We are back for part 2 of this post about some fascinating Buddhist places in Myanmar.
In part 1 of this post I have written about Buddhist places that are fairly unknown. Of course I could easily have talked about the world-famous Bagan, the majestic Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, the 116mtr (424ft) high Buddha statue in Monywa, and many more places. But I decided to show you some smaller and lesser known places. Places you might not immediately expect on a Myanmar bucket list, but where our family just had a fabulous time.
So after part 1 with the cute Nunney school and historic Monastery in Nyaung Shwe, there is one more place left to mention. Let me take you to the mountain village of Kalaw, a former British hill station 2 hours from Inle Lake. Here we go!
3. Kalaw – Thein Taung Hpaya Monastery
Two hours drive from Inle Lake you find the small mountain village of Kalaw. For many travelers Kalaw is the starting point of a hiking trip all the way down to Inle Lake. For us it was merely a relaxing three days walking around town and enjoying the cool weather after the sweltering heat of the Bagan plains.
In the village of Kalaw there is not really much to do (and maybe that’s the charm of it!). Hanging around at the main intersection, trying some of the local delicacies being prepared for you on the street, having a drink and watch people passing by on their way to the market. This can be so relaxing!
But there is one place in Kalaw that you should really visit: the Thein Taung Phaya monastery.
First of all: how to get there? From the main Pyi Taung Su Road, north of the main market, take the steps uphill to Thein Taung Hpaya. It’s a steep climb but definitely worth the effort! The place offers great views of Kalaw and its surrounding hills. But there is more.
On top of the hill there is a modest monastery housing some friendly monks. We arrived during one of their chanting sessions. After spending minutes watching the monks through the windows, we were allowed to enter the main meditation hall and watch them from close-by. Great stuff!
Outside again we got in conversation with the leader of the monastery: a friendly monk who invited us to go further uphill to visit his house…how cool is that!
Further and further we went. We walked for 20 minutes and where the monk talked extensively about his life and the history of the monastery. Luckily we had nowhere to go that day so we followed the monk without any hesitation. We were curious where this trip would bring us!
We arrived at his little house where he offered us tea and bananas (his last ones actually). Inside he showed us where he prays couple of times day: sitting inside a mosquito net he makes sure not to get disturbed by annoying insects!
This visit was again a moment that our family will not easily forget. I think locals (including monks!) just feel when you are not in a hurry; when you want to take time to find the soul of a place. Next time, take it slow too…
I have written a lot about Myanmar lately: Mandalay (U-Bein bridge!), Monywa, Bagan and Inle Lake. It indeed took me some time to share all our stories and pictures. There is one story left: about the most famous building in the country, the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon. Up next time.
Hotel Pine Breeze
In Kalaw we stayed at a great hotel:Pine Breeze hotel. It’s situated on top of a small hill, so the views are excellent. Rooms are clean. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one!
Have you not yet read part 1 of this post? Just click here…