Of curious monkeys and monstrous Buddhas
Monywa Travel Blog› entry 15 of 27 › view all entries
We depart at 8 a.m., so we get up at 6.45. Iām 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). Iāve 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 āso soā night, breakfast is quite nice.
All in all the Shwe Tran Taung Hotel isnāt worth another visit and I donāt 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 arenāt even extremely bad, but itās the wooden benches and the lousy suspension that hurt our buts.
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 thereās 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 arenāt shy at all (one of them leaps up and sits on Willemās 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.
On our way back to the ferry we do spot the copper mine in the distance, but it wouldnāt have been a drama if we had missed it again, thereās 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 hasnāt said a word too much. Fingerlicking good!
Now we have another go at the Thamboddhay complex, thereās no rain and the sky is a bit brighter, so the colours should come out more beautifully.
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.
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.
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. Itās been a long day and I donāt 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.
We go to Mannās 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 Nylonās 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.