Mawlaik is a close-knit village in the township of Mawlaik which has only 100,000 inhabitants.
Mawlaik is a town in Mawlaik District, Sagaing Region in north-west Myanmar, along the Chindwin River.
Mawlaik is located at the top of a steep sandstone bank. Given the bridge to Mawlaik from Kalewa was severed by monsoon rains and earthquakes and the road to Homalin is almost a two day ride away, most people reach Mawlaik by boat. When traveling to remote areas, it helps to visualize the arrival point. During the monsoon, the Chindwin River swells, flooding launching areas that are inaccessible during the dry season.
It was the center for British teak logging in the 20th century. After the British left, the people continued to work in the teak industry. They implemented many of the British forestry practices. Locals work in the lumber mill across the river. They drive the river rafts that transport logs weighing up to 300 tonnes downstream. In addition to teak logging, villagers from neighboring settlements work the land and bring their goods to the local market in Mawlaik.
Life is simple in Mawlaik. Homes are usually made of wood with open-air windows. Most walk or ride bicycles. In each village, the locals support the Buddhist monks. Every morning, the monks walk from house to house with their eating utensils in hand, knowing locals will fill their bowls. Some monks push carts throughout town, collecting from restaurants and businesses, to feed those that cannot go out on their own.
There are a few guesthouses for travelers, usually filled with geologists exploring the land for oil and minerals.
With all the unexplored wilderness and resources Myanmar has to offer, there’s no doubt that the villages along the Chindwin will host more and more tourists in the future.