Kakku, the forest of pagodas
Nyaung Shwe Travel Blog› entry 12 of 27 › view all entries
We sleep late today, our alarm clock doesnâ€™t ring before 7 a.m. During breakfast Aart-Jan says that he wonâ€™t be coming along on our excursion to Kakku today, because he has to find a cure for his sore tooth. To do this he must go back to Yangon, or maybe even to Holland. Aart-Jan definitely wants to save the bridge the sore molar is in and the Burmese rural solution to kill the pain will probably be pulling everything that causes trouble, while a rootcanal treatment will most likely suffice.
So we will be going to Kakku with a small group of eight people, divided over two taxis, the rest of our party are not interested.
Our guide is a Pao girl who speaks English very well (to Asian standards) and is dressed in the regional attire; orange turban, black shirt and skirt, with leg warmers underneath.
Our visit to â€śThe forest of pagodasâ€ť is planned to take one hour and fifteen minutes, this is certainly not too long, considering that nobody knows where to start and where to look. Thereâ€™s so much to see. Fortunately our friendly guide leads the way and shows us all the important spots. The pagodas are somewhere between 200 and 500 years of age and the spot where the complex was to be built was determined in the traditional fashion: a holy white elephant was set loose, carrying the sacred Buddhist texts with him, and where the animal lay down to rest the temples would arrise. According to legend the name Kakku derives from the Pao word Wakku, meaning: With help of the pig. The relics that are kept in the main stupa are supposed to be found by a pig that was rooting. Therefor a guilded statue of a wild boar can be found on the premises.
We have lunch in the restaurant opposite the complex, this is the only establisment in the neighbourhood and the food is of mediocre quality.
On the way back the cars hold together and we stop only once to make a short walk in a Pao village, where we see people make binding strips out of bamboo on the side of the road.
Now we drive straight through to Taunggyi, where half of us want to pay a visit to the Shan Museum. It will be a short visit though, because Susu (thatâ€™s our guideâ€™s name) thinks that the museum closes at 4 p.m. and we donâ€™t get there before 3.30. The museum actually closes at the time we arrive and that the museum is being refurbished and only two halls are open to the public. The staff are willing to let us in for a short while, but we decide to move on. To â€śprovide us with some cultural backgroundâ€ť and to make up for the disappointing museum, Susu shows us how she puts on her turban (several people have asked her this during the day).
We take Susu back to her office in the centre of the town and then drive to the Aytaya Wine Estate, where a tasting of three different wines costs only $1, while having a wonderful view on the well maintained vineyards. The tasting is a rather humorous event, because the ones that are more into wines than myself start giving creative descriptions of the winesâ€™ tastes. For example, one of the wines has a dry fruity taste with a hint of cat pee. All I can say is that I am still not much of a wine lover. We can have a look in the winery as well, but we get no information on the production process, whatsoever, so we are back out again in no time. Near the exit, ladies are washing the wine bottles by hand, Iâ€™m not sure this is up to European standards.
There is one more thing to visit in Taunggyi, a copy of a pagoda in Bagan, that was built in 1996. Because we will be visiting Bagan later on in our journey we skip the copy and drive back to Nyaungshwe where we arrive at five thirty in the afternoon. On the ride back we pass several army bases and we see another one of the huge red billboards with a propaganda slogan that was something like: â€śThe people of Myanmar and the Tatmadaw (the Burmese army) must join forces and crush the common enemy in name of the unionâ€ť. In other words: do as we say and tell us if you know anyone who does otherwise.
Back in our current home town we go out to change some money.
For dinner we go back to Sun Rise restaurant again, momentarily they are suffering from a power outage and everything is lit by candles and oil lamps. Romantic. Trudy has the Grilled Fish Inle Style and the smile on her face tells me that it tastes fantastic, the fish is so big however that she can hardly manage emptying her plate. The amount on the bill is 8300 Kyats, including two meals and some drinks. Accidentally I pay 1000 Kyats too much, the waiter returns as soon as he finds out, bringing me back my money, telling me I have made a mistake. Tipping isnâ€™t usual in Myanmar, but we like these people so much that we would like to give them something anyway. I tell the waiter that we want to reward his honesty and therefor he can keep the change, which is 700 Kyats. Upon hearing this news the waiterâ€™s wife (and cook of the restaurant) comes out to thank us as well and we are afraid that they wonâ€™t let us leave at all anymore. With a very good feeling we stroll back to the hotel, where we have a nice shower. While Iâ€™m in the shower the power fails again, leaving me tapping around to find my towel. We call it an early night and Iâ€™m hoping I can sleep off the last remains of the cold of which Iâ€™ve been recovering for the last days.