Introduction to Dome Nyaung Mai
Dome Nyaung Mai is located in Dome Island, Kyunsu Township and it is 48 miles away from Myeik harbor, Southern Myanmar. You will go by speedboat from Myeik's seik Nge Jetty to the village for about 2 hours. The village is surrounded by the most beautiful beaches, mangrove forests, mountains and islands. The residents are ethnic groups of Moken, Karen and Burmese.
Moken are also known as sea gypsies of Austronesian origin (Salon is Burmese name for the sea gypsies) and the smallest enthnic group in Myanmar. They often migrate in the sea water of Mergui Archipelago and they usually live on traditional boats, which they call Kabang. Kabang is a Moken traditional boat which is made of wood with palm thatch roof and Moken people are born, lived and died on their boat. According to weather conditions like the rainy monsoons season, they can be seen in the Moken village of Dome Naung Mai and some other islands. During your Dome Nyaung Mai village, you can visit the Mergui Archipelago of Dome waterfall, Smart island, Bailey island, Thamee Hla island and Harris island. Dome island Community Based Tourism (CBT) was implemented in 2020 to enhance local people's life and sustainability of ethnic culture through tourism.
Livelihood of Dome Nyaung Mai
The population of the village is about 700 and local lifestyles are different. The occupation of Karen ethnic is a worker in the plantations of betel and dried betel nuts in the village while the Burmese group work as fishermen. They catch fish with a fishing cage and make dried fish for consumption and supply. “The professional work of the sea gypsy is diving, searching and harvesting pearls. They are famous for their fast swimming skills and can go deeper than 20 meters without an oxygen tank.” Sea gypsies catch fish by palisade from their Kabang. Some researchers noticed that children of Moken can see with total clarity, like dolphins in the sea water due to staying underwater for a long time. Moken can be seen as one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer populations in Southeast Asia.
What Can You Explore in Nyaung Mai Village?
Dome Nyaung Mai village is firstly island based community based tourism (CBT) in Myeik archipelago, Myanmar. Its aim is to allow tourists to stay overnight at the island by experiencing local lifestyle and visit amazing dome waterfall, islands and beautiful beaches easily, increase local secondary income according to tourism and protect and love for our environment. In this article, I will mention some activities that you can enjoy in this place.
Village Tour of Walking and Bicycling
The village is surrounded by beautiful scenery and you can walk along the long sandy beach. It is a fishery village but you don’t get pungent smells and you can feel the fresh air breeze. And then, you can go cycling to a sightseeing village and you can meet sea gypsy people and experience the daily routine of their life. You can also watch how to dry betel nuts and can talk with the Karen ethnic group. Different cultures and lifestyles of ethnic groups, you can delight these in one place.
Water Sport Activities
The CBT building is located between a white sand beach and mangrove forest. You can kayak behind CBT buildings along mangrove forest during high tide. Mangrove trees can be grown along the coastline which support sustainable coastal protection and marine fish. Mangrove forests protect the land against bad weather conditions like tsunamis. Then, you can go swimming and diving in the crystal clean water. You can also have fun playing soccer along the long beach.
Nowadays, villagers are using modern techniques of fishing cages and fishing boats. However, you can see two kinds of boats: the Kabang and Jabang of Moken people in the village. The Kabang boat is bigger than the Jabang boat and these are used when sea gypsies go to the sea for catching fish. Having a Kabang boat for a man of the sea gypsy that is able to take wife through their marriage law. Moken women drive a fishing boat while their husband catches the fish. In the Kabang boat, they stay as a home, they eat and sleep on board. The locals are mostly looking for marine fishes and squids. If you want to get an experience of the fishing process, you can hire another boat and you can go with them to witness it.
Maintaining Fishing boat
Fishermen or villagers maintain their fishing boats or Kabang by heating every 2 months. The boat is placed onto the shore and fishermen scrape the body of the boat with coconut shells to remove snail's shells and lichen. And then, they put leaf, rods and dry leaf around the boat and heat the fishing boats with fire. The process of heating with fire takes about 1 hours and 30 minutes. This process is performed by locals during low tide in dry and cold seasons. Maintaining a fishing boat by heating does not delay in driving the boat when they catch the fish and squid.
Dome Nyaung Mai village has three ethnic groups and their festivals are likewise different. From March to May, the Moken community celebrates a Ghost Festival which is a homage festival for calling dead ancestors people with a shaman. Celebration times are different in the several villages in Mergui archipelago. At that time, Moken people sing and dance by tapping the pan and pot. They prepare some gifts for their ancestors which are soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, popcorn, animal sacrifices and blood of animals. In December or January, you can celebrate with the Karen New Year festival. Burmese community had a festival in every month of the Myanmar Calendar before Covid 19 period. After Covid 19, locals celebrated by staying at home and social distancing methods in almost all festivals. If you visit a village at that time, you can participate in ethnic festivals.
Dome Nyaung Mai village has three CBT buildings for overnight stays. The CBT tour operator will provide some services for purified water, soft drinks, juice, fresh seafood and vegetables in an itinerary for lunch and dinner. The accommodations of CBT can host 16 people and it is also suitable to chill with your friends and family. In the evening, you can watch Karen traditional dance performed by local people. At the CBT buildings, you can relax, enjoy the sunrise and sunset views of the Andaman sea, mountains, mangrove forests and also play water sport activities.
You can explore island hopping by speedboat for a day trip. Nyaung Mai village has easy access to go around various islands within a few hours. The nearest places are Smart island which has a world amazing pebble beach and Dome waterfall (which is fresh water from the mountain to the ocean). You can enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, diving, trekking, relaxing and swimming at these places. Then, you can continuously go to other famous islands and beautiful beaches as a one day trip.
In Dome Nyaung Mai, Different enthnic groups live together. You can experience the local people's lifestyles and cultures by visiting this place. So, you should not miss to visit Dome Naung Mai in Myeik city by experiencing Community Based Tourism to promote local life and the unique culture of Moken.
Special thanks to Tourism Mergui Archipelago for explaining about Dome Nyaung Mai CBT, sharing knowledge and permission to use photos.