Dawei which the British called Tavoy, is about 30 miles (48km) from the mouth of the Dawei River on the coast of Tanintharyi (Tenessarim) Division. It is one of the oldest ports in Myanmar and was mentioned by the merchant traveller Ralph Fitch, who in 1583 became the first Englishman to set foot on Myanmar soil. Dawei is a prosperous town, with many of the richest families owning fleets of fishing vessels or rubber plantations. As is usual with the typical and conservative Myanmar use of wealth, it is not apparent to the casual eye. It is a quiet, peaceful little town.
Myeik (Mergui) is between the sea and low hills with pagodas, monasteries and government buildings. It is busy port town and center for the fishing, pearl, rice preserved and dried fish, birds’ nests and rubber industries. There is a flourishing culture pearl industry but for centuries Myeik pearls have been on par with rubies in value and attraction, much sought after by the Myanmar royalty and the aristocracy. These natural pearls were harvested by the Salon or Moken people, who are some times referred to as sea gypsies.
Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago
Off Myanmar’s south-eastern coast, the Myeik Archipelago, with its 800 islands, is a world – class diving destination, with beautiful coral reefs and a rich variety of marine life. Many of the islands in the 14,000 square-mile 936,260 sq km) area are uninhabited. The human inhabitants of the region include the Salon or Moken sea gypsy people, Lampi, one of the main islands, has been designated the Lampi National Park and is listed as an ASEAN Heritage Site. Diving and sight-seeing trips in the aechipelago leave from Kawthaung, at the far south of Tanintharyi Division. The Mergui Archipelago is an archipelago of the western shore of the Malay Peninsula in far southern Myanmar. It consists of more than 800 islands, varying in size from very small to hundreds of square kilometers. The local are an ethnic minority called the Moken, sometimes known as sea gypsies, although this term actually covers several groups in Southeast Asia. They are a sea-dwelling people and they follow a traditional way of life, doing things such as fishing and building boats very much the way they have been done for centuries. They can be found living on their traditional boats during the dry season, but usually keep to land in the rainy season.Owning to the archipelago’s remoteness, a live board cruise is the only way for visitors to reach diving areas with names such as Big Bank, Rainbow Reef or Silvertip Bank. The best diving conditions exist from December to April, with whale sharks and manta rays visiting from February to May.
The Salon Sea Gypsies
Also known as the Moken, they live among the hundreds of islands of the Myeik Archipelago. They are perhaps the earliest environmentalists who still remain so, far they only gather by hand what they need from the sea and do not even use nets to fish. They believe in keeping a balance between man and nature and in man with man: for if anyone among their dwindling group was to become ambitious it would destroy the equilibrium and peace of their community. They live on boats they prefer a life of freedom rather than being rooted to the land. They carry only a few possessions on their boats, such as cooking utensils, clothing and a few tools, such as spear for catching fish. During the stormy Monsoon season they build temporary houses of bamboo, and plant enough vegetables for their own use. After the monsoon they resume living aboard boats and anyone is free to occupy their houses. The Salon have no greed for property. They gather what they eat or sell from the sea, such as sea cucumbers and shellfish. They are hardy people and both men and women can dive without modern breathing apparatus to search for natural pearls. Pearls from the Myeik Archipelago have been famed for centuries for their amazing sizes and luster. Most, if not all, were collected by Salon divers, though none wanted to keep them. Riches such as pearls could harm their harmonious culture and that is what they most value.
At the southernmost tip of the country is BayintNaung Point, known during colonial times as Victoria point. The adjoining sea port of Kawthaung is opposite the Thai town of Ranong. Kawthaung is a busy trade but what attracts most visitors to the area are its beautiful islands, some of the 800 that comprise Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago. These uninhabited and thickly-forested islands lie like gems on the crystal clear waters, ringed with white sand beaches. The sea is so clear that from a boat you can see spectacular arrays of coral and many varieties sea life. Apart from kayaking, fishing, scuba and deep-sea diving, there are fishing villages to explore and Salon people.
Program 1) : Yangon – Kawthaung – Myeik – Thahtaykyone ( 7 Days / 6 Nights )
Program 2) : Yangon – Myaik – Mergui Archipelago Trip ( 7 Days / 6 Nights )