Behind the scenes in Myanmar – Chapter 2
The Khiri Travel Myanmar team is giving a behind- the- scenes glimpse on their recent inspections around the country. This new series will be covering the experiences of our team members while exploring some new and some better known destinations.
Find Chapter 1: Overland from Mandalay to Yandabo here
Chapter 2: On the Road to Hpa-An
We left busy Yangon in the early morning at around 6:30 am for our journey to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, also known as Golden Rock, a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site in Mon State. After about a four-and-a half-hour drive we arrived in Kin Pun Sakhan town and boarded a truck to make the 45-minute journey up the mountain to Golden Rock. Nowadays, the steep road is in much better condition and the drivers are careful. We felt very safe, despite the curves and twists on the way to the top. If you prefer, you can get out of the truck at second base camp, known as Ye Thae Taung, and walk the rest of the way up on foot, which takes about an hour.
We spent another hour looking around this amazing shrine and then drove directly to Mawlamyine, the capital on Mon State, and enjoyed a Mon home-cooked dinner with a delicious selection of dishes. From there we headed for our first night to Hotel Queen Jamadevi, a charming bungalow-style retreat surrounded by nature in the Taung Nyo Hills.
The first day of our trip was over!
We woke up early the next morning to the sound of refreshing rain. After our 8.00 am breakfast, we went to explore the morning market and then drove to Win Sein Taw Ya, the world’s largest reclining Buddha. Inside the statue, which is 30 meters in height and 180 meters long, there numerous rooms displaying dioramas of the Jataka tales and Buddhist teachings. There are also many other standing Buddha statues and stupas in the area, as well as 500 statues lining the road leading up to Win Sein Taw Ya.
From Win Sein Taw Ya, we were transferred to a jetty on the Salween River, also called the Thanlwin River, for a boat cruise to Hpa-An, the capital city of Kayin State. On the way, we stopped off at U Nar Auk village, from where we took a tuk-tuk to see the shrines and monasteries built more than a century ago by U Nar Auk, a national figure and wealthy trader in Myanmar’s history, who dared to compete with the British Raj.
We had an unforgettable picnic lunch in the village and then continued our cruise to Hpa-An, but about halfway there, the rain began to come down in torrents. It got so heavy that we had to abandon our cruise and continue to Hpa-An by car. That didn’t bother us though, as we had already been having such an incredible adventure! The approach to Hpa-An is amazingly beautiful with emerald-green paddy fields and soaring limestone karsts. We arrived at Hotel Gabana and had a relaxing evening drinking coffee at the hotel’s charming café. Located in the center of town, the hotel’s rooms were clean and comfortable – really good value for money!
In the morning, we were excited as we got ready to do some kayaking and trekking to Karen villages. We left the hotel at 8.30 am and drove to the Kawkathaung Caves, the starting point of the day. The scenery was amazing, the rolling clouds and stormy weather was like a colourful painting. Now and again the dark clouds would open and sunlight would flood down over the mountain peaks and dark-green forest below.
After lunch we continued on to explore Saddan Cave, the biggest and longest in Kayin State. Later in the afternoon, we did some more kayaking around the cave – surrounded by nature – it was fantastic! At the end of the day we relaxed at the Hpa-An Lodge, a charming boutique hotel.
The last day of our trip, I woke up early to take some photos around the hotel. As I stepped out of the bungalow, the cool breeze touched my face. Sunlight was beginning to dance around the garden. It was perfect weather to capture some nice photos. Suddenly my eyes were glued to the spot where we had left our sandals and shoes the night before. “Where have my sandals gone?” I could find only one of them! It was lucky that I had brought a spare pair with me. After taking photos and eating breakfast, we headed up to the hotel reception. It was here that I found my other sandal, but it had been ripped to shreds! The receptionist explained that it had been found by housekeeping and must have been taken by monkeys. She said that when it rained heavily, the monkeys would come down from the mountains to find shelter. It was therefore better to keep one’s shoes and sandals in the room. I wanted to share this because it was one of the most amusing things to happen on our trip!
Goodbye Zwekabin land!
On the way home we passed a fertilizer factory and pomelo orchards, before stopping off in Bilin town at around 1.30 pm for lunch. We enjoyed a Mon traditional ‘packed-lunch’ – rice with fried chicken wrapped in banana leaves. When you undo the leaves, the rice is still warm with a sweet smell – yummy! After lunch, we continued on to Yangon and arrived there at around 5.00 pm.
Our trip was perfect: full of fun, excitement, experiences and memorable moments. So if you get the chance, skip-out from your peachy life for a while and enjoy some moments with us! We can promise you that your traveling experiences will be some of the best in your life.
Blogged by Pyone Ei Mon , Sales Manager Key Accounts at Khiri Travel Myanmar