Yet another of our friend Tona’s recommendation was a small town 5 hours east of Yangon called Hpa-an (another silent h…)
One of her highlights there was a big steep hike up to a monastery where she stayed overnight with monks. This sounded like a wonderful experience to us so we made the effort and arose ridiculously early for our bus there (Yangon’s bus station is 1.5 hours outside the city – good job guys).
We arrived to a very cute little town right on a beautiful, yet slightly brown, river, had a taxi driver take us to a guesthouse of his recommendation and set about exploring the town.
I don’t know if it was the early rise or just the fatigue from being on the road for the last 8 months, but I started to feel very overwhelmed and had a little bit of a meltdown, which meant we took the next few days very quietly, and sadly to say didn’t make the hike up the mountain. Probably a wise choice though as the temperature were reaching 38• C.
So there isn’t really much to report from here – we spent a day in a great cafe for approximately 6 hours sorting out various things and playing games, eating food at the local market which was along a beautiful lake, and spent a day on scooters exploring the surrounding countryside.
We actually stumbled upon the mountain we should have hiked, and can testify that it looks very, very steep indeed. Our drive also randomly took us to a collection of pagodas that ended in a bunch of restaurants circled around a pool. Not a chlorined sterile pool, just a natural fresh pool which was proving to be very popular with the locals! This was next to a cave which had a small natural pool in it as well, which we couldn’t resist, so didn’t let our lack of swimming attire hold us back and jumped in as we were. All the locals swim fully dressed anyway, we believe out of modesty, so we fit right in. Here Katie’s various toys she lugs around also came in handy and we played catch with some local boys for ages.
Though not what we had hoped for Hpa-an, we did have a lovely few days there, though slightly disappointed about the trek. There’s a side to travelling nobody really tells you about, which I felt in force over those few days – a feeling of stress and overwhelming tiredness that sometimes only home comforts can help ease.
We heard a few days after this stop from another traveler who did the hike up though, that the monks no longer like having tourists stay up at the monastery. We’re not entirely sure why this has changed in the past 4 months, but sadly the word on the street is that a tourist recently committed suicide up there. Very tragic.
Our next stop was to be our final stop in Myanmar – the beaches down south!
Bye for now x