Since the last entry we have began our move to the north of Myanmar, albeit at a snails pace. We left Dawei on a high and entered Mawlamyine, in the Mon state. Home to George Orwell in 1922. We arrived at 430 in the morning, half dead from the battering (not literally, the roads really are bumpy) we took on the bus the night before.
We couldn't check in until 10 so we had to, very uncomfortably, sleep in the lounge. Not being able to sleep me, Charlie and a Canadian woman Coleen, decided a coffee and some breakfast were necessary.
Later that day and well rested, we decided some physical activity was probably best if we going to keep the pounds off from all the food we've been stuffing. The guys who run the hotel, Mr Toni (Mr T to me and Charlie) Mr Kline and Mr Ling were all very helpful and also very insightful. Mr Ling, one of the 100 disciples of the flying monks, enlightened us on Buddhism and told us of these deities. He explained that they lived in a location in the forest unknown to anyone. 1 was 236, another 207 and the third was 136. Unbelievable as it may sound, it made for an interesting story and gave us a small insight into his spiritual world.
After a cycle around we made our way up the kyaikthanlan Pagoda to watch the sunset, apparently the best in the city, And it did not disappoint.
The next day feeling refreshed, Charlie and I decided it was a day for not doing a lot, because this travelling stuff is hard work.....(que flabbergasted expression from those of you currently at work).
So shopping and reading were on the agenda for us that day. At the hostel that night we had a sociable evening, and no sociable evening is complete without some Myanmar whiskey at 75p for half a litre. Mr T took a bit of a liking to Charlie and I and gave us a sweet little necklace he made out of rubber bands. We obviously wore them until we went to bed to show our appreciation, but quickly shoved them to the bottom of our bags when we were out of sight.
The next morning we left for hpa-an (pronounced pan).
Now, I feel I have to write a small section on the story of my Dr Martens. I left them at a hotel in Dawei (obviously). My efforts to try and get them back were proving difficult and thus far unsuccessful. Anyway long story short we got someone to put them on a bus from Dawei to mawlamyine. So nobody panic I still have the Dr marten sandals. You can all sleep easy.
The bus to Hpa-an was only two hours. With some beautiful scenery on the way. We drove parallel to the river and over us hung huge limestone cliffs. We checked into soe brothers hotel. with our friend Alex out of action with a bug, Charlie and I got bikes out again (not a patch on Ching, my bike at home, might I add) we rode around and found a nice lake, and it's seems it doesn't matter which country your in, you will always find a tacky peddlo. We couldn't resist and got the worst one of the lot. Satisfying our inner child we cycled to the river, where we got a small fisher boat to Mt Hpan Pu. As we walked toward the base of the mountain a girl showed us a short cut. Through some dense vegetation we cleared into a small cave with the obligatory Buddha statues populating it. Our voluntary guide not surprisingly unwilling to take the the walk with us, bid us far well, an left Charlie and I to the hike.
When we made it to the top (at no doubt a time well below average) we relished in victory and couldn't help but think that had we had a selfie stick it really would have made a great picture.
We made it back beside the river just in time for the sun to go down. A sight we will never tire of.
Our second day in Hpa-an and we had booked ourselves on a tour, I guess a sort of montage of all the best bits to see. The first was a huge cave, (obligatory Buddhas included) some very cheeky monkeys taking refuge around the area, and stealing our bottle of water.
The next was a sort of religious area with 1500 Buddha statues situated in the fields. Charlie thought that at this point it was time for lunch, it was 12 after all. Unknowingly, she orders herself a nice portion of spicy noodles. This wasn't where we were eating. With noodles set to take away (a plastic bag), we headed to the place where we actually take lunch. Obviously we ordered food from there as well. We also saw a cockerel have a fight with a cat. That's certainly something you don't see everyday.
Back in the rickety old tuk tuk we head for another cave. As repetitive as this sounds, this cave was beautiful and like no other. With hundreds of thousands of bats sleepily hanging from the cave ceiling. An eerie setting with precarious looking stalagmites and stalactites, also a huge spider clinging to one of the walls, made for an interesting walk. Out through the caves mouth we were greeted with rice fields and a serene lake. We slid into the wooden fishermans boats and glided across the still waters, moving around the rice the fields and ducking under one of the caves to find a fisherman catching his supper. In a state of tranquility, we moved on to our final stop. Another cave. Not just any cave. A bat cave. As the sun was setting we picked our place just outside of the caves mouth, And, like children hearing the dinner bell in the school playground, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of bats came rushing out of the cave. With impeccable timing and astounding accuracy,(not hitting each other, or their audience) they flew into the dusk in search of their food.
I feel that the meal we had that night, with our new friend zoah from Israel , was just too good not to mention. An Indian style lentil soup, rice, mixed veg, tomato Sally and some crazy good pickled radish, with black seasame seeds. Top 3 meal so far we reckon. That night zoah showed us her native tradition of Hanukkah, which was a nice exchange of cultural insight. Feeling very festive we all broke out into Christmas songs. A clash of cultures intertwined over some festive cheer, was a great end to the day.
Morning broke for our last day in Hpa-an. Breakfast, which actually consisted of some real coffee. s*** coffee, but nonetheless not a 3 in 1. We decided to head to the cave which you can swim in. Not thinking about the cultural indifference we all packed bikinis and were set for a day frolicking in the water. This was a bit of an over sight for us girls as we have to Be fully clothes. Being sure not to entice the men, and monks? which nobody particularly wanted to do, so we just spent the day drinking beer and eating of course. After a few hours we hitchhiked back to our hostel. Just in time for us to catch our forwarding bus to Yangon, that would lead us to the wild Wild West.
Ellouise wood Told you you would get those shoes back, nobody else wants them! X
sanj Oh no - I thought finally we had seen the last of the worlds ugliest shoes!!! They probably thought that where you left them that's why they sent them on!! X