will benefit both the hosts and tourist. Although the project will not be limited to the following activities, here is a list of excursions we think would work particularly well at Kyaikthale village.

All guests would receive a warm welcome to the community. This would involve a personal greeting and introduction to the village and committee members, whilst providing the perfect forum in which the guest can ask any community specific questions.

(Benefits of this activity to the villagers: conversational English practice, opportunity to interact with tourists in a natural and unforced manner, helps to instill a sense of community pride, creates a job with structure and a respected position that the community member will take pride in).

We would invite guests to the village to work shoulder to shoulder with the Mingalar Bio Garden‟s existing workers. By doing so they can help to plant vegetables for the use of the monastic school, whilst learning about one of Myanmar‟s most important industries at the same time.

(Benefits of this activity to the villagers: Due to it being a labor intensive job, this would help to relieve the villager‟s workload, provide an opportunity for them to share skills/knowledge, encourage interaction regardless of language proficiency and most importantly, it will create an unrivalled sense of job satisfaction/renewed self-appreciation of the important work these workers do).

Opportunity to visit a member of the community‟s home to learn about their typical day to day living, home industry, farming and agriculture.

(Benefits of this activity to the villagers: conversational English practice, opportunity to interact with tourists in a natural and unforced manner, helps to instill a sense of community pride, encourages information sharing, provides the host with an “at home” retail space to sell their goods the creates a job with structure and a respected position that the community member will take pride in).

Photo- bamboo Basket picture

Myanmar cooking lesson using freshly picked vegetables from the Mingalar Bio Garden. Seeing as quality, non-contrived cooking experiences are hard to come by in Myanmar‟s commercial capital, we think this has the potential to become a massive success (similar to the cooking lesson provided at Inle Heritage).

(Benefits of this activity to the villagers: conversational English practice, opportunity to interact with tourists in a natural and unforced manner, helps to instill a sense of community pride, helps to spread awareness of hygienic practice/basic principles, creates a job with structure and a respected position that the community member will take pride in).

Visit to Twante Township‟s glazed pottery site and monastery, the proud home of an antique pottery collection.

(Benefits of this activity to the villagers: brings in additional business that they would not otherwise receive due to the township‟s remote location, encourages community to continue with traditional practices, whilst at the same time honing their skills and creating a sense of pride in their profession).

Twante Township and the surrounding countryside have the potential to make for great hiking and cycling experiences.

This offering would perfectly suit more adventurous travellers, anyone looking to fully immerse themselves in a truly local surrounding and active families.

(Benefits of this activity to the villagers: brings in additional business that they would not otherwise receive due to the township‟s remote location, creation of new adventure focused roles, opportunity to learn about health and safety, encourages an active lifestyle and provides conversational English opportunities).

Twante is also home to some fascinating religious history, including the 1000-year old Shwesandaw Pagoda that was constructed by a powerful Mon King.

Although the pagoda has been rebuilt a number of times no thanks to natural disasters, the present design is based on the model of Shwedagon Pagoda and was introduced by King Hsinbyushin of the Konbaung Period. Best of all, the pagoda receives very few international visitors, which would ensure an experience that feels more authentic and „off the beaten track‟ in nature.

A visit to Twante would not be complete without a visit to the local market – the majority of the township‟s population gathers here every morning to pick up staple cooking produce and catch up with the latest gossip. This is truly local and the presence of anyone that‟s come from “out of town” will be sure to turn a few heads, thus leading to plenty of natural/unforced opportunities in which to interact.

For those looking to stay in Kyaikthale overnight, the main highlight will surely be the cultural performance on the main stage in the lodge‟s communal dining area. Although it would be necessary to outsource at first, in time, we could potentially look at training willing villagers to showcase their skills e.g. traditional dance, chinlon, the presentation of traditional arts and crafts. It has the potential to become a great communication outlet that would benefit both the villager and the tourist. One thing we need to be mindful of however is that there is already an abundance of culture shows, especially in Bagan, Mandalay and onboard cruise ships. Therefore we should seek to diversify and proactively offer something that‟s different.

Conclusion:
Based on our existing knowledge and long-term association with the community in question, we believe this carefully thought community based tourism proposal has the potential to make a real difference to all those involved. Not only will it help to stimulate existing business practice and provide a new source of income to an otherwise ostracized area, but it will see to the continuation and practice of home industry, farming and centuries old Myanmar cultural tradition. Through regular and professionally led training program, we are also confident that the community will benefit from a better understanding of international service standards and the daily practice of basic health and safety fundamentals.Assuming we are able to stick to schedule, the first phase of the project will be completed first week of February 2017 and our Grand Opening Ceremony is on 18th February 2017. The experience will be offered to any destination management company, tour operator or travel agent, providing they have a genuine interest and can extend long-term support to the project‟s development. After all, we all have a responsibility to protect, promote and sustain the development of community based tourism in Twante Township.

How To Get To CBT Village

Route 1

By car:

From Warden Jetty (Kili), take the Z craft with the car to Dala across the Yangon river. (Z craft departure times: 07:00 or 8:30* / 10:30 / 12:00 / 13:30/ 15:00 /16:00 / 17:00 or 18:30*). The journey will take approximately 20 minutes.
* the time of departure depends on the number of cars
To get to Warden Jetty, take the express Strand Road from Pansodan Road. Shortly after leaving Dala jetty, take the first junction signposted to “Phayarnyogoto”, followed by a second to Phayargyi/Kawmhu. Turn left here and drive for approximately 25 minutes. The CBT Kyaikthalae village can be found en route to Kaw Mhu (approximately 10
minutes drive).

Route 2

By ferry boat:
From downtown’s Pansodan jetty a ferry leaves every 30 minutes to Dala and the crossing time will take approximately 10 minutes.
On arrival into Dala, you can either hire or pre-arrange one to meet you on the other side. You will then take the first junction signposted to “Phayarnyogoto” followed by a second to “Phayargyi and Kawmhu”. Turn left here and drive for approximately 25 minutes. The CBT Kyaikthalae village can be found en route to Kaw Mhu (approximately 10 minutes drive).
NOTE: To avoid getting lost, we would advise you bring a GPS-enabled device. Mingalar Bio Garden can be found located on Google Maps.

Route 3

By car:
Cross Bayintnaung bridge and drive through Hlaingtharyar Industrial Zone, shortly before crossing Pun Hlaing Bridge. Proceed over the Twante canal bridge and continue straight until you reach a junction signposted to “Phayarnyogoto”, followed another to Phayargyi/Kawmhu. Turn left here and drive for approximately 25 minutes. The CBT Kyaikthalae village can be found en route to Kaw Mhu (approximately 10 minutes drive).

NOTE: To avoid getting lost, we would advise you bring a GPS-enabled device. Mingalar Bio Garden can be found located on Google Maps.