9th MAy 2005 -SITTWE!
A tower-clock builded in the 18th Century …during the British ruling. Why do Bristish like to build clock wherever they landed?
It was a 8 hours journey ride by ferry from Toungup to Sittwe. Around 4pm we reached Sittwe Jetty and by 4.30pm, we checked into Noble Hotel. The only hotel there with electricity back-up generator. Cool!
Our first concern was to confirm the river route to explore and two air-tickets back to Yangon on Friday 13th May (9th was a Monday). The ticket problem back at Yangon when we first arrived has taught us a lesson…we had better maked sure we can get back on time. Hence, we would have 3 full days in Sittwe to complete our mission.
We spoke to the owner of the hotel – Mr. Aung Nai Win. He said he can HELP. We got the right person. He is the President of the fishery association there. What a blessing! However, we could only know the answer later in the evening. Over there, there were no such things a s instance answer or confirmation on any requests. The effeciency of communication and work system there were very low. It was antagonising as we were rushing for time and eagered to start working on our mission.
He needed to ask a runner to take transport to search for the boatman and the “ticket specialist”. There were no public telephone…no home telephone and definetly no handphone. Having a telephone line was a luxury. There were only a few desinated point where one can make a phone call. If you were not living near to one, you would need to walk a long distance to get connected to the outside world. It was another way of life there.
We decided to go for our dinner at 6.00pm plus. Above was the scence along the way to the nice restaurant below. I was delighted to have found this cosy restaurant in Sittwe…a comfort after a lond day ride on the ferry.
We returned to the hotel at 7.00pm plus. Finally, we got confirmation on renting a boat to explore the rivers there. US$550 for a whole day trip…with two boatmans.
We managed to get hold of two one-way tickets back to Yangon. It was during this meeting that I realized why we couldn’t buy a ticket from Yangon to Sittwe even though the flight could not have been full. You see…both Ling and I were very ignorant/innocent …The ticket officer/ticket agent would only sell tickets to those who would “appreciate” their work. Our ticket cost was US$68.00 each and the “appreciation” fee was US$48.00 each. Back in Yangon, we didn’t know about this unspoken manner. ..They won’t volunteered to teach you too…
After the meeting, we went to visit a couple of local aquarium shops there. They were home based kind of shop. We hope to gain some local information on the arowana …if any. After the vistaition, I was very worried. We went back to hotel at 9.30 pm to rest.
10th May 2005 – An exciting day!
Finally, the time of action has arrived!
For easy reference, I have sketched the time-movement map on my note book. This was what Singapore Army has trained us to do…operation planning. We need to get back to Sittwe before last light. It was dangerous to travel on the river at night.
We needed to cover both Kaladan river and Laymyo river. The check points were Ponnagyun township and Kyauktaw township for Kalandan river; Pauktaw township and Myaungbwe township for Laymyo river.
This was supposed to be a “scouting” trip. The plan was to cover/explore as much area as we could to find out where exactly…which river…which stream the elusive snakeskin arowana actually live in. So that we could send artillary firing and troop to overrun the objective in our next final mission of netting enough snakeskin arowana.
Movement to Jetty…we passed by the Rakhinw State Cultural Musuem.
…. Maung Maung Khine (Sunglass man) and Maung Maung Saw (front). Thye knew the rivers… we were in safe hands.
….me….the hat and slipper I were wearing were bought in Yangon. Very comfortable.
Ponnagyun Township from afar…our first check point. It was located at the mouth of Kaladan river.
The Ponnagyun villages. Mostly illegal immigrants from Blangedesh and mostly 2nd to 3rd generation living there. We did ask the villages if they have seen the arowana before. The answer was negative. “Maybe arowana don’t live so near to the mouth of river…not in blackish water”…I said to myself. Just being positive? We proceeded to our next check point.
The children were curious about us. Visitors like us were rare.
What really caught my eyes were these colourful sails made from clothes. The middle one with different colour clothes patched together reminded me of the blanket which my mom sewed for me when I was young.
9.45am…You won’t believe it! At Ghuat stream…somewhere near to Kyauktaw township, we met 2 fishermans at Ghuat stream and they confirmed they have ate the arowana before!!! Wow! This was really a great news …but still, I took it with a pinch of salt. Can I trust the information after so many negative feedbacks from the other villages there? Yes…we needed more confirmation on this….
We ate our lunch at Kyautaw township. of course…we seized every opportunity to enquire about the arowana..negative result.
After lunch, we proceeded to explore Laymyo river. We need to back-track ( appro. 1 hr ride) to Pari stream which was a connecting stream between the two rivers. This stream was known only to the local there as it was too small to be indicated on the official map.
We got lost in Pari stream as there were many turns and split streams. The time was running out.
Along the Pari stream Maung Maung Khine was showing the fisherman Ling’s wallet which have the picture of snakeskin arowana which was cut from an arowana magazine. We have bought it along so to enable visual confirmation from the local people there.
At last, we hit a landmark. A tourist destination – Mrauk-U township…popular for its temples..pagoda. Mrauk-U township was near to Laymyo river. But it was already late. We have to make a decision at this point. We decided to be safe and head back to Sittwe. Hence, we did not visit Pauktaw township and Myaungbwe township. I was sadden by this decision as mission was deemed as failed.
We reached Noble hotel at about 6.45pm. We went for dinner after shower. Over the dinner, Ling told me that he overheard Maung Maung Khine’s cousin ( I didn’t get to see this guy) telling the owner of the hotel that two Japanese came to Sittwe one years ago and caught 40 pieces of arowana and went back secretly. After the dinner, I went to confirm with Aung Nai Wing on the truth about the two Japanese. They couldn’t give me a definite answer.
I was in a dilema. To stay longer to catch the arowana or ….???? After much consideration, I decided to drop the idea of staying longer. I was thinking that I should be more prepared if I would to visit Sittwe again in near future… with Yamazaki San.
But again, there was a confirmation from the two fishermans that there was indeed arowana in the Ghaut stream? How? I am not happy going back with empty handed. I didn’t come so far to just give up my hope based on one day trip result.
I went to sleep with a rock in my heart.
11th May 2005
I woke up very early in the morning. I called Hwee Boon …my business partner…whether I should stay further to catch the arowana. He was supportive…as usual. I couldn’t recall what he told me exactly but something like …I am already there and…don’t waste it. That was it…just what I needed to hear. My heart was strengthen!
SO WHAT NEXT??? I will share with you more in my next final blog on Wild Arowana Hunting!
1515 8th Apr 2013