Falling in Love with Dawei

This photo essay shed lights on Dawei’s charm and cultural prosperity. The stories are based on personal impression of Dawei during the youth trip with Thai Volunteers Service Association whereby the trip is centered around the strength of community in protecting their natural resources, tourism potential and development and the embarking of development projects which may change the charm of Dawei inevitably.

Dawei is the capital of Thanintharyi region, the southern most part of Myanmar.  Dawei weather is tropical in nature and the rain is almost constant throughout the year. In Thai’s way of reading those kind of weather, we may call them “Fhon Pad Dad See” which means there may be only two seasons over the year- hot summer wind and rainy season.

Dawei people are Tavoyan, is an ethnic group in Myanmar. In addition, Mon people live in the north of the city next to the Mon State. The Karen people live along the Tanaosri mountain range and the ‘Chalon’ ethnic group lived on the shore and in the Andaman Sea.

Dawei is a major port on the Andaman coast. Dawei city is going to be developed including a deep sea port and a special economic zone. Thai investors keep an eye on investing in Dawei as it is seen as one of the most important trade routes to expand access to resources and expanding base for production. It is going to be the main transportation route connecting Thailand to Burma. With this huge benefits seen by the government, business sector and some media, it leaves implications to the potential changes and transformation of people’s livelihoods, traditions and cultures of the Dawei communities especially access to natural resources such as fisheries.

Dawei is soon to be hosting mega projects such as petrochemical, oil refineries and food processing factories. Although the development projects may result in large revenues generated which contributed to the economic growth of the region and greater incomes for the Dawei people, however, the consequential environmental and social impacts are of concerned.

In this photo essay, we shed lights on the socio-economic implications of Dawei SEZ, local livelihoods and cultural changes caused by the development projects. Dawei will undergo diverse dimensions of transformation as caused by the development project such as SEZ, dam and coal. The change may be inevitable. This myth and uncertainty brings us to observe Dawei closer and gradually falling in love with Dawei, regardless. Love in joining Dawei communities to protect their natural resources- if changes are preferable for the communities if compared to the old Dawei charm, that people have already fallen in love with.

1.Candy shops are seen along the streets of Dawei.


2.A dress called Gar Won (Ka-Won) is worn to celebrate during the night.


3.Toys Store is full of colorful stuff.


4. Old house in Dawei. Most influenced by the colonial era.


5. Traditional house of 150 years old, look from outside like a one room house or studio, actually there are three floors.The only remaining house in the city of Dawei. For later generations to inherit generation to generation.


6. Safe during the war.The villagers took precious things in the pillars to prevent theft.


7. The Corner of Dawei house.


8. Great grandson of Kyaw Yin, the inventor of the first balloon of the city and his story is also included in the textbook of Burmese students as well.


9.‘Fhon Pad Dad See’ is meaning Thai’s impression of alternate raining and summer which has very short winter time or no winter at all. It is tropical weather.The indispensable of Dawei is bright colors umbrella.


10. The products that should be bought are the products that are made from rattan. Whether it is a hat, basket and bag.


11. ‘Thanaka’ starched on the face. The Dawei Identity on the face of Dawei people.


12. If rice is important, Betel nut will not be different.


13. The main source of Myanmar production at every corner of the street. Eat both children and adults.


14.Betel nut store at Fish market in early morning.


15. Fish market is called ‘Ta-bo-sek’ in the early morning on the beach will see people carrying fish on the head.


16. Fish shaped like butterflies is called ‘Ngarr Pyan’ in burmese .The villagers put the fish around the beach.


17.Mother carries a baby at We Love Dawei festival. This event is held twice a year.


18. Children play with friends.Lunch break outside the school fence while waiting for school in the afternoon.


19. Coastal fishing or folk fishing of locals makes fishing using fishing gear such as hooks or hooks. Folk fishing is a fishery for subsistence, earning food, generating income and creating local jobs.


20.Walking on the Maung Magan beach in the evening is simple family holiday activities. The question arises. If the special economic zone is establish, this is a huge industry. Do lifestyles that rely on these resources change?  Will this simple activity continue?