Travel Journal

Mawlamyine, Hpa-An and Ngwe Saung beach (Myanmar)

(Tuesday 17 April 2012) by Lynda
I want to travel south, but the deep south of Myanmar is still off limits for foreigners, so I settle for the
Nwa-la-bo Pagoda
Nwa-la-bo Pagoda
south-east, Mawlamyine (Moulmein), once the capital of British Burma. It took me 10 hot and bumpy hours on the train to get there. The train probably a relic from the glory days of the British Empire. Mawlamyine is a sleepy town with a ridge of stupa-capped hills. I visited one of the hills to see Nwa-la-bo Pagoda. Getting to the top was similar to the trip to Kyaiktiyo, again a truck with wooden beams in the back, filled to the brim with pilgrims, racing up the mountain like a bizarre roller coaster. The pagoda consists of three gold boulders pilled precariously atop one another and surmounted by a stupa. The result would fit nicely in the Tolkien fairytale world of Middle Earth. Being there with the worshippers, gazing at the boulders, burning a candle for good luck and enjoying the scenery, it feels so good to be here.

Countryside around Hpa-An with Mt Zwegabin
Countryside around Hpa-An with Mt Zwegabin
From Mawlamyine I cross into the Kayin State where only a few places are open now for foreigners. Hpa-An, the regional capital has an energetic and vibrant atmosphere and the surrounding countryside with limestone escarpments is postcard perfect. I visited Kawgun cave with tiny clay Buddhas and carvings plastered all over the walls and roof of the open cavern, and Yathaypyan Cave. After the caves we drive through the paddy fields, Mount Zwegabin in the background until we stop at a lake. In the middle of the lake the most unlikely sight - Kyauk Kalap, a tall finger of sheer rock mounted by the most unlikely pagoda of Myanmar. What an amazing place this is and I'm so glad I made it here. The sights are incredible but the best of all is just passing through little Karen villages in the back of a tuk-tuk while children run out the the wooden huts simply to wave at you and say hello, so welcoming and warm. The
Kyauk Kalap
Kyauk Kalap
people of Myanmar are wonderful and the real gems of this beautiful country.

After all the sightseeing I want to wash off the red dust and try to soak my feet clean....time to hit the beach. Ngapali beach is way over budget so I take the bus to Ngwe Saung beach. A long stretch of white sand lined with palms, the perfect place for my last days in Myanmar, the perfect place to say goodbye.

Walking on the beach at night, the wind playing with my hair, the waves at my feet and Ordinary World of DuranDuran on my earphones, a sad and happy song at the same time. I know my life has been on hold for the last year, holding on to old dreams, too afraid to let go. Fear is a mindkiller and this trip is about overcoming fear so it's time now to say goodbye. I kiss my old dreams goodbye and let them float away on the waves.

I'm going home, Asia has given me what I needed so now it's time to go back and unpack my life from the Shurguard where I left it months ago. Time for new dreams and time for new music, I put on Heavy Cross, Gossip and dance on the beach.

This is me and this is my life!

Travellyn is going home....although.....a little stop-over would be nice.......Sri Lanka....!!!!

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