MIXING IT UP COUNTRY
Trip Start Jan 15, 2012
21Trip End Feb 15, 2012
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Where I stayed
Our travel agent in Yangon had highly recommended this part of our trip. (We had inquired about going to some of the other "tribal" areas but as this was winter and many were at higher elevations we chickened out because of the cold weather.)
The trip up river was interesting… beautiful scenery… areas on the river where dozens of small canoes were tied together with their “drivers?” standing next to them in waist high water scooping up rocks from the river bottom and dumping them into their boats. Apparently this is how they collect rocks for their road building projects.
After a cool morning it started to get kind of warm on the boat. We were shaded by the canopy, but the sun bouncing off the water quickly heated everything up.
Five hours later the boat tied up at our hotel's jetty and we were met by a beautiful young lady offering us cool towels for our face and hands and glasses of cool tamarind tea. We were led to the beautiful open-air reception area to check in and then led to our beautiful villa where the mosquito netted bed was strewn with rose petals as was the water filled bathtub. Apparently this hotel, The Mrauk U Princess, is one of the leading ecologically friendly hotels in SE Asia.
After lunch, our driver picked us up in an open Jeep and we bounced through this intriguing village and on to some new pagodas. But these were different. They looked like fortresses.
At one magnificent pagoda, I left TLD at the bottom and ascended to the terrace. There was an open door that I entered. I was immediately confronted by a long hallway lined with Buddha statues. I continued down the corridor, which seemed to go around inside the pagoda. Every now and then I would see another inner corridor through an archway window. I passed a group of Italians walking in the other direction. It seemed that I should have reached the point that I started at, but nothing… just more corridor lined with statues. I kept going forward. Then I realized that the circumference of the circular corridor was getting a bit tighter. There were still statues to be seen through the arches. And then it dawned on me… I was not in a circular corridor but a spiraled corridor. And suddenly, I came to the end. As the panic that had begun to rise in my throat receded, I turned around and headed in the opposite direction. Sure enough after what seemed like an eternally long walk I came to the entrance. Whew.
OK! We can see a few more pagodas…
We went back to the town and wandered the streets and the local vegetable market enjoying the smiles of the people and the “Hello!” waves of the children. They didn’t know the difference between Hello and Goodbye (I hope) so they would use them interchangeably. All we had to do was say “Ming guh la bah” and the people would smile and return the greeting.
The mix of people was more diverse here… Budhist, Muslim, Hindu… There were Indians, Bengali’s, There were tribal groups of Rakhine, Mro, Thet, Maramagyi, Daingnet, Kaman, Linke, Anoo, Shandoo and Khaungso in addition to Myanmars and Chins. And, for the first time we had people disparaging “dark people”. That was not something we wanted to discuss as there seemed to be a lot of tension about the subject.
On the main road thru town was a wooden bridge over the Kaladan River. There were wooden planks laid lengthwise to add extra support for cars traveling over the bridge. Only one car could go at a time.