Of curious monkeys and monstrous Buddhas

Monywa Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 27 › view all entries
The sun sheds its weak light on freighters on the river we cross by ferry.

We depart at 8 a.m., so we get up at 6.45. I’m not that disappointed that the night is over, because the beds were bad and our room was crawling with mosquitos, the bodycount has risen to at least 20 dead vampires over the night (Trudy is a great Van Helsing when it comes to blood sucking bugs). I’ve slept with all my clothes on (again), because the capacity of the aircon to keep the mosquitos away exceeded the capacity of my paper thin blanket to keep me warm.

Although our room was in a secundary building we have to make our way through the main building, past the reception, to the restaurant. And we thought our rooms were bad! When we walk through the extremely narrow central hallway (one way traffic only!) we accidentally have a look in one of the rooms here, this is worse than Alcatraz!!! Who was complaining about our room? Not me! Compared to this we have spent the night in the Hilton!

To make up for the “so so” night, breakfast is quite nice.

A curious and hungry monkey checks our pick-up for a snack.
All of us get a nice tray, decorated beautifully with all kinds of fruit, accompanied by the standard toast ‘n’ egg. In fact there’s so much fruit that Trudy and I can’t eat it all, therefor I needn’t feel guilty for not eating my egg, which has been fried only briefly, and I don’t feel like getting the Delhi Belly in Burma.

All in all the Shwe Tran Taung Hotel isn’t worth another visit and I don’t regret leaving it behind. It is only a short drive to the ferry that will take us to the pick-ups on the other side of the river. When we reach the river the sun is already struggling to break through the shroud of clouds, but succeeds only every once in a while. At least it has stopped raining...

We shake, rattle and roll in the ancient pick-ups over roads that aren’t even extremely bad, but it’s the wooden benches and the lousy suspension that hurt our buts.

Inside one of the caves of Po Win Daung.
During the ride I almost kill Rudolf by telling my joke about rhyming and poems which, unfortunately is impossible to translate to English.

The Po Win Daung caves are at the end of our 45 minute drive, and none of us has seen the copper mine that we were told to look for on the way here. We have barely left the pick-up alone and there’s a monkey checking it out for edibles. The complex consists of a vast number of man-made shallow caves that house images of the Buddha, the occasional nat, and some of them have lovely murals as well. At the entrance of every cave we have to take our shoes off and every time it is a matter of hoping and praying that they will still be there when we come back out again, this place is teeming with monkeys that aren’t shy at all (one of them leaps up and sits on Willem’s shoulder without hesitation). Trudy and I take our time, dangling at the very end of our group, so I can take pictures with no one standing in my way.

This is Po Win Daungs most beautiful cave.
We are constantly followed by girls showing us the way, guarding our shoes and trying to sell us postcards. The quality and beauty of the artwork in the caves differs, but all in all I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. When standing in certain places in the complex, looking at it at a certain angle, it makes me think of King Louie’s palace in Jungle Book.

On our way back to the ferry we do spot the copper mine in the distance, but it wouldn’t have been a drama if we had missed it again, there’s nothing much to see , really.

Back on the main land we have lunch in the restaurant of the Monywa Hotel, and according to our guide the food is very good here. It turns out she hasn’t said a word too much. Fingerlicking good!

Now we have another go at the Thamboddhay complex, there’s no rain and the sky is a bit brighter, so the colours should come out more beautifully.

A colourful building on the Thamboddhay premises.
It’s a quick visit, on the outside only, but it is worth going back. Ad discovers a colony of flying foxes in the woods nearby and Trudy and I go and have a look, too. Trudy has never seen fruit bats this big before and is surprised about the noise they make.

In the neighbourhood of Thamboddhay are the two largest Buddhas of Myanmar, one reclining, the other standing. The standing Buddha is still under construction and the height of the building can be clearly seen from the scaffolding, that looks like a miniature, and the holes in the statue that are really windows on the different floors. The elevators inside are not operational yet and the view is better from a distance, therefor we climb the lookout tower in the Forest of 10,000 Buddhas. Under every tree here sits an image of the Buddha, so far 9,000 are there, the other thousand is a work in progress. This too, is a brief visit, because we want to be back in Mandalay in time to see the sun set on U Bein bridge.

The Forest of 10,000 Buddhas.
When allmost all of us are in the bus again, Trudy dashes off with our camera to take some pictures of some statues she saw when we arrived. Knowing that the bus won’t leave without her, I still feel a bit uncomfortable about her being gone, but a few minutes later she enters the bus with a smile on her face, panting from the sprinting effort.

There is only one more short stop when our driver spots an initiation ceremony for little children that are about to be monks. It is a scene with bright coloured clothes, loud music and of course food. We are invited to stay and have dinner (the 20 of us!!), but we decline politely and retreat to the bus, leaving the people to their own. Some of the kids are so beautifully dressed that it is hard to leave them behind...

On the last stretch to Mandalay Mick says that she would really like to see a nunnery and since there is one not too far from our planned route we please her by making the small detour.

The largest Buddha images in Myanmar. The black dots on the standing one are windows.
It’s a flash visit and Trudy and I think of it as an embarrassing display, it’s like looking at monkeys in a zoo and it is obvious that the nuns are being polite, but at the same time very uncomfortable about this situation.

Fifteen minutes before sunset we get off the bus at U Bein bridge, the longest teak pedestrian bridge in Myanmar. When the sun goes down behind the bridge and the sky turns dark orange, the pedestrians and monks on the bridge are nothing more than black silhouettes. A magnificent sight that lasts far too short. Mesmerized by this fantastic scene we fall in love with a painting in one of the stalls near the bridge, but the salesman demands over $150 for it and we think this is rather steep. It’s been a long day and I don’t feel like haggeling, so we get on the bus and drive the last eleven kilometres back to the hotel in the dark of night.

Back in the hotel Aart-Jan is waiting for us with a huge smile on his face, relieved of his tooth ache he is ready for the rest of the trip.

These kids were present at the initiation ceremony for young children that would become monks.

We go to Mann’s restaurant again for dinner, where we join Ad, Wim and Evert. Once again a tasty and cheap meal. We cross the street for some ice creams at Nylon’s where, again, the entire staff are staring at the tv, oblivious to any customers whatsoever.

In our hotel room we end the day with a honey wine we bought somewhere along the road the day before yesterday. We had hoped that it would taste something like the German honey wine called Met (or mede in English), but it is not even close.

Our shower is cold as ice, but the blankets are thick and warm enough now, so sleep comes easily.

Sunset at U Bein bridge, the longest teak pedestrian bridge in Myanmar.

globalodyssey says:
wonderfully told tale
very enjoyable
i will be there in 2 weeks...any suggestions?
Posted on: Dec 20, 2009
glennisnz says:
Another great day, I just love that UBein Bridge photo!
Posted on: Oct 31, 2008
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The sun sheds its weak light on fr…
The sun sheds its weak light on f…
A curious and hungry monkey checks…
A curious and hungry monkey check…
Inside one of the caves of Po Win …
Inside one of the caves of Po Win…
This is Po Win Daungs most beautif…
This is Po Win Daungs most beauti…
A colourful building on the Thambo…
A colourful building on the Thamb…
The Forest of 10,000 Buddhas.
The Forest of 10,000 Buddhas.
The largest Buddha images in Myanm…
The largest Buddha images in Myan…
These kids were present at the ini…
These kids were present at the in…
Sunset at U Bein bridge, the longe…
Sunset at U Bein bridge, the long…
An image we havent come across so…
An image we haven't come across s…
Sunset at U Bein bridge.
Sunset at U Bein bridge.
What are you lookin at??
What are you lookin' at??
Flying foxes waiting for the night…
Flying foxes waiting for the nigh…
Monywa
photo by: TrudyNRonnie