Myanmar

MT ZWEKABIN sleeping in a monastery

After spending 3 days around Inle Lake we decided to head further south to Hpa An situated in the Karen state. Our plan was to trek up a 723m mountain where a monastery laid at the top where you can stay over night for a small donation and enjoy the magnificent views.

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So from Inle lake we experienced our first decent coach, a VIP night bus, which took us further south around 13 hours. There is no direct bus so we had a stop in Bago, from where we transferred to another bus which was extremely crowded with locals and so hot. After 6 hours we had made it too our next place with such relief.

Checking into our accommodation the Soe brothers two, which was basic but had the best wifi yet. We decided to rent a scooter for 24 hours which cost around 6,000 kyat, 4.50 dollars from Good luck Motorbike rental because they had a reputation and also stored our backpacks for free whilst we visited Mt Zwekabin.

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Local children playing beside the water

From the township we travelled around 20km, although relying on locals with simple directions isnt always wise, as we found ourselves many times in the opposite direction.

Finally reaching our destination we paid a small fee to store the bike in a secure area for the night within the grounds and started the trek around midday. This wasnt the intitial plan as the heat was extreme. The combination of 35 degrees and a wet humidity was brutal. Passing many locals just wearing flip flops and their tradtional dress I was amazed.

The climb up was gradual and parts are in the shade which helped us a little. The only shop providing refreshments is close to the top and definitely good for refilling on liquids. There are two routes to the top. We took the more steeper route but found it wasnt to difficult and managed to reach the top in just over two hours.

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Arriving just after 3 pm it was quite quiet and we were actually quite lucky given one out of two private twin rooms. I was completely open minded what to expect and didnt think we would have the luxury of a western toilet and shower right next to us. As the time passed slowly more tourists came to the top checking in for the night and setting up for the sunset.

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The views were absolutely breathtaking, seeing for many miles across Myanmar. Watching the sunset was beautiful and so clear it was one of the best we had experienced. It was also well timed with the supermoon. This is a very big occasion for the burmese culture, having really big parties which seemed they went on for around 24 hours.

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They have a small vegetarian restaurant at the top where they served a very tasty but simple dish for dinner, for 2000 kyat per person.

Admiring the pastel colours of the sky whilst the monks prayed. It’s definitely rated as one increible moment in my life.

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We woke early the following day around 4am to see the sunrise. The beautiful colours of the sky whilst above the clouds were stunning. We also got very close to monkeys, which live on the mountain. They are fed by the monks leftovers. It was very entertaining seeing them eating the rice and other scraps.

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The trek down was much quicker and very peaceful. We started the descent just after 6 am and were at the bottom within 45 minutes. Our scooter needed to be back around 830 am, giving us some  to get down and travel back.

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Cruising along the roads early in the morning was very quiet. I think all the people were having a lay in cause of the longest party night.
After returning our scooter and collecting our backpacks we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at a local bakery and waited for our bus to leave.

Our short time in Hpa An was definately one of my favourite moments in Myanmar, although it was an intense climb with the heat. It is one place I would recommend if ever visiting this country as its definately far off the main tourist loop of Mandalay, Inle lake and Bagan.

One Life changing experience.

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